Friday, September 28, 2007- - -
Everyone needs a good .22!
Here's one of my favorites, a S&W Model 63 Kit Gun. I picked this one up years ago and my dad promptly confiscated it to shoot rodents in his orchard. Now that he's sold the place in AZ and moved into a retirement village in Kalispell I've gotten it back.
To give you some idea of the diminutive size of this little "J-frame", my dad made the holster from waxed rawhide to hold a cap gun for me when I was maybe three or four. It fits the Kit Gun perfectly, showing what a tiny thing it is, almost too small to have the weight and steadiness for best accuracy. Of course, that also makes it too handy to leave at home.
The grips occasion this post though. When I bought the gun second hand it wore Pachmayr's black rubber grips, butt ugly but supremely functional. Now I've finally gotten around to replacing them with some I made from a bit of desert ironwood I picked up down in AZ several years ago.
And now I understand why the desert ironwood is an endangered species. Not only is the wood incredibly beautiful, it carves and finishes like a dream. It has an extremely tight, gnarly grain -- there's probably 50 growth rings visible in these tiny grips -- and might as well not have any grain at all so far as carving it is concerned. It reminds me more of carving soapstone or Catlinite than wood. It's so blessed hard it almost strikes sparks when you cut it with a bandsaw. It doesn't splinter, but it does take some care not to chip it.
And yes, I did leave my trademark, the chipped out bit by the escutcheon hole. I think I've done this to every darn pair of pistol grips I've ever made. Even using a brand new brad-point in the drill press I did it again. I can drill 100 holes and never chip one out, until I have a piece of exotic wood and I'm making something that will be on display for years.
Unfortunately, it's very difficult to find very large pieces of ironwood. The few bits I picked up were waste from an old cabinet shop that, judging from the patina on the cut edges, had been lying around for many, many years. Then it's laid around here for more years waiting for me to get up the courage to cut into it -- did I mention that it's hard to get? For the most part it's illegal to cut the trees now and when you can find it it sells by the cubic inch. Ivory is probably cheaper. Sure is pretty. Makes me wonder why no one (so far as I know) has started growing it commercially. 'Course, it's the sort of thing that you'd plant so your great grandchildren can harvest. I suppose that's a bit much to ask.
Shouldn't the Russians be a little nervous too?
Another interesting bit linked by the InstaPundit: It seems that the Syrians and Iranians are scared spitless by Israel's recent air strikes deep into Syria:
Why would the Syrian government be so tight-lipped about an act of war perpetrated on their soil? The first half of the answer lies in this story that appeared in the Israeli media last month (8/13): Syria's Antiaircraft System Most Advanced In World. Syria has gone on a profligate buying spree, spending vast sums on Russian systems, 'considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology.' Syria now 'possesses the most crowded antiaircraft system in the world,' with 'more than 200 antiaircraft batteries of different types,' some of which are so new that they have been installed in Syria 'before being introduced into Russian operation service.' While you're digesting that, take a look at the map of Syria: Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th. Nothing.The article goes on to predict that we will strike Iran's nuclear facilities sometime in the next 60-90 days. Ever heard a bobcat hunt at night? They give a blood-curdling scream and then watch to see if anything moves. Could be we're seeing something of the same strategy here: Freak 'em out and then watch for unusual activity. If they start evacuating facilities we'll know what they consider worth striking and we may well be able to trace where the stuff goes too. At the least it will cause all manner of disruptions to their nuclear programs.
El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded. Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected - at enormous expense - only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked. Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out - for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria.
But another interesting aspect: Certainly nobody sells their very best stuff to the Middle East, but.. I'd bet we've just seen a very good test of Russian anti-aircraft capabilities and they suck. That probably means that China and North Korea and all aren't any better (and probably considerably worse). That means a lot of tin pot dictators ought to be shivering in bed with the covers pulled over their heads. That's not entirely a bad thing.
A serious freedom fetish
The InstaPundit pointed this out awhile back, an interesting piece by Eric Scheie on what it means to be a libertarian. Like Scheie, I've been having second thoughts abut calling myself a libertarian, not because I've changed my mind about the essential value of liberty, but because I'd rather not be associated with some of the more wild-eyed anarchists, not to mention the religious libertarians and the socialist libertarians.
Too many eschew government at all levels and in all forms, forgetting that humans are social animals who will develop a social system of some sort to fill every vacuum. Some form of government comes as natural to humans as a pecking order does to chickens and denying this can lead to some serious logical contortions: Zoning by a city government is bad, but the covenants of a homeowner's association are A-okay, presumably because zoning is a product of government while a homowner's covenant is a product of the free association of individuals. The outcome is the same -- either one can tell you you can't change your oil in the drive -- the escape clause is the same -- you can always move -- but somehow your neighbors voting at a homeowner's association meeting is different than your neighbors voting at a city election. When someone is leaving me notes telling me I can't do this or that, I really don't care whether the threatened fine comes from the city council or the homeowner's association, so I don't see much utility in such hair-splitting.
Then there are the folks like one of the commenters at Scheie's, who says libertarianism perversely "... denies people the freedom to shape their own communities." Ah yes, the freedom to bend others to our will. Freedom for me but not for thee. The religious libertarians to whom freedom of speech includes the freedom to proselytize to our children in the public schools. And the socialist libertarians like our commenter, who want the freedom to dictate how others shall enjoy their freedom -- the freedom to be free from others who don't behave as we think they should.
And then there are the deep thinkers of big-L Libertarianism who wish to dictate what one must think on every topic to be an ideologically pure libertarian. Go to Reason.com and search their site for "no true libertarian", "no real libertarian", "no right-thinking libertarian" and such similar terms and you'll see what I mean. Hot house libertarianism, carefully groomed and pruned.
All this gets a bit tiresome, as does the assumption that libertarian = libertine, so, like Jeff Goldstein, I've been leaning toward "classic liberal" or "Jeffersonian" or "strict constitutionalist" as less-fraught labels for myself (I'd thought of myself as a Jeffersonian before I'd ever heard of libertarians). Whatever. Scheie has a very interesting point, read the whole thing!
Thursday, September 27, 2007- - -
The Casper Star's sidebar poll, put up yesterday, is a good candidate for dumbest poll of all time. They ask:
Other than Fred Thompson, which of these Republican candidates (all of whom will be in Wyoming Saturday) has the best chance to be a Presidential front-runner?Here are their three choices and the votes for each 24 hours later:
Sam Brownback -- 12 Votes (27%)While they usually get at least a hundred or so responses this one isn't getting much action. Probably because None of the above wasn't an option, there's no way for anyone who's been paying attention to answer the poll honestly.
Duncan Hunter -- 8 Votes (18%)
Tom Tancredo -- 25 Votes (56%)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007- - -
Tell us more..
Scott Beauchamp's wife no longer works at TNR? That was last month's news thread. I want to know about the toe licking.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007- - -
Free speech for me but not for thee!
"Put down that coffee cup and back away slowly." Oh, the irony. Why am I not surprised?
More odd news..
Wyoming's Sage Grouse Implementation Team has recommended that the state "needs to impose restrictions on residential development and reduce the effects of energy production to help the state's sage grouse population... The team recommends that the state increase the acreage exemption for subdividing land from the current 40 acres to 640 acres."
The energy industry is a perennially popular whipping boy so I understand that bit. 40-acre ranchettes though? They're certainly a blight on the landscape, but most of them are limited to suburban areas -- where they are noticed by our small but vocal urban population -- however, their overall extent is very limited and always will be, as federal surface isn't subject to subdivision. Given that most sage grouse habitat is on federal surface I can't see that residential development of any kind is much of a threat. But if you never get farther out of town than the bypass I can see where you might get the idea that it's a problem.
If you do get out you'll see that there's miles and miles of countryside without oil wells or ranchettes, and there's no sage grouse there either. Is it West Nile virus? Predation from the burgeoning raptor population (which appears to have crashed recently) or some other population of predators (ravens are everywhere and they are very active nest raiders)? Some combination of disease and predation? Who knows? But I suspect that hatin' on oil wells and ranchettes tells us more about the Sage Grouse Implementation Team than it tells us about sage grouse.
Things that make you say.. Huh??
The Teton Range will replace Devil's Tower on the new Wyoming license plates:
The Teton Range plates got a favorable review from one Cheyenne resident.Hmm.. the Tetons and Devil's Tower are both very recognizable topographic features in Wyoming. There's no logical reason to think one represents the state more than the other. Unless you're a granola-munching Californian who owns a second home in Jackson Hole, in the shadow of the Tetons, and have never seen Devil's Tower. That would explain the aversion to the bucking horse too.
"It represents Wyoming more than Devils Tower does," said Heather Chase.
Chase said she still wasn't crazy about the bucking horse, however.
Just a guess, but I'm continually amazed that with 500,000 Wyomingites to interview the Casper Star consistently finds a nincompoop to quote. Or finds someone and makes them sound like a noncompoop. Hard to say which when yer dealing with the Pravda on the Platte.
Monday, September 24, 2007- - -
Let there be light..
The InstaPundit discusses flashlights. I agree that it's hard to go wrong with the MagLites. I've got a 2-cell in each vehicle and keep several more around the house and RV, including a whopping big 6-cell my wife keeps by the bed. Using Duracells and not using the flashlights much, batteries last a long time in these babies, unlike some cheaper flashlights that seem to go dry every time you need them. The InstantOne is also right about their utility as a club. Massad Ayoob's books for cops stress that you shouldn't use one of these to sub for a billy because they're too deadly. That seems about right to me. Loaded with D-cells the big multi-cell jobbies deliver an impressive dead blow. You could hurt somebody..
There are times though when a big D-cell MagLite is just a bit much, or not nearly enough. For a little light that fits in the butt pack I like the Streamlight Stylus. With a single LED they don't give a lot of light, but it's enough to find your way across the strange motel room in the dark and batteries last a long time. The only downside is the four-A batteries, which can be hard to find. Walgreen's has 'em though and there's a Walgreen's on just about every street corner, isn't there?
Then there are the times when you need all the light you can get. There, I like the Surefire G2 Nitrolon. 65 lumens is a lot of light, right up there with a car headlight and the Nitrolon is small and lightweight. The lithium batteries aren't cheap at $25 a dozen, but I reserve this one for emergencies and the batteries seem to last forever if you don't use the light much. I actually like my Surefire 6P better -- same 65 lumens and same lithium batteries, but it has a more positive on-off switch and it's made of aluminum rather than plastic -- but they do get spendy. I picked up my 6P before they offered the Nitrolon and probably wouldn't buy one today as there's not enough advantage to offset the added cost.
I keep the Surefires with my handguns, a real comfort should something go bump in the night. With a little practice they're easy to handle along with the gun and they're bright enough to momentarily stun someone and take away their night vision for a good while. To work this way though you shouldn't turn the thing on until you've got somebody to illuminate. That's probably the best way to use a light in such situations anyway, as you don't give away your position by flashing a light around.
Another handy feature of the Surefire series are their filters. The red is nice if you don't want to destroy your night vision -- I keep a red flip-up filter on each light at all times -- and I also carry a blue filter when I'm hunting, just in case I need to follow a blood trail after dark. I can't vouch for the effectiveness of the blue light as I haven't actually had to do it, but it's a great idea in theory and good luck following a blood trail in the dark with a regular flashlight, it's hard enough in daylight. Cabela's doesn't seem to carry the flip-up filters for the Nitrolon/6P and I'm not sure these for the Executive series will fit, but plenty of places carry the full line of Surefire lights and they do have filters for the Nitrolon/6P.
And then there's the times when you need light. Light for a long time. Light to read by. For those times nothing beats a good ol' Coleman. I've got a pair of their white gas double mantle lights, but they're getting hard to find and these dual fuel jobbies are probably a better bet anyway, as they also work with unleaded gas. Nothing can beat one of these in an extended power failure and they'll even heat a small room. Add a dual fuel stove (and plenty of water, food, & fuel of course) and you'll be set to survive the next big catastrophe in style.
Dangerously close to the truth..
From my aunt Arlene:
Once upon a time the government had a vast scrapyard in the middle of a desert.
Congress said, 'Someone may steal from it at night.' So they created a night watchman position and hired a person at $18,000 a year for the job.
Then Congress said, 'How does the watchman do his job without instruction?' So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions for $22,000, and one person to do time studies for an additional $22,000 per year.
Then Congress said, 'How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly? So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One to do the studies for $31,000 and one to write the reports for an additional $31,000 per year.
Then Congress said, 'How are these people going to get paid?' So they created the following positions, a time keeper for $35,000 annual salary, and a payroll officer for an additional $35,000, then hired two people.
Then Congress said, 'Who will be accountable for all of these people?' So they created an administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer at $155,000 per year, Assistant Administrative Officer $125,000, and a Legal Secretary for an additional $100,000 per year.
Then Congress said, 'We have had this operating for one year with a budget cost of $574,000.00 and we are $18,000 over budget. We must cutback overall cost.'
So they laid off the night watchman.
Can your Governor take an antelope with a single shot?
Our Governor, Dave Freudenthal, as captain of the Wyoming team, is reportedly four for five in the Wyoming One Shot Antelope Hunt. Got to love his attitude too: "I don't think there's anything we have to apologize for," the governor said. "Hunting's great."
You can tell they're not farm kids..
When they write a headline like this: Threatened Duck Gives Birth. Silly ghits, ducks don't give birth, they lay eggs, as the article makes clear.
Sunday, September 23, 2007- - -
The InstaPundit has more on the cop who threatened to 'find a reason' to put someone in jail:
For not knowing the law and acting like an ass, the punishment is about right. For threatening to "find a reason" to put someone in jail, he should probably be fired.The article notes that the officer has "... worked for the Knoxville Police Department for about seven years." That's the bit that I find most annoying. Do you suppose that the guy just had a brain cramp that day or, for the first time in his life, took a dislike to someone and decided to abuse his authority? Or had the guy been an over-aged schoolyard bully for his entire seven year career and this is the first time he's embarrassed enough people to get his peepee whacked?
Friday, September 21, 2007- - -
Things that make you say Hmmm..
The InstaPundit links an article on space law at Slate:
Google recently announced its sponsorship of the Lunar X Prize, which awards $20 million to the first private firm to land a robotic rover on the moon by the end of 2012. Will these companies need special permission to put something on the moon?Sounds like they'll need an archaeologist qualified to do NEPA compliance inspections to examine any proposed moon landing sites. I'd better put together a bid..
... The FAA regulates the commercial sector's space activities by requiring parties to obtain launch and re-entry licenses. The office spends up to six months vetting launch plans for potential harm to the public that could occur if something went awry—like falling debris or the formation of a toxic cloud from an explosion. During the review of an application, the FAA also investigates a plan's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, with deciding factors being whether the pollution from the launch could harm a historic site or the natural environment, or if noise from the launch could be detrimental to surrounding plant and animal life. ...
Thursday, September 20, 2007- - -
Bat Boy seen at Rockies Game!
Well, that's what his jersey said, although it seems he's had an ear job.
But speaking of Bat Boy, it seems that Fox News is trying to pick up where the Weekly World News left off.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007- - -
What a surprise!
"The Federal Government of the United States can not run a bordello and make money."Ah yes, the IRS: Taking the money out of screwing people.
Monday, September 17, 2007- - -
Good God! What will they think of next?
I shouldn't have to point out that real men don't do anal bleaching. But perhaps I should anyway..
Friday, September 14, 2007- - -
Yet another shitty day in paradise
Weather reports said Wednesday would be nice so we took a day trip up to Yellowstone. This time we hiked up to Monument Geyser Basin, one of those places I've been meaning to go for probably 40 years. You can see plumes of steam rising on the mountainside half a mile or so from the highway along the Gibbon River, but it's also about a mile up a very steep trail and we'd just never found the time to hike it.
It's not a very large area, nor are the thermal features particularly large, but we thought this one was cute. Just to the left of center frame you'll see what must be one of the 'monuments', with several more along the right edge of the photo. The one on the left is probably 1.5 foot in diameter at the bottom, 1 foot across at the top, and about 6 feet tall. Look closely and you can see a little plume of steam rising from the top. Apparently, it's been bubbling steam and spitting solids from one small vent long enough to build itself this pipe, with the vent rising in the center. Pretty darn cool.
This photo is a bit grainy because it's an enlarged and cropped bit of a much larger original. There are places around these thermal areas where pools have sealed themselves by forming a thin crust over a vat of boiling water and it's not safe to walk out on the barren areas, so I took the photo from afar. Never much wanted to share a lobster's last moments.
Our timing was impeccable, as we had one beautiful 80 degree day all week. Thursday out running errands it felt like it was going to snow any minute and I guess it did snow up around Meeteetse. Since I've been lashed to the desk doing paperwork and filling out government forms it hasn't much mattered, but I am heartily glad that we're flexible enough to take off when we do get a nice day. I guess I should also be grateful that we have somewhere to go, hm?
Ps. This is one of the areas that burned during the massive fires in 1988 (1989?) and you can see that the lodgepoles are coming back nicely. The old burned sticks are falling whenever there's a good wind and it won't be long before they will be mostly down. These burned areas looked absolutely ghastly right after the fires, but it cleared out a lot of dead timber and started a new cycle of growth.
Thursday, September 13, 2007- - -
Quick! Change the subject!
Daniel Henninger has an interesting take on the Petraeus hearings:
These remarks were delivered without passion. It was expected that the Petraeus-Crocker hearings would be two days of high drama. They were not. Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker were questioned about Iraq by Democrats on three full committees, including five candidates for the presidency, and the hearings were flat. Could it be the air is going out of Iraq as a hot political issue?But is the air going out of Iraq as a hot political issue? To hear the Gallup Pollers tell it, it remains the #1 issue for most Americans:
If true, it is good news. Good news, first of all, for this country, whose people may have grown tired of the war but are more so with the war's corrosive domestic politics.
As a political debate, the Iraq war has been drained. There's not much more to get out of it. The hearings proved that. The one fresh, forward-moving issue that emerged from the hearings, raised by Joe Lieberman, was whether we should crack back at Iran (or Syria), which is costing American lives in Iraq. But for Democrats, this subject is off the table. So what does that leave them for the next 14 months? Are they going to bet the ranch on Iraq being in flames next fall? Most likely, it won't be. If Iraq gradually improves, most Americans will be relieved or rejoice. If Net-rooted Democratic candidates can't bring themselves to do that, they need to change the subject.
1. IraqI might argue that this poll shows 6 in 10 Americans believe what they're being told by the legacy media, but that's an argument for another time. Regardless of what people think about the war in Iraq and the greater war on terror, it is on the top of their list of concerns. Henninger is right: Given their performance, at the Petraeus hearings and on this topic in general, it would be better for the Democrats if this were not so. Change the subject? Well, good luck with that.
Iraq is clearly the dominant policy issue on Americans' minds. It has been at the top of the list on Gallup's most important problem list since March 2004. By a wide margin over any other issue, Americans say it should be the president's and Congress' top priority. In general, Americans have been more likely over the past two years to say that U.S. involvement in the war was a mistake than favor it. As of July 2007, more than 6 in 10 Americans say the Iraq war was a mistake, the highest percentage to do so since the war began in March 2003. The majority of Americans believe that the benefits of "success" in Iraq are not worth the costs. Americans perceive the war is going badly. A majority of Americans favor the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Seven in 10 Americans favor withdrawal of all U.S. troops by April 2008, except for a residual counter-terrorism force. A majority of Americans opposed the Bush administration's 2007 "surge" in troops and by July 2007 only about one in five believed that the surge was making things better in Iraq. At the same time, Americans do not favor Congress passing a resolution to deny funding for the war. Americans have a high level of respect for the opinion of Gen. David Petraeus, and in July a majority advocated waiting until his September report before Congress sets a new Iraq policy. Views on the war are sharply divided along party lines, with Republicans generally supportive and Democrats strongly opposed.
Monday, September 10, 2007- - -
Now that complexifies the whole issue!
Durham-in-Wonderland goes on a rant about misuse of the Queen's English that I can relate to*. My least favorite term: "Orientating". According to my Webster's it's a real word, but it's not synonymous with "orienting". To "orientate" means "to face or turn to the east", but it's used synonymously with "orient" in the sense of "to aquaint with the existing situation". As in: "I orientated him to the office".
I just hate such faux erudition.
*Even if I do dangle the occasional participle, at least I know I'm doing it!
Yet another hat tip to the InstaPundit.
The Politico quotes anti-war activist Rabbi Michael Lerner:
“Right now, we could write the story of this Congress as ‘Profiles in Cowardice. There’s a great deal of frustration with the Democrats in the Congress – a sense almost of betrayal."Seems like a lot of conservatives sat out the 2006 election because they felt betrayed by the not-so-conservative Republican Congress. Now we've got a none-too-effective Democratic Congress and the liberals are frustrated.
Gee, what if we held an election and nobody came?
"May you live in interesting times.."
So says the old Chinese curse. According to this report, it seems the Chinese are going out of their way to keep things interesting.
What I find interesting about this report is that this is supposedly "... part of an aggressive push by Beijing to achieve "electronic dominance" over each of its global rivals by 2050 ...". Considering how fast computer technology changes, I'd think if you're going to establish technological dominance you ought to set your goal a little closer. Like by mid-November. This is a very scary report, but I do find that bit odd.
Sunday, September 09, 2007- - -
I've got the blues..
Blue grouse that is. You can see why they're almost impossible to spot back in the thickets against the bark of the fir trees. The little Ruger M77/22 in .22 LR with a 2-7x Leupold compact is the perfect tool for rooting them out.
Now all we've got to decide is which recipe to use on these delicious little morsels. They're simply the best eating there is.
Thursday, September 06, 2007- - -
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic.The Justice Department is in favor of market forces and opposed to regulatory intervention? Well, knock me over with a feather. I haven't followed the whole "net neutrality" thing very closely, so I don't know what to make of this. I do wonder at the Justice Department's grasp of economics though: Just who do they think bears the cost of "costly network expansions and improvements"? Surely they're not under the impression that the internet service providers provide these services out of the goodness of their hearts? Of course the consumers bear the burden, unless the government steps in, in which case the consumers -- now we call them taxpayers but it's still us -- bear the burden, plus a bit for governmental overhead.
The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers," the agency said in its filing.
The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery.
"Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention," the agency said in its filing.
I do get a chuckle out of their use of the US Postal Service as an example though, seeing as how the bulk mailers get a big discount at the post office. If the ISPs were to follow this example they'd give special service to the spammers and charge us all for the privilege of gettin' all those emails from Nigeria. If that's what they're after I'm agin it.
Perhaps we simply need to hang a few lawyers..
In his book Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell complained bitterly of having the hands of his Seal Team tied by fears of second-guessing by lawyers, the press, and an anti-war public. Here, the InstaPundit illustrates that the overlawyering of the war on terror goes all the way up to the Whitehouse.
At 10,000 to 12,000 acres the Bone Creek Fire makes it's state-wide debue in today's Casper Star*. Adding insult to injury it's burned up the guardrails along Highway 14 and closed the highway through Shell Canyon.
*But you've been reading about it here since last Saturday! 1, 2
Update: More news on the burn. It rained a bit here last night and it's cool today, so perhaps they'll get it under control.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007- - -
Check out the dovetailed tops and sides on these guitars by Howard Klepper (the two right-hand photos). That is incredibly trick. Butterfly joints would also be a fun way to join an instrument's top and back. Now I'm inspired.
Work avoidance activities
I was supposed to work on a report Tuesday, but it was a gorgeous day and the weather report indicates we won't be getting very many more gorgeous days before the weather starts turning cool. So we hiked up Dry Medicine Lodge Creek on the west flank of the Big Horn Mountains instead. We only walked from the Medicine Lodge Creek State Park campground up the two-track about three miles to the point where it climbs out of the canyon and we'll have to go back to hike the upper part of the canyon at some point -- there's another natural bridge a mile or so farther up from where we turned back. It was indeed a beautiful day and it's an easy hike through spectacular scenery.
Both on the way up and back we noted that the fire we'd seen up Shell Canyon last Saturday had grown considerably and was really putting out smoke by yesterday afternoon. In today's Worland paper they're calling it the Bone Creek Fire and saying it's covered about 8000 acres so far. The beetle kill in that area has been so bad that there are few living trees left and it may be that the best thing they can do is let it burn. Kill off the beetles and give the forest a chance to get started over. Still, it's always a little unnerving to see great clouds of smoke going up on the mountain.
This sign was posted on the outhouse doors at Medicine Lodge Creek State Park. "Do not let your children hike or play alone." What a concept. And that's for a black bear sighting. They really ought to post signs like this all over Yellowstone, where we have real bears. Incidentally, we didn't see any sign of bear activity so it's my guess that the bear was only passing through.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007- - -
Well, that's certainly standing up for American civil liberties!
Via the InstaPundit, Jules Crittenden discusses press coverage of the Iraq war in the run-up to the Petraeus report. As he says "The story line is clear." There can be no positive talk. Any progress is probably illusory and has come at an unacceptable cost.
It's interesting in light of this report from today's Casper Star:
New documents released Tuesday regarding crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan detail a troubling pattern of troops failing to understand and follow the rules that govern interrogations and deadly actions.Twenty-two incidents! How horrible!! But note that what the ACLU has is "courts-martial summaries, transcripts and military investigative reports". Yes, all these incidents are being investigated and, where appropriate, the perpetrators are being prosecuted.
The documents, released by the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of a lawsuit, total nearly 10,000 pages of courts-martial summaries, transcripts and military investigative reports about 22 incidents. They show repeated examples of soldiers believing they were within the law when they killed local citizens.
What's interesting is how interested the ACLU is in this, when they could be demanding the documents of the investigations and prosecutions of all the botched SWAT raids in this country. And there certainly have been more than 22 of them. And probably a lot fewer investigations and prosecutions along the way. Certainly is nice to know that our military is being held to a higher standard in its dealings with Iraqi civilians than our own police departments here at home are in dealing with us, isn't it?
Monday, September 03, 2007- - -
Take a North Korean promise in one hand and a pile of dogshit in the other, clap your hands together, and you'll have two hands full of dogshit with no promise to be found.
You've been Spammed!!
Did you know it was the 70th anniversary of the original mystery meat? They're issuing three "collector's edition" cans. I predict that, like a frozen mammoth, ten thousand years from now archaeologists will be digging these things up and sharing a taste of them at their banquets, remarking that it's still quite edible.
Sunday, September 02, 2007- - -
Another installment in the "Yes, I'm trying to make you jealous" series
Continuing on our new-found quest to see all the sights in our own backyard, we hiked to Natural Bridge, just west of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone NP, yesterday. Rain night before last had cleared the air of smoke and dust, and it was a spectacular day for scenery.
We did see a big plume of smoke going up on the north side of Shell Canyon on the west Big Horns on our way up to the park (which had grown alarmingly by evening) and a couple small fires on the southeast side of Yellowstone Lake -- it's just that time of year -- but the air was clear and full of piney woods smells.
The hike to Natural Bridge is fairly short -- about 1.3 miles each way -- and it's mostly easy going unless you decide to hike around the back side of the bridge as we did. Climbing up and around the bridge gets a bit steep, but it's only a short way to the top and it is a great view.
The old, long-abandoned highway over the continental divide west to Old Faithful passes just south of Natural Bridge and it's still hikable west from the bridge, or would be if some of the park's less tourist-friendly residents weren't on the prowl. A bit of a contrast from Big Bend NP, where they warned you about the mountain lions and even banned children from a couple of the trails. 'Course, there's a big difference between a mountain lion that might take a small child given half a chance and a 700# grizzly that will eat anything that crosses its path.
What I find interesting is that there were so few signs warning of bears and those were only in some restricted areas. A bear can cover a lot of ground and I'd think they might turn up just about anywhere. Given that potential, the park really should warn the tourists not to troll for bears by doing silly shit like leaving one small, whiny child behind at the base of the Natural Bridge while the rest of the family hikes to the top. That's just asking for trouble. Would you leave an (I'm guessing) eight-year-old girl alone on the street in a city? Well no, because you know there's predators out there. Well, we have those predators too -- although thankfully few of them -- plus we've got, you know, predators. Babes in the woods they are, and I'm talking about the parents.
I should note that I find this sort of situation particularly alarming because one of the tricks of predator hunting is to call them in using the distress calls of the juveniles of their prey species. Said little girl was making "here I am, come eat me" sounds in bear language. Fortunately, Darwin wasn't around to hand them an award so it was just a walk in the park on a beautiful, sunny day.
We were frankly surprised at how few people were in the park, given it was Saturday of Labor Day weekend. There were a lot of people, and visitorship is up this year by all reports, but we never had any trouble finding a place to park and there were no big traffic jams. We'd been avoiding visiting Yellowstone during the summer months for fear it would be absolutely overrun, but it wasn't bad at all. For one thing, the buffalo usually cause the traffic jams as folks stop in the road to gawk, but the park has been putting in lots of pull-outs along the roads in the areas where the buffalo hang out. That seems to have helped a lot. There's not much they can do when the buffalo decide to stand in the road and block traffic, and we did get held up for a few minutes once, but nothing like the jam-ups that used to be common. Even then, a park ranger was there in moments and somehow got the buffs off the road (buffalo can be seen but not herded).
We were just as worried about the mobs of tourists. Yellowstone hasn't expanded its parking lots and walkways much in years, except at Old Faithful and the new visitor's center at Canyon Village. We were rather expecting to find it impossible to park at most of the thermal features, and to find the trails and walkways overrun. But such is not the case. We didn't go over to Old Faithful and I suspect there was a huge mob there (there's always a huge mob there) but elsewhere it was no problem. The park's infrastructure is taking a pounding from the sheer volume of visitors -- 3 million plus every year -- but the volume of visitors isn't detracting from the park experience, it's still a great time and highly recommended. Despite my misgivings, I'd now say it's fine to visit any time.
So come on out!!