Coyote n. A small wolf (Canis latrans) native to western North America.



The Old Coyote's alter ego is:

Anthony A. (Swen) Swenson

Mild-mannered archaeologist by day..

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A Coyote at the Dog Show

Sunday, July 31, 2005- - -  
All boxed up!

Yep, the old box has a new home, courtesy of Elderly Instruments. It was the biggest F-jumbo case they had, said to hold a guitar up to 17" wide. They had another that would hold a 16" F-style guitar, but the old Gretsch is 16.5" wide so I went with the larger case. The padding is very thick and cushy, and I might have been able to cram it in the smaller case, but it would have been a very tight fit. As you can see, it fits very nicely in this case. The case is designed to grip the guitar's neck tightly so it won't slide around, and it's a heavy, solid affair that should survive anything short of an elephant stampede. The old guit' fiddle might just survive another fifty years now!

@5:16 PM


You might be a blue neck if..
I heard the local radio DJs reading this list a couple weeks ago and finally remembered to track it down. It's supposed to be a response from those tired of being called rednecks and it's pretty good. Considering the content though, I suspect that the writer was a bit of a blue neck himself. Some are pretty good:

10. You have no idea what a polecat is.


20. You don't have at least one can of WD-40 somewhere around the house.

But to be honest, I doubt most rednecks would know, or care, what opera glasses are. Also, rednecks have wives too, so we don't get to plan the family vacation around gun & knife shows. The weekend maybe, but there's just too darn many relatives to visit.

Allow me to submit:

33. You've never used a toilet that didn't flush and can't tell me what's kept under the coffee can in an outhouse.

34. You've never eaten squirrel or rabbit (pheasant and venison don't count, fancy restaurants serve those; fancy French restaurants serve rabbit, but let's not go there).

35. You've never owned a pickup.

36. You've never fished with a cane pole.

37. You've never driven on a dirt (not gravel) road that wasn't under construction.

38. You wear 'slacks'.

39. You don't habitually wear a hat.

40. You don't own a .22 and see no need for one.

41. You do own an umbrella.

42. You do own loafers but don't own any boots.

Okay? We could go on and on about the peculiarities of city folk, but at some point it's like making fun of a cripple. They can't help it, and sometimes they're not even aware of their disability.

@7:11 AM

Saturday, July 30, 2005- - -  
A quick ride around Rancho la Bray
Way back when, one of my old anthro professors pointed out that hominid fossils are relatively rare and opined that this was because humans (and prehumans) are too smart to get themselves into situations where they can become fossilized. It would appear that the good folks who run the Democratic National Committee website are working to refute this view of superior human intelligence. They're not extinct yet, but they make a good case for a special Darwin award for political parties. The only reason they haven't shot themselves someplace vital is because they're too busy shooting themselves in the foot.

You've got to love 'em though, posting a photo of their fearless leader that makes him look like he's just been goosed (or is working himself up to a really good scream). And check out that blogroll! A seasoned staff of senior statesmen and political deep thinkers it ain't. A quick read of the blog and comments will dispel any notions you might have had of intelligent life at the DNC (what is it with liberals and bad spelling?).

If these folks with their website are trying to give the impression that they're ready to tackle the serious business of running the country, I'll respectfully submit that they're failing badly.

[I blatantly stole the braying jackass photo from]

Ps. Now that's odd, Blogger's spell checker doesn't have "blog" or "blogroll" in its dictionary.

PPs. And in the other foot!
In the way of an expose' on dastardly Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, the DNC informs us that he's a member of the Federalist Society [Gasp!]. Then they go on to cite the Society's Mission Statement, which reads in part: "We have fostered a greater appreciation for the role of separation of powers; federalism; limited, constitutional government; and the rule of law in protecting individual freedom and traditional values. Overall, the Society's efforts are improving our present and future leaders' understanding of the principles underlying American law."

Well by golly, that tears it. We wouldn't want anyone on the Supreme Court who subscribes to those values, would we?

PPPwhatever. Lileks Screeeeedblog does a much better job than I of explaining the painful lameness of the left wing. Mentions of Rove make me yawn. Mentions of Rove by people with tiny flecks of spittle in the corners of their mouths probably don't have the effect they might wish. I can only hope they'll wake up and see the padding on the wall.

@7:28 PM


Don't miss it!
Unfortunately, we'll be otherwise occupied, but Nowoodstock is definitely a good time!

@1:05 PM

There he is again!

I've been adding to my music collection, searching for inspiration, and it seems that Jerry Douglas appears on virtually every music CD and DVD I've purchased of late (seven out of the last nine to be exact). In fact, he's the only dobro player that appears in my limited traveling collection. It's no wonder, he is an amazing musician and he plays with a lot of different groups.

BTW, check out the 'cones' on the "DougBro" pictured at I guess they were so big they needed the bra for support. (What can I say? It appeals to my juvenile sense of humor.) Someone will have to explain the "panic" button at the bottom of the page though...

He's currently touring with Allison Krause and Union Station. Unfortunately, we'll miss him when they play Casper, Wyo. on August 16th. We're pretty busy and two concerts in one week would be a bit much, so we're going to Steamboat Springs to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the 13th. My wife and I went to the Telluride bluegrass festival to see Nitty Gritty on our very first 'date'. In fact, that's how I got my foot in the door with the cute little redhead from the BLM. She stopped by Western Wyoming College one afternoon and lamented that Nitty Gritty was going to be in Telluride and she was going to miss them because it was too far to drive. 'It's not that far said I, let's go!' And the rest is history.

Ps. Speaking of dobros, check out the John and Rudy Dopyera collection. They put resonators on practically everything.

@7:35 AM

That's not a ham!

It's my hand. Earlier, I'd snapped a couple of photos of the headstock logo on the little Martin Backpacker. Unfortunately, the "est. 1833" part hadn't been too clear after reducing the file size and uploading to blogger, so I thought I'd give it another try in bright sunlight. The photo to the right was the unintentional result (sometimes the auto focus and I don't quite see eye to eye), and it illustrates part of why I'll never be much of a mandolin player: My hands and fingers are just too big. The other half of the problem is that, while my palm can nearly span an octave on the fingerboard, my crippled little finger points back toward my palm and isn't much good at reaching for those high notes.

And of course, this is all in the way of making excuses. The real problem is that I don't make the time for the hours and hours of dilligent practice required to become a good musician. I have fun with it, but don't hold your breath until you see me on the Grand Ol' Opery. That is one funky-lookin' instrument though, isn't it?

@6:32 AM

Thursday, July 28, 2005- - -  
Drink up Shriners!
It looks like another good year for our barley growers, so don't overdo the moderation thing!

@5:21 PM

"Gladly, the cross-eyed bear"

Remember the old joke about the little girl who learned a song about a bear in Sunday School? Well, it would appear that children aren't the only ones who make up nonsense words when they don't understand the lyrics to songs. When I was a wee tad my dad taught me to play "Wildwood Flower" on the guitar and mandolin, but it was an instrumental version and I don't recall that he ever taught me any lyrics. So I thought I'd get on the internet and find music and lyrics for the tune. What I found is positively fascinating.

Here's the most common version of the first verse, cited 'as performed by the Carter Family', with authorship attributed to A.P. Carter:

Oh, I'll twine with my mingles and waving black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the myrtle so bright with the emerald hue
The pale and the leader and eyes look like blue

So what the heck are "mingles" and what does that last line mean? It doesn't make much sense to me. But amid a bazillion different versions of the song on the internet, here's another version that attributes the song's authorship to Maude Irving and J.D. Webster in 1860. The words make a lot more sense:

Oh, I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of raven black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the myrtle so bright with the emerald hue
And pale arrownetta with eyes of bright blue

Ah! She's singing about all the flowers she'll weave in her hair! Makes sense now. A footnote says that they're not sure about the 'arrownetta' but that it must be some sort of flower. The note also sheds some light on the problems with the lyrics: It seems that the original 1928 Carter Family recording of the song wasn't very clear and folks ever after have been trying to transcribe the lyrics from that recording. It's interesting that the 'mingles' version is the one performed by Rosanne Cash on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Farther Along DVD. It would seem that even the Carter family's descendants have forgotten the lyrics.

What's so fascinating about this? Well, this is how languages change through time too. Look what's happened to English in a mere thousand years!

Ps. I thought I'd follow up by googling 'arrownetta' to see if there is any such flower. In the process I found this discussion of Wildwood Flower that substitutes 'amaryllis' for 'arrownetta', which makes more sense. I do think I'll skip the 185 stanza version of "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry" though (here's the Child version, virtually unintelligible after 3-4 hundred years, but you can still get the gist of it). And how's that for going full circle? From a song about a bear to a song about a sea lion.

@5:10 AM

Wednesday, July 27, 2005- - -  
Once upon a time...

Tin cans were made by hand. Remember grandma warning you never to leave food in the can after it was opened? There was a good reason for that. Cans were cut out of sheet metal and soldered together with lead-based solder. This one is a "hole and cap" can, made with a filler cap in the top. The bottom of the can was one piece, the sides were a strip of metal with a soldered seam up the side, and the top was in two pieces, an outer ring with a large hole in it, and a cap that fitted the hole with a small vent hole in its center. In practice, the sides were rolled and soldered into a cylinder, the bottom was soldered on, and the outer ring of the top was soldered on. Then the food was put into the can through the hole in the top and the cap was soldered on. At this point the can was put into a water bath and brought to canning temperature and a final drop of solder was applied to the vent hole to seal the whole business. The size of the cap gives some idea of the contents of the can. For instance, tomatoes obviously required a much larger filler hole than condensed milk.

Putting up food in cans began in the early 1800's and went through a series of innovations and improvements. Initially, cans were made, filled, and sealed entirely by hand, with the process becoming steadily more automated through time. As the process became more automated the cans produced became more uniform in size, and soldering became neater and more spare. Thus, in general, the sloppier the soldering job the older the can. Finally, around 1900 the Sanitary can manufacturing process was invented, wherein the top and bottom of the can were crimped on and sealed with a sealant rather than solder.

The Sanitary can-making process was far superior, or at least far cheaper (and undoubtedly far safer for the consumer), than the older soldered can-making process, but the process didn't become universal until the patents ran out around 1920. In fact, the soldered vent hole remained in use for the canning of condensed milk until the 1960's. Once the Sanitary Can Company's patents ran out the process was adopted very quickly, and it's pretty safe to say that any can with a soldered-in cap like the one pictured here dates pre-1920.

Most all modern cans are made by the Sanitary process, and we're all familiar with opening them. Note though that the top and bottom of the older soldered seam cans had a simple lap joint, lacking the prominent rim and indented top of modern crimped seam cans. There was nothing for one of our modern can openers to latch onto. A variety of novel methods were used to open these early cans, including this one, which employed a center punch to align the opener and a cutter that was twisted around the top (or usually the bottom) to access the contents. Cans were often opened with a knife as well, usually by punching the knife into the bottom and making an X-cut from side to side, then prying back the four triangular segments of the lid. I even found one at a protohistoric Native American camp that had been opened by laying it on its side and chopping the top off, presumably with an axe or large knife.

Regardless of how cans were opened, we can bet that our pets learned to identify that noise and come running...

@6:56 AM

That trail looks a little cold...
A cool story about trace fossils in Colorado.

@6:12 AM

Tuesday, July 26, 2005- - -  
It's not working
My bid to make my wife crazy by practicing the mandolin doesn't seem to be working, I've even caught her tapping her foot a few times while I played. So, in a last ditch effort, I've broken out the old guitar. Volume! I need more of it! And the old Gretsch will produce. A 1953 vintage New Yorker, complete with arch top and f-holes, it was designed to hold its own in an orchestra and it is loud, with a rich, mellow tone that I really like. After twanging on the Gretsch the Martin Backpacker mandolin really sounds like a little tin box. It's a totally unfair comparison of course, just about any mandolin would sound little and tinny next to the big old boomer.

According to this web site, the older Gretsches tend not to hold up well, although mine is in fine shape for the shape it's in. Especially considering that I rescued it from a music shop/pawn shop in humid Kentucky and transplanted it to dry Wyoming. It's a big box, 16-1/2 inches wide, and the only case the shop could come up with that was big enough is the cheap pasteboard affair it's still riding around in. Not good for traveling in an RV where it's likely to get kicked down the stairs some night. After searching the internet (how I love the internet, they have things you can't buy in Craig, Colorado, believe it or not!) I've found a hard case that should fit and got one on order. That will ease my mind considerably, and if I start dragging it around I might even play it once in awhile.

This is part of our on-going policy change, to enjoy the things we have rather than keeping them all wrapped up somewhere they won't get broken. Now we even eat off the antique Fiestaware! Some of it anyway, my wife has boxes and boxes of the stuff she collected back before it was popular and there's a limit to how many butter dishes we can use. If the plates, or the guitar, get broken, well, we enjoyed them.

@6:54 AM

Monday, July 25, 2005- - -  
Fastest Gun in the West
Most think that the era of outlaws and gunslingers ended around 1900, safely before our modern, more civilized time. But here's a story about the new, improved (wilder and woolier) west, featuring a shooting in Rock Springs by Ed Cantrell, who some claim to have been the fastest gun ever. Legendary Border Patrol Officer Bill Jordan testified that Cantrell was faster than he, which is good enough for me. Remember though, 'fast with a gun' has two connotations, 'fast on the draw' being the more common. Often, when old timers talked about being fast with a gun they meant 'fast to use a gun', an entirely different sort of critter. It would appear that Cantrell met both meanings of the term.

For the story, scroll down to about mid-page, just below the photo of the Brunswick Hotel ca. 1893.

@6:26 AM

Not enough left to cook soup on

Here's an interesting link to the early history of paleontology in the west. Not nearly so dry nor so scholarly as you might guess.

The leg and foot of a Diplodocus, excavated at Como Bluff, Wyoming in 1898.

@6:03 AM

Sunday, July 24, 2005- - -  
Doin' the Crotalus cuddle

I came on this cute couple today while they were getting a little love buzz going. Yes, it was the wild thang! Making the beast with ... oh, four or five backs depending on where you start counting. Yes, we're talking about buck naked, wild, animal sex!

"What? Oh! My GOD, he's got a camera! He'll probably put the pictures on the internet! Oh, Buzz, what will we do?"

It looks like Buzz is content to slither off. She should have known he was a snake when she met him.

Ps. If these photos are a little fuzzy it's because they were shot at maximum telephoto distance. I may be nuts, but I'm not a complete fool.

@8:04 PM

The Devolution of Man

I wish I could remember where I got this image, it's a delightful comment on our times. We should have quit when we were hunters, all that scratching in the ground was the beginning of our downfall.

So why did we do it? Why did we give up a life of leasure as hunters? For beer, of course. We gathered wild plants for many generations as mobile foragers, but we had to sit in one place for weeks at a time, and collect a significant surplus of grains and fruits, in order to brew beer and wine. Next thing we knew we were living in cities and stuck in a traffic jam somewhere.

Which brings me to good news! Yes, we dashed home a couple of days ago to pick up the mail and pay the bills, and I'm happy to report that the barley is almost ripe in the Bighorn Basin. In a few short days our farmers will be harvesting another year's supply of headaches. Do what you can to help out our economy, okay?

@6:11 AM

My kind of blind

The neighbors got a little wild when we were last staying in Rawlins, Wyo. The RV World RV park is on the edge of town and was getting pretty run down (it's since been fixed up nicely!). The water tap next to our unit leaked, forming a handy waterhole, and the black-tinted windows on the tin tipi hid us.

After a little drink it's time to rest in the shade. We've never observed antelope at such close quarters for hours at a time. They are very interesting little critters, with the emphasis on little. They are tiny. Oddly, they look a lot bigger when they're standing out in the sagebrush.

They got so used to us coming and going that when we'd pull up at the 5th wheel they'd just go around the back and peek around the corner at us until we were inside. Then they'd come back into the shade under our 'picture' windows.

@5:52 AM

Saturday, July 23, 2005- - -  
These guys look familiar...
I'm not usually much for picture books, but I saw this one at the local library and had to check it out after thumbing through it for a minute. From Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero: a Discworld Fable, Paul Kidby's illustrations are delightful, and I wonder if he had some of my relatives for models:

I'm not saying which of my relatives this one reminded me of...

@3:28 PM

We Ain't Afeard No How!

A great old Charles Belden photo thanks to Dr. Weevil, posting at the Volokh Conspiracy, who reminded me of it.

@2:48 PM

Thursday, July 21, 2005- - -  
"brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure"

Posed behind Old Green, this is the shinier, newer truck I was talking about. All we need are a couple of bureaucrats strapped to that grill guard and this brute would look right at home in one of the Mad Max movies.

(Somehow, photographs with snow in the background are appealing right now.)

@6:10 AM

Hot on the Trail
This is the old Rock Springs to Brown's Park Road, which has a pretty good claim to being part of the Outlaw Trail, although the trail is more a concept than a physical place. It's a sure bet that young Robert Leroy Parker, later to become known as George "Butch" Cassidy, rode this trail on many occasions, as he had a girlfriend -- Josie Bassett, who lived on the Bassett ranch in Brown's Park. This photo was taken just north of Canyon Creek, a couple of miles north of the Colorado-Wyoming border.

Later, Butch Cassidy called a meeting of outlaws in Brown's Park, which led to the formation of the infamous Train Robber's Syndicate. The glory days of the outlaws were short-lived though, due to that post you see just to the left of the trail.

Here's another one that's in better shape. It's a telephone line, one of the first rural phone lines in the west, constructed around 1914. Back then it was a three day trip from Brown's Park to Rock Springs, making Brown's Park one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 and an ideal outlaw hideout. When the telephone came those days were over.

Considerable ingenuity went into the construction of the phone line. Untreated pine poles set in the ground would have rotted off in short order, so rot-resistent juniper posts were used and the pine poles, only about 12-14 feet long, were wired to them. Ninety years later many of the juniper posts remain standing, although standing poles like the one pictured are very rare.

@5:12 AM

Wednesday, July 20, 2005- - -  
The Days of Our Lives
Sometimes when people are crying "Fool!" it's best to put on the cap and bells and play the part for all it's worth. July 3rd, I chastised James Taranto for a lack of fact-checking in accusing the AP of a lack of fact-checking. Well, I've got to give him credit, he's handled his little fax paws with rare good humor. He's also playing it for all it's worth. He's still capering and bopping himself with a bladder July 14th and the series of posts has become positively hilarious.

That 'Royal We' thing sure can get convoluted though. Says Taranto: "For our part, we'd rather have a bottle in front of us than a frontal lobotomy." Ookaaayyy... but Why have just one?

Steve Den Beste writes:
You might be interested in the fact that the originator of that quip was the great comedian Fred Allen, and his version of it was: "I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy." Allen was quite the adept hand at the clever quip:

I like this one in particular: "Television is a device that permits people who haven't anything to do to watch people who can't do anything.. [It is] radio fluoroscoped; the triumph of machinery over people; a "medium" because anything good on it is "rare." (Allen was a star of radio comedy.)

Thanks Steve, Fred Allen was certainly one of a kind. Perhaps James Taranto is bucking to one-up him and become two of a kind?

@8:38 AM

Tuesday, July 19, 2005- - -  
For sure
Mark Steyn -- "The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook's drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook's wife to some reporter, then you've departed the real world and you're frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo."

@8:47 PM

Monday, July 18, 2005- - -  
Ozymandias, King of Kings

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822

@6:36 AM

Yes, I get my calendar at the feed store

Lex Graham's Back Forty calendars have a certain wry humor I can often relate to.

@6:21 AM

Old Green

Here's a cool picture (yeah, that's snow). This isn't just a truck, it's the truck, in a Jungian sort of way. My 1973 F250 HighBoy. Sadly, it's been relegated to weekend warrior status by newer, shinier pickups and Jeeps, but I've still got to keep it around. I need it to tow the new vehicles down to the shop.

@6:00 AM

Saturday, July 16, 2005- - -  
Godwin's Law Lives!
David Weigel says it's time for all the jack-booted Godwinians to back off. After all, calling your political opponents or anyone who disagrees with you Nazis is just a useful rhetorical device, right?

Hm.. Well, it would seem to me that comparing Pol Pot, or Stalin, or Saddam, to Hitler isn't out of line — they are comparable, monsters one and all. Unfortunately, the N-bomb too often gets dropped like a turd in the punchbowl of discussion, foreclosing any further rational debate. "You don't like Hillary? You must be some kind of F'ing Nazi!" or "George Bush is a Nazi!" Umhumm. Where do you go from there? "Oh yeah? Who's your daddy? Don't know, do you?" Or maybe clap your hands over your ears and shout "La La La, I can't hear you!" Either way, the discussion is over.

It seems to me that it isn't the use of the Nazi appellation as rhetorical device that's bad per se, it's that it's too often used as a conversation stopper, an all-purpose trump card that would win every debate if it were allowed. "I've had my say, now I'll just call everyone Nazis and, voila!, end of discussion." It's like a low blow in boxing, if it were allowed the most strident debater would always win — at least in the sense of having the last word — rather than the person with the most reasoned argument. So think of Godwin as a sort of rhetorical Marquis de Queensbury, where the referee is always watching!

@10:24 AM

There goes the price of groceries
Ted Balaker has an interesting piece at Reason Online on hybrid cars. The part that caught my eye was his indictment of "gross" polluters, which he characterizes as 'older, dirtier cars'. Now I'm sure that my 1973 F250 HighBoy would fit that category, 'smog control' wasn't in the lexicon when it was built, nor was 'fuel economy' for that matter (if you want a picture of the truck, look up "gas guzzler" in the dictionary). Likewise, there's that last Studebaker Hawk soaring down the interstate.

However, you don't have to spend much time on the road to notice that the biggest polluters are the big rigs. Diesel-powered semi tractors and other large commercial vehicles. Balaker suggests targeting gross polluters with remote sensing technology, a fine idea, But. Do you exempt commercial vehicles, just as diesels are exempted from some pollution standards now? If the goal is to reduce air pollution, then that would be defeating the purpose from the start. On the other hand, those big rigs that deliver so much of the stuff we need every day cost a fortune. Their operators count on getting half a million miles out of an engine, one of the reasons they often spew all that black smoke, they're just clapped out before they die. Crack down on them and the cost of all those goods and goodies you buy is going nowhere but up. An interesting dilemma: Clean air or cheap food?

Ps. Here's a nicely restored HighBoy, best 4WD ever built. Mine is a bit rustier, but we're working on that. Incidentally, they're not 'jacked up' they came from the factory with serious clearance, unlike a lot of these low-ridin' 4WDs they make now.

@7:25 AM

Thursday, July 14, 2005- - -  
Just in time for 2008!
A friend who fancies himself quite the makeup artist sent me several examples of his recent work. You would hardly guess that these are the same people, would you?

Oddly, he didn't want to claim one of his greatest recent challenges, but I dug out some photos of the artist in action. This looks difficult:

It took awhile, but he got her done! Amazing what you can do with enough spackle, isn't it?

@7:37 PM

Wednesday, July 13, 2005- - -  
Nobody does bonsai like ol' Ma Nature

Mondrian never had such a model.

@7:04 AM


"Bring some home for the wives!" and "Why have just one!" Brewed in Utah, you can bet this caused a major flap.

First in a series, my attempt to be fearlessly frivolous. (If not fearless, mentioning polygamy this close to Utah is at least scandalous!) BTW, are Sarah and Barbara related? It would seem so.

Hat tip Ann Althouse via InstaPundit

@6:40 AM

Monday, July 11, 2005- - -  
Col. Colt made us equal

The InstaPundit points to an interesting article he wrote on Human Rights, that reminded me to post a couple of photos:

My favorite equalizer, a Colt MK IV/Series '70 Government Model 45 automatic. This one has too many modifications to list, but note the Ed Brown tritium front sight and matching plain black rear, a modern rendition of the McGivern 'speed bead' sights. A skeletonized Chip McCormick hammer and sear provide a poor-man's trigger job, while an Ed Brown beavertail with memory hump prevents 'hammer pinch'. Brownell's black moly finish kills glare and smooths the slide action. Finally, faux ivory grips with Colt medallions from Boone Trading cater to my magpie instincts, while plain black micarta grips sub when I do any significant amount of shooting. (The ivory goes a long way toward relieving the 'scary black gun' look, without materially reducing the function of the weapon.)

The backstrap, front strap, and front of the trigger guard are checkered 30 lpi and left sharp, guaranteed to chew on your hand but provide an absolutely positive grip with cold, wet or hot, sweaty hands. Finally, an old King's ambidextrous safety, now manufactured by Mueschke, makes the old hammer usable for a southpaw without any extentions or widening that would add bulk.

Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines have never bobbled in this gun, and the extended base pad, along with a beveled magazine well, provide positive reloads, just in case the first nine Federal hydrashoks aren't enough.

@10:47 PM

Wild and crazy guys

I think I've seen these guys a couple of times when I'd had too much tequila. From the Legend Rock site west of Worland, Wyo, these 'glyphs tell a story. One day when I've got plenty of time I'll put together a post or six about altered states and religious ecstatic experience.

@8:44 PM

My 'Baby Boomer'

I think Elmer would approve. He was fond of a handy 4" handgun with plenty of power, and this is the handiest of the .44 magnums, my Mountain Gun. This one has aged ivory micarta grips from Don Collins, and a Threepersons-style holster by yours truly. Being left-handed I have a hell of a time finding decent gun leather, and I also have my own notions of what a holster should be. You will note that this holster, like all I make, has a Sam Brown stud to hold the retaining strap rather than a snap. Out in the woods any metallic noise instantly gives you away as "Human! Run! Run!" I can slip the strap off one of my holsters without alarming the whole neighborhood.

@7:46 PM

One of my better pix

Wyoming is known for its xeriscapes, but when you find a spring or bog you can find some truly unusual plants. These are wild irises from a spring just west of South Baxter Oil Camp, south of Rock Springs.

@7:20 PM

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a million of 'em

One of my favorite 'odd spots'. The Accidental Oil Company, just east of Newcastle, Wyoming. A 'hand dug' oil well. We've never been there when they were giving tours of the well, but we've checked out the "Gift Tank", a tourist gift shop in the old oil tank just to the left of the sign. Actually, a cut above your usual rubber tomahawks and cedar toothpick holders, we bought some gourmet mustards that were darn good.

@6:57 PM

Timmy's in the well!

Our hero!

Somewhere around midnight last night Fred started jumping up and down on me. He'll do this if I don't get up and feed him at his usual breakfast time, around 4:30 am, but he's not usually so persistent. If I scratch his head and then roll over and go back to sleep he usually settles in and is at least somewhat patient for awhile. But not last night. First he'd jump on me and squack, then he'd run into the living room and squack some more, then run back to the bedroom and jump on me again. Until I was finally awake enough to notice a funny sound (neep! neep! neep!). It sounded like one of the GPS units when they lose satellite transmission (damn! Did I leave a GPS on?). But no, even in my fog I was pretty certain I'd left the GPSs in the Jeep. Was it from outside? No, it was pretty faint, but sounded like it was inside. [Groan] What is that noise? Not the smoke alarm or CO detector, both are loud enough to wake the dead, as they should be. And all through this Fred is doing his 'Timmy's in the well' routine (Lassie eat your heart out!).

Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled into the living room and turned on the light (neep! neep! neep!). What the heck? It's the uninterruptible power supply on my main computer! What's with that? Oh, we've lost AC power! With the exception of the microwave, TV, and computer, everything else in the 5th wheel operates on a huge honkin' deep cycle 12v battery, so I had lights, etc, and didn't notice the AC power failure. [Sigh] Check the breakers -- okay. Stagger outside and check the main breaker at the meter -- okay. Hmm... awfully dark out here, all the street lights are out too. So, it's not my problem. Go in and turn off the UPS (neep! neep! ne...), silence.

So it turned out not to be anything serious, but Fred knew there was something amiss and he wasn't going to give up until I got up to check it out. And it could have been something serious. Good kitty!

@6:16 PM

Sunday, July 10, 2005- - -  
Shall we dance?

From the Legend Rock site west of Worland, these little guys are one of my all time favorite pieces of rock art. (Speaking of which, would "Legend Rock" make a great name for a band, or what?)

@6:31 AM

Friday, July 08, 2005- - -  
The dreadful fate of the rodeo steer

A nice piece by a talented friend, Calvin Fulfer. He'll tile your floor, or your counter top, or anything else that will hold still long enough. An artist in tile (and wood, and welding, and pretty much anything else he puts his mind to).

@7:09 PM

Thursday, July 07, 2005- - -  
Just another lousy day in paradise

Here we're looking down the old Cherokee Trail toward Shell Creek, in far southeast Sweetwater County, Wyoming. This segment of the trail was previously undocumented due to an error in the old 1883 General Land Office maps, but we managed to track it down. The Davidson and Allen grave sites depicted on the Trail website are at the base of the high bluff in the distance.

Not a bad day at all, although the gray sky in the photo is due to wildfires somewhere to the west. It's been pretty smokey off and on the last couple of weeks despite all the rain we've gotten.

@7:02 PM

From the Legend Rock site west of Worland, Wyoming, these bits of prehistoric graffiti would appear to have been left behind by tourists. First we have a nice Navaho family (the carving appears to depict a woman with the Navaho 'squash blossom' hair style). Then, a distinctly Mimbres-style rabbit from the American southwest. Maybe they were on their way to Yellowstone? They were certainly far from home.

Ps. Most amazing, Blogger up-loaded three photos in a row without a hitch (the previous success rate was about one in five). It appears that the good folks down Blogger way are getting their new feature debugged.

@6:56 AM

I've hit Rock Bottom

The Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery that is. On the 16th Street mall in Denver. A good place to quaff a quick one and watch the people go by. I bought the T-shirt for a fireman neighbor.

@6:48 AM

Wednesday, July 06, 2005- - -  
Guns & Ammo has an interesting article on line about the 6mm Remington and reloading for varmints. What caught my eye was the 4000+ fps velocities their loads give with 55 grain bullets. Very interesting. I took my last deer, a little whitetail buck, with my 6mm, and really like the caliber for deer and antelope and [cough] coyotes [cough]. I've usually used the 95 grain Nosler partition and Speer 100 grain soft point. Although autopsies indicate that these bullets do plenty of damage inside, they punch holes in hides that you can barely find. This isn't a bad thing when you're hunting furbearers, but it results in poor blood trails on game animals, probably contributing to the misgivings many have on hunting with this caliber. Having always had good luck with heavier bullets, I've never tried the 6mm with bullets that were much lighter, but I'm intrigued by this article. A 55 grain 6mm bullet is going to be a stubby little thing and probably not so good at long range, but it might make a real super zapper for close range varmints.

@8:58 AM

Tuesday, July 05, 2005- - -  
Another mountain bike adventure

They were right, the road is impassable in places. Easier to lug a bicycle over your shoulder than a 4WD though. Red Butte, centerpiece of the Red Butte Wilderness Study Area, is visible in the distance. The area is a few miles west of Worland, Wyo. We never knew there were so many WSAs until we started looking for scenic places to ride. A pretty area and a fairly easy ride, at least where you could ride.

@7:51 PM

Teddy would approve

Roosevelt had an affinity for Tiffany-handled bowie knives, and owned more than one ivory-gripped revolver. These are my Chief's Special and my dad's service revolver, an S&W Combat Masterpiece, both .38 Specials. The grips are faux ivory from Boone Trading.

Look closely at the Little Chief, it's a Fitz conversion with bobbed hammer and trigger guard. This was a popular modification from the 1920s through 1950s and gains its name from a gunsmith at the Colt factory who specialized in making belly guns out of the large frame revolvers of the time. I've even seen M1911s from that era with bobbed trigger guards! When hammerless models were unavailable and 'Bodyguards' were rare, bobbing the hammer made for more snag-free operation in guns for concealment. Removing the trigger guard isn't particularly dangerous on a gun with a 12-pound double action trigger pull (just be careful when you holster it!) and makes little guns easier to handle for folks with Big Fingers.

Both of these handguns have logged many miles but retain most of their finish thanks to the occasional wipe with an oily cloth. I find Birchwood Casey's "Sheath" particularly effective at protecting blued finishes from moisture and fingerprints, but don't use it as a lubricant, it dries into a fine, thick goo!

@6:48 AM

Are you sure this is such a good idea?

Jumping off into the Garden of the Gods, west of Worland, Wyoming, my chosen home town. This is a spectacularly colorful area of badlands formed by erosion of the Eocene Willwood Formation. The Willwood was a river delta about 50-55 million years ago and the banding colors are caused by succeeding inundation and exposure of the surface. The red bands are caused by oxidation of the iron-rich soil when it was exposed to air, while the gray and green bands were formed underwater.

But somehow, in this case knowing how it got here doesn't spoil its beauty one bit.

Ps. Hmmm.. Higher resolution would sure be nice. I'm not usually that blurry, except from the inside looking out.

PPs. Here's another view, Paradise Alley, in the same general vicinity:

Much better! Sometimes it seems that the pixel pixies just don't like a particular photo. For some reason Blogger really doesn't like the photos from my wife's camera. That's okay though. When it comes to pictures of me, the blurrier they are the easier they'll be on your eyes.

@6:20 AM

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