Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Letter from Santa

From: Santa Claus

I regret to inform you that, effective immediately, I will no longer serve the States of Georgia, Florida, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas on Christmas Eve.

Due to the overwhelming current population of the earth, my contract was renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local 209. As part of the new and better contract I also get longer breaks for milk and cookies so keep that in mind.

However, I'm certain that your children will be in good hands with your local replacement, who happens to be my third cousin, Bubba Claus. His side of the family is from the South Pole. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls; however, there are a few differences between us.  Differences such as:

1. There is no danger of the Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus. He has a gun rack on his sleigh and a bumper sticker that reads:  "These toys insured by Smith and Wesson."

2. Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave an RC cola and pork rinds [or a moon pie] on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn't smoke a pipe. He dips a little snuff though, so please have an empty spit can handy.

3. Bubba Claus' sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared, flyin' coon dogs instead of reindeer. I made the mistake of loaning him a couple of my reindeer one time, and Blitzen's head now overlooks Bubba's fireplace.

4. You won't hear "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen.." when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead, you'll hear, "On Earnhardt, on Andretti, on Elliott and Petty."

5. " Ho, Ho, Ho!" has been replaced by "Yee Haw!" And you also are likely to hear Bubba's elves respond, "I her'd dat!"

6. As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus' sleigh does have a Yosemite Sam safety triangle on the back with the words "Back Off."

7. The usual Christmas movie classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful Life" will not be shown in your negotiated viewing area. Instead, you'll see "Boss Hogg Saves Christmas" and "Smokey and the Bandit IV" featuring Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus and dozens of state patrol cars
crashing into each other.

And Finally,

8. Bubba Claus doesn't wear a belt. If I were you, I'd make sure you, the wife, and the kids turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

Sincerely Yours,
Santa Claus

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Endeavouring to Persevere

I joined a facebook group about reloading a year or so ago.  I thought I might learn something.  I did learn that people are powder coating and painting lead bullets and that they work about as well in handguns as plated bullets but, for the most part, the group doesn't seem to be exactly my cup of tea.  

It seems like most of the posts are by people who want to know how far to seat their bullets off the lands in their rifle, people who seat their bullets to the cannelure but aren't happy because they think they are too far off the lands when they do that, people who want to talk about stainless steel pins for tumbling media or people that want someone to tell them their load data so they don't have to look it up for themselves or actually do any shooting to develop a good load.

Occasionally, some old curmudgeon will comment something to the effect of "why don't you buy a book, go to the powder company's website, read the label on the can of powder and do what it says or shoot your gun to find out what it likes?"  For the most part though, people will chime in with answers.  

Most of the time the answers seem reasonable.  Sometimes some of them are just plain dangerous and the people that post them are too ignorant to know it.  Some day, someone who doesn't know better will actually do what some of the stupider people say and somebody or their gun will get hurt.

By contrast, a month or so ago, I helped a buddy get started reloading for his 30-30.   We went over the basics of using the various tools that were in the box of slightly used equipment that he bought but we didn't actually load any ammo because he hadn't decided where he wanted to set up his reloading operation.  We planned to get together the next weekend and load some ammo but one thing after another kept getting in the way and it didn't happen.

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy called me to tell me that he wanted me to come look at the ammo that he had loaded.   He proceeded to tell me about every step of the process and about how well it shot and wanted to know where he could get more powder and bullets.  I went by last weekend and we did some shooting and his ammo was plenty good enough for anything  you'd expect to be able to do with a Marlin 336 .  Funny thing is, my buddy is recovering from a divorce and doesn't have internet.  Can't afford it just yet.   How the heck did he load good ammo on his first try without someone to show him what to do and without access to the internet?   Lacking digital sources of misinformation, he had gone all analog.    

I had given him an early 1970s vintage Speer reloading manual and told him that the data was out of date but the "how-to" section in the front would tell him what he needed to know about the process.  That crafty devil sat down and read the book.

There's even more.   It seems that the powder measure and the powder scale came with printed documents called "Instructions."   After reading the book, he read those "Instructions"  too.   Then he applied what he learned from the book and the "instructions"  and loaded some pretty darned good ammo.  Who knew that books and instructions still work?

The last time I looked at the facebook page, some guy was asking whether he needed to keep his powder refrigerated.  I'm not making that up.

Suddenly, A Cow

Suddenly, a cow runs out into the road and a limo driving late at night hits it head on and the car comes to a stop.

The woman in the back seat - in her usual abrasive manner, says to the chauffeur "You get out and check out that poor cow."

So the chauffeur gets out, checks and reports back that the animal is dead but it appeared to be very old.

Well, says the woman, " you were driving, so you go over to that farmhouse and tell the farmer what you did."

Two hours later the chauffeur returns totally inebriated, a full belly, his hair ruffled, and a big grin on his face!

"My God, what happened to you?" asked the woman.

The chauffeur replies, "When I got there, the farmer opened his best bottle of single malt scotch, the wife gave me a meal fit for a king, and the daughter made love to me."

"What on earth did you say?" asked the woman.

When the door opened I just said that I was Nancy Pelosi's driver and I've just killed the old cow.

Don't you just love happy endings?

Found at The 24 Hour Campfire

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Think I'm Allergic to A Certain Blogger

Every time "LB" writes something like this, my allergies get all cranked up.

Would We All Be Like The Dog

Where'd I leave my handkerchief?

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Shooter and Range Report

My brother-in-law's kids are heavily into baseball.  They are good at it.  Their team went to the playoffs  this year.  With four kids across a broad age spectrum, they always seem to be doing baseball all the time so I didn't really expect any reply other than "sorry, we have a game that day" when I sent brother-in-law a message on Thursday suggesting that we all go to the range on Saturday.

The Lovely Bride took our niece shopping on Black Friday and I spent most of Friday wrestling with a problem on my home computer so I was a little surprised when TLB came home and said that her our niece had invited us to go shooting with her, her mother (TLB's sister), her other uncle ("the brother-in-law") and three of his kids.   TLB wanted to know if I knew anything about it.  Being the honest and upstanding kind of guy that I am, I agreed that I might possibly have been the instigator.   I hadn't heard from her brother so I had just assumed that he had a game.   When I checked my messages on Facebook, he had replied that they all wanted to go.   I hadn't checked all day because of the computer trouble.  I really didn't think I needed to.   Might be why I "didn't get" his reply.

Brother-in-law (TLB's brother) had run into Sister-in-Law (TLB's sister) sometime on Friday and invited her and the niece along.  Between my computer headache and the bunch of them text messaging, everybody knew about it before I did.

We got our plans coordinated with the brother-in-law and TLB told her sister that she and the niece had to ride with us because we had to go over rules and how to operate the various types of guns before we got to the range.   You aren't allowed to touch your guns until the range is hot and there's too much shooting going on to show them anything once the range goes hot.

So we picked up the Sister-in-Law and niece and took a shortcut from their place to the Hernando Sportsman's Club.

Got there a few minutes early, checked out the club house, paid our fees and got our stuff all set up.  Their website won't let me copy any more pictures but its a really nice place.

Sister-in-Law recently completed her safety class for her carry permit.  She was familiar with revolvers from the class but had no experience with semi-autos so we brought a few of each for her to try out so she could decide which she preferred.

TLB and Sister-in-Law started out with the new SCCY 9mm whilst the niece and I took the next bench over with the little bull-barreled H&R .32 Magnum.  I know, H&R is supposed to be a cheap gun and far beneath the status of any serious shooter but this one has a rounded grip frame and a bull barrel and its easy and fun to shoot.  Kids like it because its "a magnum" but its comfortable in their hands, has good, adjustable sights, the trigger is smooth and its accurate.   Its a nice gun. I like it.

Niece did  pretty darned well for a first time shooter.

All of her shots were on the board and a lot of them were in the black. 

When they called the range cold, the RSO told me he thought she did pretty well since she didn't shoot the target stand like so many people do and he was really impressed when I told him that this was her first time ever pulling a trigger.  That got him wound up.   As I passed the niece on my way to put up a new target, I told her that the RSO wanted to talk to her.  She got a worried look on her face and asked "what did I do?" and I told her to just ask him to tell her what he told me.  By the time I got back, she was beaming and the RSO had gone to his truck to get a semi-auto .22 rifle with a red dot sight on it.

There were pieces of orange sporting clays targets strewn about underneath the target stands.  When the range went hot again, he had her shooting those orange fragments with that rifle.  She tore them up!

I know; she has that girly, reverse shooting posture thing going on but she's a girl so its OK and we weren't trying to make her into a three gun champion.   We were giving her a fond memory.  We   were   having   fun.   That mission was accomplished.

This  is one of the reasons I like the Hernando Sportsman's Club.   Think about it.  We were shooting at maybe fifteen yards.   The RSO keeps a rifle in his truck with a red dot sight on it and its sighted in at 15 yards.   He keeps that rifle set up just so kids and new shooters will have a good shooting experience!   To me, that's what its all about.   I hate to think what he spends on ammo every month just to be kind to kids like that. 

Along the way, we tried out a few other pistols.   TLB had one failure to feed in the SCCY.  She was shooting Remington FMJ ammo.  I've really been disappointed in their rimfire ammo lately but their center fire stuff seems to work fine so I don't blame the ammo.  I'm not going to complain about the gun yet either.  I've read good and bad reviews about the SCCY guns and most of the bad ones were obviously written by morons.  I'll probably write a rant about that later.   The manuals for a lot of high dollar "carry guns" tell you to shoot 200 or so rounds through the new guns before you consider them reliable.   This was less than 40 rounds into the first 200.   It did fine with some 147 grain Gold Dots that I had loaded for my Luger several years ago.   The Beretta Tomcat had three consecutive failures to feed shooting Privi Partizan hardball.   It wasn't ejecting the fired cases fast enough.  I put in some 85 grain Hornady JHP loads that I worked up to make a friend's Lorcin actually function and it sure didn't have a problem ejecting those cases. I think maybe the Privi stuff was a tad on the mild side.

Actually, its TLB's friend that has the Lorcin.   Just want to make that clear.  K?

To my eye, few guns are more elegant than the Luger so I made sure sister-in-law and niece both got to fire it a little.



Neither of them liked it much.  Mushy Luger trigger and crappy Luger sights.

Naturally, the Glock was boring as stale bread.  It just worked perfectly all day long.


Nobody wanted to try the big scary .45 so I had it all to myself when I wasn't keeping magazines loaded for the ladies. I got the sights set where I want them so that was a good thing.

Sister-in-Law didn't like the automatics nearly as much as the revolvers.  Hmmm.   Maybe Lugers are good for something after all.  She's decided on a revolver and its going to be a .38 Special.    That's another mission accomplished. 

After making about a gallon of brass, we packed up and headed North to Crystal River for lunch at Crackers

(that's the only picture their site will let me copy)

and to check out a new store called "Rural King." 

I call it "new" because I had never heard of it before this weekend but their website says they have seventy-six stores in ten States and they've been around since 1960.  Reckon I oughtta get out more.

Its kind of like a Tractor Supply Store but its huge and has more of everything.  It even has a nice little gun department with prices that didn't look bad. 

They even had one of these in stock:

When we dropped Sister-in-Law and niece off they thanked us for the good time and the niece asked why the RSO kept calling her "Annie Okra."   I told her that he was saying "Oakley" and why it was a compliment. 

I suggested that she Google it.

I know the tradition here is to post some "brass catcher" pictures whenever actual shooting occurs but this was a family outing.  I'm going to keep it respectable this time.  That Black Friday post ought to have enough pulchritude to last anybody until Wednesday anyway.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1950 Studebaker Commercial

Good Deeds, Punishmment, etc

A couple of years ago, one of my brothers in law was lamenting the cost of 7mm Remington Magnum ammunition.  He was shooting 150 grain Ballistic Silvertips in factory ammo and it was over sixty bucks a box at Gooseburg.  It shot very well so he wanted to stick with it but the thought of having to buy more just plain hurt.

I told him that I could get those bullets and load them in his cases but we'd probably have to tweak the load a few times before we got it to shoot as well as what he was using.

He brought me his empty brass and one of his unfired cartridges.  I measured the unfired one with my hexagon bullet comparator thingy and loaded up twenty rounds with H-1000.  Its always been good to me in the 7mm Rem. Mag. so it seemed like a good place to start.   I didn't hear from him again until one week ago.  That's two years later.

Last week, out of nowhere, he called me raving about that ammo.  He hadn't used it until a week before when he and a buddy decided to have a shooting contest.  They were shooting on his buddy's farm at a measured 600 yards.  He ran out of factory ammo and started using the stuff I had loaded for him.  He tells me that he shot a 6 shot group at 600 yards and all the holes were touching.

Uh-huh.  Sure he did.  A single monkey just sat down at a single typewriter and produced a perfect copy of War and Peace by randomly hitting the keys on his very first try too.

Where are my waders?

I kept listening while he raved about the ammo, my reloading skills and what great friends we are.  Pretty soon, the smoke cleared and the call started to make sense.

It seems that his friend was so impressed with the ammo (evidently it did shoot a good group.  I just don't believe it was 6 touching at 600 yards) that he wants me to load some for his 300 Win. Mag.   That friend  told another friend and that other friend wants me to load for him too.  By coincidence, brother in law just happened to have their brass ready for me to load.

Who could have seen that coming?

I reminded brother in law that I had to measure his factory ammo before I loaded anything.

"Do you have any of their live ammo for me to measure?"  

"Well, no, actually.  They shot all their ammo up. "

"Aw shucks.  Not much I can do without knowing where to start."  

"OK.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Bye."

As predictable as sunrise in the East.

Had No Idea...

...Obama Was On Dancing With The Stars

Monday, November 24, 2014

The S be fixin' ta HTF

According to addictinginfo.org a woman was recently denied the purchase of a firearm because the St. Louis Police told the gun shop to remove all of the firearms and ammunition from the store.

The whole story including a link that works is here:


Interesting Little Canon

Found it on Defending the Heritage's Facebook Page.

The write up next to the flag calls it an automatic canon but with a  15-20 round per minute rate of fire, I suspect it was an advanced breech loading single shot.  Still a pretty advanced little gun for its time.

More info at:  http://www.williammaloney.com/Aviation/WatervlietArsenalMuseum/EarlyCannon/pages/07WilliamsAutomaticCannon.htm

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Florida Hunting Back in the Day

Sporting Classics Magazine does a daily, on-line edition and today's had a photo essay on hunting in Florida way back in 1896.  Several good pictures there.   Except for the clothes and the fact that we can't kill game anymore without a short uber-magnum or something "tactical,"  I don't see much difference between these photos and hunting today besides the the bag limits. Of course, wherever these were taken is probably a high rise building now.

That's just one of a whole pile of good pictures.    Check out the whole essay.   Sporting Classics Magazine is always worth a look-see.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Early Post for Veterans Day

I know its not the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month yet but I'm gonna be busy right about then and I happened to spot this while coming home from church this morning:

Not too many things that could be.   It wasn't alone either.   This fellow was parked a few yards away.

A little friend showed up just after we got there.

I took the tour a few years ago but It was worth going again.  

Seemed like it was a mite easier squeezin' through the bomb bay the first time.  Maybe I'd better go back and read that Treadclimber post again.

These old planes have always fascinated me.  I work my way through them thinking about all the men that flew in them and the kinds of things they went through.

Gregory Freeman's "The Forgotten 500" isn't really about fighting in the old planes.  Its about the rescue of several hundred of our airmen from Yugoslavia during the war but they got there by being shot down so it does have a few accounts of what that could be like.     Fun stuff like flying along with gasoline sloshing around the floor from shot up fuel tanks or flying straight into a mountain on an overcast day.    I think about that when I hear some actor or sports figure say that his job is more stressful or more dangerous or more anything than being in the military.

 You couldn't get me to slide into a ball turret and dangle down there under the plane waiting for somebody in a Messerschmitt  to shoot at us.  (Seriously,  I'm too fat and I don't bend so good anymore.  I don't think I'd fit).   We sent a whole lot of men up there and they did just that.  A lot of them just kids.

I've known a few of those kids over the years.  One fellow was in The Great Escape (the actual escape, not the movie) and another volunteered for B 29s after flying B 17s in Europe.   Met a new one today.  Leo did 24 missions in B 24s.   He stood on the runway and looked at the planes but didn't go inside.   I kind of suspect that a fellow's best memories of one of these would be climbing out of them so I didn't ask.  I just thanked him for serving and took a picture for him of him and his son in front of the B 24.

You hear "Wright Cyclone" and you don't usually think "Studebaker" but they built their share of them too along with the trucks that kept Stalin's Armies rolling and the Weasels that did everything but climb trees and fly.  Odds are good that the Merlin in that P 51 was built by Packard.  Ford built a whole bunch of the B 24s.  Everybody that could build something built something to help win that war.

All in all a nice little surprise to show up right before Veteran's Day.


Friday, November 7, 2014

A Dog Story With a Happy Ending

Really neat story at Neanderpundit:

Is the little dog gonna be OK, Uncle Lair?

So last weekend, my dear old friend and confidant Mlle Jenny is on her way to Road Atlanta, where she is a timekeeper, does all the tough work of making sure everyone’s every second is counted.
And on the way her co-worker, who is driving, says “Oh! I think I hit a dog!” they hear a thump but it’s too dark and too late to do much about it, and Jenny doesn’t see anything, they drive on.

The whole story is here

Hoss on Multi-Tasking

He had big hands and that looked like a pretty good fit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Little Sanity Prevails in Flori-duh

Well, the corruptrightwingextremistteabagginghomophobicislamophobicgaiaphobicpuppydrowning and just downright evil Republican (redundancy alert) Rick Scott beat the altruistic, pro-middle class, tender-hearted reincarnation of Mother Theresa, Honest Charlie Crist,  (this week's party affiliation not yet announced and who is now probably off campaigning for his next elected office) despite there being a 3rd party candidate in the race who was talking about limiting government.

Florida's Amendment 2 failed to pass.  It had 58% of the votes in its favor but, since its a Constitutional Amendment, it required 60% to pass.

Amendment 2 would have legalized medical marijuana - sort of.  My big problem with that, despite having just that many more impaired drivers on the roads, is that medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since the 1990s.   There are legal growers called "care givers" who are issued a State card that shows that they are growing legally and they grow the supply needed for a specific patient or patients.  I know people in this business.  It has been legal here since the 1990s. 

As it has been explained to me by people legally in the business, Amendment 2 would have revamped how its done so that existing care givers would be grandfathered in and all the marijuana for the surge of new patients would be grown by a small number of companies more or less chartered by the State to grow it.  (I suspect that there would have been a little loosening of the threshold for establishing a legitimate medical need for the stuff too but I haven't actually been told that).    I bet you can't guess who (so I have been told) has ties  to all of those proposed new companies.  I'm not going to post that person's name because newspaper articles, web postings and videos that have mentioned the connection have disappeared within a few minutes to a few hours of being posted.  So go ahead.  Take a guess for yourself.  Take a guess for the people.

On the other hand, Alan Grayson got re-elected.

I did say " A Little."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014


If that isn't a real Tiger I, its the most convincing model I've ever seen.  I do believe that its real.  It might be that full sized replica that somebody built a few years ago.    Its definitely not one of the T 34s made up to look like Tiger Is from Kellys Heroes and Private Ryan.

My dad was a teacher with the Army Reserve and he did two "summer camps" teaching some kind of fancy rocket science at Aberdeen Proving Ground back in the early 1970s.   He took me and my brother along both times and we had nothing to do on base except hang out at the museum.   We crawled all over every tank in the museum.  We'd have probably crawled all over the V2 if they hadn't had it fenced off where we couldn't get to it.   It got so bad that the MPs were kind enough to explain their reluctance to let us continue doing that one afternoon the second year.  

They had an old fellow working in the museum's gift shop and he used to talk about the Tiger Is in Kellys Heroes.   He had worked on captured equipment during the war and had driven most of the stuff in the museum back when we were figuring out what we had to beat.  He is the one that told me what the Kelly's Heroes Tigers were.  I knew they weren't real because they were so small and the wheels and tracks weren't right but I was so used to seeing American tanks standing in for German tanks, I kept trying to figure out which American tank they were made from.  He said that he kept thinking they looked too small and then he realized that they were T 34s and it all made sense.  They filmed Kelly's Heroes in Yugoslavia.   T 34s were abundant in Yugoslavia.  D-oh!

I always wondered why no movie studio ever got a real German tank and used it.    I mean, France used Panthers into the 1950s until they got their own industry back in shape and various Arab nations used Mk IVs into the 1960s.  Its not like there weren't any German tanks to be had.

Then along came Private Ryan and all the commercials and write ups had to mention that they used a "real German Panzer."   Since the climactic battle is with the Tiger tanks, one naturally inferred that they used a real Tiger tank.   Such was not the case.  The real "German Panzer" in Private Ryan was the little Marder that shot the top out of the bell tower.  The Tigers were the Kelly's Heroes Tigers.    Better than using M 47s but still a disappointment after they had harped so much on the "real German Panzer" in the movie.

(Found my Picture)

I've read some reviews of Fury that pick on some tactical details and I spotted a few myself ( I believe that the Germans generally shot at the enemy tank with the longest barrel first since it was the one that could hurt them ) but it would have been a short movie if they hadn't made those mistakes.

Some reviews say that the Germans couldn't have moved a battalion down a road in the daylight that late in the war without attracting fighter-bombers.  I think that those reviewers might think otherwise if they had read Steven Harding's "The Last Battle."  The end of Fury bears some tiny  resemblance to what happened there.   In this case, I do think that's a hole in the story because, in Fury, the Germans were spotted by a reconnaissance plane.  Instead of sending fighters, we sent four Shermans.   Still, things happen in war and you go with what you have.

The Shermans in the movie are a mix from the old M4A1 with the rounded, cast hull to the late model M4A3E8.   People rag on the Sherman all the time because it wasn't a match for the Panther or Tiger but it wasn't ever supposed to be.  It was supposed to beat the tanks the Germans used in Poland and France;  Mk IIIs with 37mm and short 50mm guns and Mk IVs with short 75 mm howitzers.  It did that when it got to Africa but by the time we got to Europe, we were facing stuff the Germans had  developed to fight outnumbered against the Russian T 34.   We couldn't just say "hold the war while we catch up."  We went with what we had and improved it every way we could while developing the M 26 Pershing.  So yes, our Shermans were badly outclassed by the best German tanks but it wasn't because they were particularly crappy.  They were doing a job they were never intended to do.  Fury will show you what that meant to the guys that had to fight in them.   It ain't pretty.

I've never been in a war.  Never even been in the Military.  (But I have been in a Pzkpfw Mk IV - heh!).  I have an appreciation for Military people and Military things because of my dad's time in the Service and  the time I got to spend at various places where the Army sent him to teach every summer.  I've studied history and have a fancy degree in it.  In high school, I knew a lot more about history than any of my history "teachers."   (I had one in 11th grade who thought Eisenhower was a British Field Marshal.  She was a teenager when Eisenhower was President but she thought he was a British Field Marshal. Ugh!).  Anyway, I have no first hand experience in what being in a war is like but I have that book-learnin.'  I have talked to combat veterans from WW2 and have a friend or two who saw more than their share of combat in Iraq.  The combat scenes in Fury ring true with what I have read, what I've been told and the pictures that I have seen that were taken in Iraq after firefights.  (I'm not talkin' pictures that you'd see on the news).  So, if you want to take the word of someone that's never seen combat of any kind, its the most realistic war movie I've ever seen. 

Definitely go see it.  Then go thank a Vet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tigers in the Mud

Every now and then, I'll buy a book that a blogger recommends.  Sometimes they just review the book and it sounds interesting so I buy it. A couple of times, I've bought books recommended by bloggers that I liked to read and wound up losing interest in that blog because the book was such a disappointment.   I've bought a few that I found reading Free North Carolina.  I can't even remember all of them.  I have yet to be disappointed by any book Brock posts about.

A few weeks ago, Free North Carolina linked to a write up about Otto Carius' Tigers in the Mud.   I had seen the book on Amazon and  figured that it was just another memoir by a German soldier and he just happened to have some time in a Tiger Tank.   Its quite a bit more.

Having never heard of Otto Carius, I always thought that Michael Whittman with his 138 tank kills was the highest scoring Tank Ace ever.  The write up that Free North Carolina linked to said Carius had 150.  150 is more than 138 everywhere except in "communist core" math so that got me interested.   I won't ever make any money by knowing that but its nice to learn something new so I bought the Kindle book and began to learn more.

Most of Carius' experience was with the Tiger I.   I have always heard that "Tigers" were underpowered, unreliable, too heavy, too complex and too expensive.  Its a common statement that each one cost a million Reichmarks and that the Germans should have spent the money, time and resources building more of something cheaper.   Reading Carius' book leaves a different impression.

According to Caruis, the Tiger I had a top road speed of 45 kph and could do 20 kph cross country.  45 kph works out to about 27 mph.  Contrast that with the roughly 25 mph top speed of most variants of the nimble, quick and downright agile Sherman.    He said they only ran them 25 kph on the roads because faster speeds were hard on them but it could be done.   He says you could shift the transmission and steer it with two fingers and that it was as easy to drive as an automobile.  Underpowered and too heavy.  Uh huh.

The most common mechanical problem Carius talks about is shell fragments from Russian artillery getting into the grates on the engine decking where they cut the radiator hoses or poked holes in the radiators.  He doesn't ever  say the Tiger I was unreliable.  In fact, he liked it for its "robustness."   The only negative comment that he has on reliablity is that the carburetors were "too sensitive" compared to the diesel engines on the Russian tanks.    Just about any carbureted engine is going to have more sensitive carburetors than an engine that doesn't use carburetors.   Too complex and unreliable.   Right.

I have always suspected that historians have conflated the Panther's early reliability problems and the King Tiger's weight and power troubles with the Tiger I.  The book makes me think I may be right.  Caruis finished the war in a Jagd Tiger.  He does say those were underpowered and unreliable.   (He did like being able to shoot through a house and knock out a Sherman though).  I think he would have said so if the Tiger I suffered any of those problems.

Carius never addresses the cost issue.  He just talks about the tank for what it is but I think the book itself speaks to that point.   Time after time, Carius took his four Tiger Is out and stopped dozens of Russian tanks.  They were frequently used as a fire brigade to stop Russian breakthroughs.   So the Tiger I weighed something more than twice as much as a late model Mk IV.   Could eight or ten Mk IVs have done as much as those four Tiger Is?  Doubtful.   One of his stories involves rescuing a group of something like seventeen Stugs that were cut off by the Russians.  Did four Tiger Is cost as much as seventeen Stugs?   I don't know.   Did they use as much fuel?  Did they cost as much to maintain?   I doubt it.   It took twenty men to crew four Tiger Is.  It took as many men to crew a Mk IV or a Stug as a Tiger I.   Seventeen Stugs was eighty five men and they had to be rescued by twenty men in four Tiger Is.  If the Germans had built a lot more of something cheaper, where would they have gotten the men to crew them?  How would they have fed them if they had gotten them?  If they had the men to crew them, could they have actually  built four or five or six times as many Mk IVs as they built?  Maybe that's a question for Albert Speer.   About the only argument that can be made along the cost issue is that perhaps they should have built fewer Tiger Is in favor of more Panthers.   One is still left to wonder whether the Germans had the resources, men, guns and engines to field significantly more tanks than they did or the fuel to keep many more tanks running.

Funny how we are told that the Germans' big mistake in the air war was postponing development of jet fighters because they thought their Me 109 and FW 190 were good enough and that they made a big mistake in the ground war because they did go ahead and develop advanced, extremely capable tanks because the Mk IV was outclassed by the T-34.

(I find that I have misplaced the thumb drive that has the picture that I took of the Tiger I that was at Aberdeen Proving Grounds on it.  Dang.    Imagine something dark green that's really big and then imagine it about 20% bigger).

I think Tigers in the Mud demonstrates that the Tiger I was really, to borrow Charles Atwater's words, "a good, solid tank" and actually what the Germans needed by the time it got to the field.   Reading Caruis' book didn't leave me wondering whether the Germans should have built something cheaper instead of the Tiger I.   It left me wondering whether they wouldn't have fared a lot better if they had been  able to build 2,700 of them instead of just under half that many. 

I'm going to go see the movie "Fury" this weekend.  I am told that they actually use a Tiger I to play a Tiger I in the movie.   Those mocked up T-34s (yes, look at their wheels and tracks) that they fixed up to look like Tiger Is for the movie "Kelly's Heroes" and that made their way into "Saving Private Ryan" were better than Hollywood's usual practice of using M 47s, M 48s and M41s  (and sometimes even Shermans) for Tigers but I want to see the real thing.  I'm gonna be pig-bitin' mad if it ain't a real one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Its Fun to be the King


This mini Purdey was presented to King George V in 1935. The gun is fully functional. It breaks down into its own guncase and it even has cartridges made by Eley-Knoch that are just under a half-inch long loaded with 1.62 grains of powder and 2.02 grains of dust shot. It is said the King would shoot moths with the gun.

Found at Sporting Classics'   Facebook Page

Wonder how it would do on spiders...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Time Travel

I went back in time for a few minutes yesterday.   Not all that far;  just twenty-five years or so.  Didn't stay long.  The trip was a spur of the moment thing and I wasn't dressed for it.

Back in that day, I hunted with a good bunch of people in a particular swamp.   The swamp got sold and then swapped around between different State agencies a few times.  It was legal to hunt there for several years after all the swaps  but the State didn't let anybody know that.  One agency had posted it and they never bothered to remove the signs when they swapped it to the other agency.   We didn't know it so we started hunting elsewhere.

I owned a third of an acre lot that backed up to the swamp but sold it when the State posted it.  The guy that bought the lot used to send me pictures of the bears, hogs and turkeys that wandered through "my" back yard.

A bunch of the swamp got sold off again a few years ago.  Until yesterday, I thought it was just one more thing that was gone forever.

I had to inspect a piece of property for an Estate and to get there I had to drive down the same road that led to the gate we used the most to get to the swamp.  Turn right just before the gate and follow the hard road to the property that I had to inspect.

I have been back in that area several times over the past couple of decades and seeing the gate always brought back all kinds of nostalgic feelings for the days when I had a key that would unlock the padlock on the gate and let me into the swamp.

Yesterday, the gate was open.

Not only was the gate open, it also had a sign that said it was a State Wildlife Management Area.

"Wildlife Management Area."   That's what I used to do there.  I helped "manage" the wildlife.  I managed to eat some of it too.

After I inspected what I went there to inspect, I went back and pulled in the gate.   A car was coming toward me so it seemed like it was OK to drive back farther.  There are all sorts of walking trails on the edges of the swamp and I figured maybe it was a trail head now.    After a few hundred yards I came to a fenced parking area that was right where we used to park on those frosty mornings back when.

There were fences where there there didn't used to be fences but there were gaps purposely left in them for people to walk through.   I walked through a gap and padded my way across a stretch of wooded upland between a grassy meadow and the swamp.  I hadn't ever hunted much in that direction so pretty soon I turned back for the road that headed where I really wanted to go.

The road looked the same except for a gate.  The gate had a gap so people could walk around it and I did.  Pretty soon it was quiet and shady.  Stagnant water stood in ditches on both sides of the road, just like always.  It was a good thing.

 I remembered getting lost trying to find a stand that was just off the road one cold morning.  Easy to do here.  I still don't know where it was.  I could see the junction where this road met "The Dike Road" that would take me deeper into the swamp.  They called it that because it was the top of a dike that had separated rice fields on a plantation 150 or so years ago.    If I let it, that road would take me miles back to the pump station with its old distillate engine block and concrete foundation; back to the stand of cypress trees where I saw a bear that everybody thought I imagined  because there weren't supposed to be any bears here then;  back to the stump where I left food for a doe so often that she would almost, but not quite, eat out of my hand.  A little farther and I'd be at the spot where I was charged by four armadillos and where I got lost on a night with no moon and had to find my way out in the dark.  Having a gator that you can't see growl at you in the dark isn't so bad when you are carrying a 30-06.  Really.

The Dike Road  was less than a hundred yards ahead.  I could see the light where this road and it met.  I could almost feel the curve of my brother's 1909 Argentine Mauser's floorplate cupped in my hand again.   My dad bought it at the local K-Mart back in the 1970s for $49.00.  It had been "sporterized" by some importer who thought they were worth more with butchered stocks and very sloppily rechambered to 30-06.    A week before he killed himself, my brother gave the Mauser to me.  I hunted with it even though I knew it wasn't particularly accurate tossing .308" bullets down its .311" bore.  That rifle, and the swamp, were what I needed back then. 

Before I got to the Dike Road, I noticed red surveyor's tape at the intersection and remembered that this was a Wildlife Management Area and that I was wearing a white shirt.  Perhaps not the best plan unless one wants to get "managed" and go to the Happy Hunting Ground permanently.  I really just wanted to visit. 

I headed back to the car.  Tried to remember all the names of the guys that hunted there.  I doubt I got half of them right.  The rest are just faces or the rifles they carried.

When I got to my car, I met a bow hunter loading his gear into his truck.   We talked a little and he told me that you had to draw a permit to do it but you could hunt the swamp again.  That Mauser has a nice 8mm barrel and a Scout scope now.    Its too late for this season but I'll put in for a permit next year.   Then I'll get to go back in time again and stay a little longer.

Monday, October 13, 2014


This one's startin' out pretty well

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How 'Bout Getting A Room Next Time?

Police: Passenger was nearly naked when truck slammed into school bus


The wife of a truck driver who slammed into the back of a Bradford County school bus Monday afternoon was naked from the waist down in the truck when the accident occurred, injuring the couple along with the bus driver and seven children.

Two of the children injured in the crash remained hospitalized Tuesday following surgery, said Bradford County Sheriff's Capt. Brad Smith.

“From the waist down she was naked, and partially clothed from the waist up. The man had clothing on,” Smith said. “People assume they were up to no good but we don't know for sure, so make whatever inferences you want to make.

The whole article is at  The Gainesville Sun.

"...traveling in an erratic manner along the southbound highway."    Um.  Ya reckon?

Might could have used this as a Hump Day post all by itself.


Monday, September 29, 2014


Don't mess with me before I have my coffee

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Career Opportunity

Behold: The Power of Beer

Sorry.  I'm just tired of hearing about her having a kid.  I think there's more important stuff going on right now.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Good Old Ruth

Kurt, at  A Train Wreck In Maxwell, recently acquired a 1957 Jeep CJ5 and it has a top just like the one on Ruth.  Ruth is more than twenty-five years newer than his but she's a CJ5 and the basic body tub didn't change much so the 1958 top that I got dropped right on.   The windshield frame wasn't quite the same and I had to make some spacers but it was a really good fit.  I thought I'd post a picture in case he ever stumbles over here.

This is during the lengthy painting and refitting process a couple of years ago; before I repositioned the engine and replaced the fender well headers and Flowmasters with ram's head manifolds and Dynaflow mufflers to cut down on the noise.  (Ruth has one of them there small block Chevy-lay V8s instead of the original 4 cylinder sewin' machine motor).  It helped a little.

The front fenders and hood were painted but the tub and top were still getting sanded after work.  The black stripes are bare metal that I didn't want to leave bare.   She doesn't look this bad anymore.  Like this she looked right at home next to the abandoned cabin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blogroll Addition

Saw this blog, Earl's View,  on Brigid's   blogroll.  

Definitely adding it to my blogroll.     

Monday, September 22, 2014


That's gotta hurt.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Almost Forgot

It be talk like a pirate day.


Class Act

I Tried to post a video of John Morgan campaigning for Charlie Crist directly from You Tube.  It posted for about five seconds and then disappeared.  Here's the link.   Definitely not safe for work due to language.


Bulldogs Ain't Supposed to Cry

Every time I go to Hog Valley, as I did earlier this week, I think of how much it reminds me of what Bell Florida was like when my family lived there some fifty years ago. Whenever I go to Hog Valley, I always think about writing something about what it was like in Bell back then.   It was sleepy little town with aspirations of some day becoming a crossroads community.  It never did because they never had a need for the other road to actually go on across the highway.  Mayberry would be a big city compared to Bell.

My Dad was the Principal of the the school there.

Back then, it was just this old brick building.  Grades One through 12.  It was the only substantial building in Bell.   There's a road that runs along the left side of the picture.  Its just outside the picture and that's where our house was.

The school mascot was a big, muscular bulldog wearing a spiked collar.

I still have a pennant somewhere with the  bulldog in gold on the Royal Purple background.

We had a huge garden.  My Dad bought a plow at the hardware store.  It was the kind that you push yourself.   One of the neighbors saw him out trying to bust sod with it and came back with his tractor.  He plowed that garden up in nothing flat.   It was a fascinating thing for a little kid to watch.  The neighbor wouldn't take anything but a "Thank You" for it.  That's how people were there back then.

Our dog was a city dog that my Parents got when they were in college.  It was small for a dog that lived outdoors in the Country but it didn't seem to know it.  It was always getting whipped in dog fights but it never backed down.  It would charge out of the yard at whatever dog wandered by and get its butt whipped.  When my Dad would hear our dog in a fight, he'd run out the front door with his little Stevens .410, wade in amongst the dogs and fire a shot in the air.   You'd hear a group yelp and dogs would scatter.    Yes, we lived across the street from the school house too.  Not across the highway.  Across a limerock street.  Some of those dog fights were on the school grounds.  Probably can't do that kind of thing on school grounds anymore.  At least not more than once.  Back then it was just the quickest, most portable way to break up a dog fight and nobody thought anything of it. 

We had a maid named Mamie.  She was an awesome, sweet "colored" lady.  Very much a country gal and I liked her.   She was always a little wary of my Mother.  She thought Mother was a yankee because Mother is from North Carolina.  She didn't like or trust yankees one bit.  No amount of convincing ever completely set her at ease.  Yankees is sneaky and they'll tell you they ain't a yankee just so you won't watch 'em like you ought to.

The house has been gone for years.  It was ancient when we lived there.  It probably fell down pretty soon after we moved out.  A fiberglass box with telephone equipment or something has been where the house used to be since at least the 1980s.

I remember a hurricane beating the hell out of the house one night and my Mother waiting for the eye to pass over.  When the wind died down, she took us to the school because they had a new  gymnasium made of concrete blocks and it wasn't surrounded by trees like our house was.  I remember how terrified she was that we'd get caught when the wind picked back up if we didn't hurry.  Of course, the house made it through without a scratch.  The trees were just blowing in the wind and their branches were hitting the roof.  They weren't actually blowing down onto the house.   They built houses to last in the 1880s.  They didn't build them to just barely meet code.  She can be forgiven for her panic.  As I said, she's not from Florida and it was her very first hurricane.

I remember the old metal screens that still worked but were so rusty that they'd crumble if you touched them.  We had an old oil stove that stood in the living room in front of the fireplace and I never could figure out how Santa Clause got into the living room with my battery powered tow truck and locomotive engine with that flue pipe running up the chimney.

I remember the night that the store down the block burned down. We stood in the yard listening to their ammo cooking off and watching the flames through the trees.  Dad was at the store with every other able-bodied male past age 10 trying to do something with no better fire fighting equipment than garden hoses and fire extinguishers commandeered from the school.  The Fire Department, such as it was,  was in Trenton on the other side of the County.

Now "our" street is paved.   The school is huge complex that serves half the County.  There's more than one gas station and more than two stores.  They even have restaurants and the obligatory Family Dollar Store at the edge of town.   Everything changes.

So last night, just before 8:00 PM, I got a text from my brother way up almost all the way into yankee territory asking me what was going on in Bell.   I had no idea and he texted again to say something about a mass shooting.   I looked on line at the Gainesville Florida TV station's website and found a few short lines about a man killing his family and a promise to add details as they became available.  After they didn't even cover the Sheriff's  news conference at 8:00, I started looking elsewhere (can't interrupt the umpteenth rerun of Gray's Anatomy for something as inconsequential as a mass murder).  Seemed like everybody but Channel 20 was on top of it.   Its national news now so I don't need to put in a link.  You've already heard as much as I have.  If not, just Google "Don Spirit in Bell Florida."

This fifty-one year old grandfather had squabble with his daughter.  The house was well known to the Sheriff's Department.  They had been called out there plenty of times before this.   It happened shortly after the grandchildren got home from school.  Maybe one of the kids set him off.  Maybe he planned it ahead of time and waited for them to get home so he could massacre them all at once.  We may never know but he killed his daughter and her six kids, called 911 and then killed himself when the Deputy got there.

The press is already starting to edit and spin.  Its too early right now to tell how fast they will spin it but they can't just report honestly.  On the way to the office this morning, the national news was saying that the Sheriff had asked the people keep everyone involved in their thoughts.   No, he didn't ask that.  He asked that everyone keep them in their prayers.  They played the sound clip of the Sheriff and he didn't say what they said he said.  The Sheriff's Department has the same request for prayers on their Facebook Page.   The national news can't stand the thought of prayer so bad that they can't even use the word in a direct quote.  Maybe they'll start referring to prayer as "The P Word."

They are also saying that he served three years in prison after "accidentally" killing one of his sons in a hunting accident in 2001.   That's true but misleading because its not the whole story.  It makes you think he was sentenced because of the actual killing but that's not the case.  He was sentenced for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  He had a felony drug conviction and wasn't even allowed to pick up a gun to look at it, much less take one hunting.   Of course, we can't let a little detail like him being banned from so much as picking up a firearm get too much air time.  Gotta start letting that detail fade away.

You may have noticed that I put the word "accidentally" in quotation marks.  That's because the "accident" where he killed his son involved him showing his son that there was rust on the muzzle of his rifle. The rifle "went off" and the bullet hit the kid in the head.  That may not be first degree murder but I won't call that an accident.   How many of the Four Rules did he violate and why?   In my considered opinion, this guy was an asshole from the get-go. 

This morning I did hear that the family wasn't originally from Bell.  They had lived there for several years but originally came from someplace else in Florida.  Maybe I can still remember Bell the way it was since he didn't really belong there among the good people that I knew.  Maybe I shouldn't even try to remember.  Maybe this is the way society is "progressing."   Everything changes.  Maybe even in places like Bell. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hump Day - Rump Day: The Bear Rump

If a video of a completely bear rump will get you in trouble at work, proceed at your own risk.

I did say B E A R.

I went to Hog Valley this morning.  That's about as exciting as it gets up there until Official Deer Season opens.  

Tony Stewart Case Going to Grand Jury

I worked in the pits at a dirt track a time or two (or three or ...)  during high school so I'm not completely ignorant about dirt tracks.  I saw the video.   I really don't see how its Tony Stewart's fault.   I hope this is one of those cases where they go to the Grand Jury and say "we really don't think the guy is guilty but we want you to say it, not us"  and not a Prosecutor using this as a chance to make a name for himself. 


And no, I'm not particularly a fan of Tony.   I don't dislike him.   I just don't really care enough about NASCAR to be a fan of anybody.  I only dislike Danica because of all the hype they shoved down our throats about how great she was and how the other drivers were learning all kinds of stuff from her ("Look, she's taught the other drivers to let go of the wheel before they hit the wall head first)"  and I dislike Jimmy because The Lovely Bride is a Jeff Gordon fan and  it makes things easier at home if I hate Jimmy.

They Start Out Young

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014