Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting back into an old hobby.

A while ago, I saw a video on YouTube posted by Dave Canterbury, who is one of the "Dual Survival" guys on the Discovery Channel. He posts videos on YouTube for his Pathfinder Wilderness Survival School, and being a subscriber, I get an email whenever a new video goes up.

This particular video got me thinking about the old fiberglass bow I had back in the early 1970s, back when my major past time was running through the Missouri woods like an Indian. My buddies and I all had bows and arrows, and we shot holes in all the local trees. In time I got to be a pretty good shot, able to hit even the skinny little saplings from a good distance. But then we moved on base, and eventually away from Missouri, and somehow, my archery stuff didn't make it on the truck. I guess the folks thought it was time that I moved on to other pastimes, like football and basketball. Well, that stuff never took, and I didn't touch a bow again for about ten years.

When I did get back into archery, it was with a heavy compound bow and aluminum arrows. A buddy of mine from work got himself a bow and brought it out to work to show me. Before long I'd gone out to Trophy Archery on the East side of Ft. Worth and bought myself the whole rig: compound bow with a fancy sight system, shooting glove, armguard, and a dozen heavy, 35" Easton aluminum arrows with field points.

I'd go out to Trophy and shoot at their range a few times a week. In time I took the sights off the bow and got back into instinctive shooting. Then I tuned the bow up to it's maximum power, 60 pounds, and had a good, tight group. Of course, that means I was using up a few arrows now and then, hitting the nocks and breaking them, but I never managed to get an arrow to fly down the tube of another. They had a bunch of those "Robin Hood" shots on display above the door to the range, giving us something to, er a, shoot for.

Trophy Archery was a cool store, catering not only to archery, but also to Mountain Man style crafts. Pretty soon I was buying a tanned deer hide and beads, decorating my bow and learning to make all kinds of cool stuff. I slowly drifted away from shooting the heavy compound bow and actually got into carving my own stuff, trying to figure out how the Indians did it.

Then I found an amazing book at the local library while I was working on my Masters Thesis. Mystic Warriors of the Plains, by Thomas Mails. I lost myself in that book for a long time, absorbing everything I could. I got pretty good at making bows and arrows, and beaded quivers, but in time I got more busy with grad school, and then I started teaching on the ships. Of course, you can't take all that stuff with you on the cruise, so I drifted away from the hobby again.

Anyway, having watched Canterbury's video, I started thinking about how much fun shooting used to be. I started looking on the web to see if I could find a bow like the one he found at that Gun Show. Before long, through the wonders of eBay, a new, "vintage" Ben Pearson Fiberglass recurve bow, #3350, was being delivered to the house. It's not the same one he has in the video, but it's close enough. At 30 pounds of pull, it's WAY better than the one I had when I was a kid. Powerful enough to have fun with, with enough draw length to allow me to pull it all the way back to my cheek before I let fly.

At the same time, surfing more archery stuff on eBay, I found a cool old compound bow like one that I've always wanted. Back in those Trophy Archery days, I saw an ad for something called an Oneida Eagle. Those recurve ends just blew me away. Then someone showed up at the range with one and I got to see it in action. I wanted one BAD, but they were just too expensive. They still are. A new one can run you almost $800! But the used one on eBay was going for $50! So I bid on it. I ended up bidding on three of them before I was able to get the one I wanted for the price I was willing to pay.

Meanwhile, surfing other archery videos on YouTube, I ran across this guy and watched a few of his videos. They're delightful. What a marksman he is, and what a relaxed, easy going style of camping and shooting. He not only shoots store-bought stuff, but he makes his own. I love the hell out of that bow he's using. How cool would it be to be able to walk out the back door into the woods and spend a weekend camping and shooting? I think I'd get arrested if I tried that around here, or shot for trespassing.

So, as you might guess, I've slid WAY past the tipping point on this stuff, jumping with both feet back into the hobby I'd drifted away from 15 or 20 years ago. The first thing I did was to cut some old buzzard feathers I've had laying around (for about 15 or 20 years) and refletch an old arrow. You can see it above. It was made to resemble a Plains Indian arrow from the 1800s, to go along with that bow you can see to the right, the feathered end peeking out of it's case. The cat got the original feathers years ago, and it's been sitting naked on my fireplace hearth since then. It was fun to cut the new feathers and get them set on the shaft. My next chore is to find that little box of deer sinew I have around here somewhere and attach the new feathers permanently.

In time I'll be making my own bows and arrows again. But for now, the fiberglass bow will do, and I'm making some arrows with ceder and bamboo shafts (I just finished my first bamboo arrow), with both home made and conventional fletching. And the new Screaming Eagle is a hoot. Can't wait to find a range where I can shoot it.

Anyway, that's enough about that.  I'll post again soon. Feels good getting back into this too. Cheers.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pretty cool.

I read this this morning over at Letters of Note. I was thinking as I read it, "He's gonna tell his mother that he Gay or something." Nope, he's just driven to be a composer. "I was meant to be a composer, and will be I'm sure." No sports. Pretty cool to know for sure what you're destined to be. And of course, he turned out to be a great one.

Pretty good for a 26 year old. Some of you may be thinking that you remember that music from something?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Went to a gun show in Dallas last Sunday.

I arrived at my buddy Dave's place up in Gatesville around 8AM and was greeted at the car by his pooch, Red. She's an awesome mutt. You've seen her in some of the pictures from our shoots. 

As we drove off towards Dallas she trotted along Dave's gravel drive, only stopping to head over towards his mothers place in the end.

Once we got up towards big "D" we stopped in Duncanville so Dave could show one of his old guns to a friend of mine. Jim Donovan recently published a book about the Texas Revolution and the Alamo, and he'd asked if Dave could show him a real "Brown Bess" musket.  

This one was an "India Pattern" from around 1805. The Mexican forces in Texas used their own version of the Brown Bess  that was very similar to this one. I've told Jim that he needs to come down to Gatesville some time, join us in one of our shooting outings and check out Dave's full collection. It'll blow his mind.

When we got to the show I left Dave off to head into the show, parked under the parking garage and went off to give blood. The Carter blood folks always have a bus out in front of the hall and I usually try to donate when I can.

 Apparently my blood, which is O+ , lacks a contaminant that many people carry, making my blood very good for prematurely hatched squealers and HIV patients. So, I donate a lot. makes me feel good, like when I vote. My civic duty, I suppose. Anyway, I got into the gun show free (they charge $10 to get into this one nowadays!) with a new T-shirt and a bandage on my arm.

It was a good show. I saw a few people I knew, including Randy Kline, the gunsmith who built several of my coolest Kalashnikovs. I also ran into a real hero. 

Last time I came to this show I bought an autobiography from an old gentleman named R.V. Burgin. His book, Islands of the Damned, is the story of Mr. Burgin's youth in the United States Marines and his experiences in the Pacific War, particularly the savage fighting on the island of Peleliu. His story was used and he was portrayed in the recent HBO series The Pacific. 

I shook Mr. Burgin's hand again and told him that I'd enjoyed his book tremendously and was honored to see him again. Considering his age, it was a surprise and a great pleasure to see him still up and around, still going strong. God bless him.

One chore I wanted to accomplish at this show was getting a few pocket knives sharpened. There's a guy there with the right equipment who'll put such an edge on my little peanut, I could use to do surgery. 

Yea, I know. I should sharpen my own gear. I can, and do on occasion. But it's just too handy to have this guy give a few of my blades a professional edge for a few bucks.

After the time spent at the sharpener, I decided to go have another look at something I'd seen earlier on the other side of the hall. A couple of well dressed old gentlemen were sitting at a table with several interesting implements, including a nice replica of a Viking sword. 

The sword was cool enough, but the item sitting on the top of the pile grabbed my imagination like nothing has in a while. I recognized it right off - a replica of a Frankish throwing axe from about 2000 years ago.

 It's an elegant beast, with an easily recognizable head. I couldn't resist, and immediately decided to take it to the sharpenin' dude and see what he could do. You should have seen his eyes light up when I showed it to him. The picture above was taken as he went to work. He had to change the belts and shift things around a bit, and it helped him when I took the handle out of the head. Purdy, ain't it. No, I haven't tried to trow it yet. I'll tell you how it goes when I do.

Oh, and those knives above are the ones I had the dude sharpen.  That little peanut is the blade I carry every day. The other is one that I carry on occasion, just for jollies. It's design was inspired by the Type 3 bayonets they use with modern Kalashnikovs. Here you go.

After the show, Jim Donovan joined Dave and I for a late lunch at Sal's Pizzaria, on Wycliff, just up from the gun show. The Strombolis at Sal's are to die for. Huge friggin' things, filled with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and meat sauce. Jim brought a box of books he had sitting aside for me, and Dave and I both bought copies of his Alamo book, and he signed them for us. It was a great time.

After that, it was a long drive back to Gatesville to drop Dave off, and then the drive back to Killeen. I got home in time to watch the Packers fiddle around and get hozed by the Seahawmks, refs, whatever. My little padna, in her green Clay Matthews jersey and yellow foam rubber cheese hat, was cussin' a blue streak. I think I learned most of the good cuss words I know growing up, listening to my mother cuss at the TV while we watched the Cowboys. "Get that son-of-a-bitch!" Denise has picked up that baton and run with it. Big time.

Anyway, it was a good, full day. Hope you enjoyed the report. Feels like old times. I'll have to try to do this more regularly. Cheers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My buddy Mushy just sent me some shots from my last visit to Mayberry...

Er, Harriman, Tennessee. He's just gotten his computer up and running again and is busy Photoshopping a thousand or so pictures. Anyway, one in this batch stood out to me, because I remembered how much I loved my version of the shot. Here's his picture,

... showing me taking a shot of his lovely wife Judy as she takes her Brochette shrimp off the skewer. I'd cooked dinner for them that night, and I wanted to make sure I recorded their reactions. I know, you're thinkin' "Jesus, put down the camera and EAT!" Aaaaaa, but you don't know us if you're thinkin' that. Well, Judy might have been thinkin' that, but she's used to it. Anyway, if I hadn't been bein' such a goofball, I never would have gotten this shot.

Whis was one of my very best pictures from the trip. Just look at the mischief in those eyes.

I'll eventually post some more shots. Until then, here's a taste...

My buddy Bruno in Missouri...

My Brochette Shrimp...

The view from the tree house tower...

Mushy in love (and me too)...

The Aviation Museum...

And the spread outside Harriman. What an awesome place. Awesome weather, and of course, awesome people. I think it was maybe the best trip yet. They always show me a wonderful time. Cheers.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Critter post.

Dude, it's been a long time since I last posted here. The whole process has changed. I'll have to do it more often, to get used to it again. Anyway...

The little wiggler you see here scurried out from under a set of shelves in a classroom where I was helping out the other day. The women in the room started to panic as I leaned down to pick the little dude up. How can anyone be afraid of a little gecko? For Christ's sake.

I walked the little scudder out the back door and left him on the stuccoed outer wall of the school. I assume he lives there still, searching out little bugs to eat. Beautiful, fascinating, and so gentle to hold. And a nice shot from my phone. Nice detail (click to enlarge).

Anyway, I'm off. Have a nice Labor Day holiday, and think of old Neil when you look up at that beautiful full moon this weekend. Cheers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Back in the 1960s, when Yuri Andropov was still the head of the KGB, before he succeeded Leonid Brezhnev in 1982 at the top of the pile in the old Soviet Union, he orchestrated a campaign to use mental hospitals to "treat" political dissidents.

People who protested the arrest of a writer or poet, or who wanted to try to get the Soviet government to live up to the tenets of the Helsinki Accords on Human Rights were rounded up, diagnosed with "sluggish schizophrenia" and shipped off to a mental hospital without trial.

I read a great book when I was in school, written by a guy named Vladimir Bukovsky, who'd been subjected to that treatment for about a decade in the 1960s and early '70s. After he was deported from the USSR in the late 1970s he wrote To Build a Castle about his experiences in the psychiatric gulag. It's an amazing story.

Anyway, you're probably wondering what the hell brought this up. Well, I just went through the news on my computer and read a few stories that shook this little memory out of the fog and dropped it back in my lap.

Seems that some silly asshat scientist has decided that all of those folks who doubt the connection between Global Warming, climate change and humans are suffering from a "sociological disorder".

Professor Kari Norgaard, who is currently appearing at the ‘Planet Under Pressure’ conference in London, has presented a paper in which she argues that “cultural resistance” to accepting the premise that humans are responsible for climate change “must be recognized and treated” as an aberrant sociological behavior.

Then I read another unrelated story claiming that "a research team led by University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman argues that conservatism — which the researchers identify as “an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo” (really?) — may be our default ideology. If we don’t have the time or energy to give a matter sufficient thought, we tend to accept the conservative argument."

So, we conservatives just don't think things out quite as well, and jump on the conservative crutch? I would have bet good money that the opposite was true. Read the article here. It's rich.

So, does that mean that lots of hard working families, maybe holding down two or three jobs, who manage to raise their kids correctly and save their money are socially or politically conservative because they just are too tired to think things through enough to be able to see the wisdom in high taxes and the unrelenting expansion of the Nanny/Welfare State?

Aaaah, OK. Yea, that makes perfect sense. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that there's some really bat-shit crazy right wingers out there. I mean, I know a few. Not naming names.

Our political discourse is pretty sour nowadays. Folks are so committed to their beliefs that they just don't want to have to listen to one another, and that's not good. But I'm amazed when I see people on the Left attempting to attribute skeptical, "inconsistent" or conservative views as some sort of aberrant behavior, as if the only really sane, sensible thought process is a liberal one. What balls they have! And they get government grants and research funding to try to substantiate that twisted shit? Yea, that's why I love to pay my taxes. How about you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Has Sprung.

With the drouth and heat we endured last summer, I wasn't expecting to see too many Bluebonnets this year. But we had a fairly mild, wet winter, and after this last blast of rain, something like 6 inches in 12 hours, the flowers have begun to pop up in the fields and along the roads.

Lupinus texensis, or the Texas Bluebonnet, is our national flower (Yes, we are a nation unto our self. Ask anyone, they'll tell ya). We all love the spring, sadly short it may well be, because we have all these wonderful colors to look forward to. And, as well all know, those of us who live in Texas, the spring doesn't just bring out the Bluebonnets. You also see fields of red poppies, Indian Paintbrush, and pink or yellow buttercups.

And yes, inevitably, unavoidably...

Big, fat-assed women, draggin' their kids into the fields to tromp all over the flowers and get that special picture to send to all their fat-assed, mouth breather relatives. Ahhhhh, springtime!

"Damn it, smile! I needs to go to KFC." I hope she don't fall on the kid. I'm just sayin'... Cheers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Denise and I took my Momma out to eat Friday night, as usual.

Last week, Denise was in Kentucky visiting her kids. Mom and I went to the Olive Garden and had a wonderful meal. We always take turns with the check. Whoever has to pay gets to pick the venue. This last week it was Denise's turn, and she picked the Cotton Patch in Temple Mall.

We started out with some bread rolls, and a half order of their fried mushrooms... "Our famous deep-fried mushrooms served with honey mustard dressing just for dipping." I could kill a full order of those juicy babies all by my lonesome, but I always feel better, less bloated in the end if I don't indulge. I also save the honey mustard sauce that comes with the shrooms. EVERYTHING tastes better with honey mustard sauce.

For her dinner, Momma picked the "Shiner" Fish and Chips Basket... "Flaky, tender white fish filets hand-dipped in our secret Shiner Bock beer-batter recipe."

I got to sample some of the fish (she never can finish one of these meals), and it was pretty good.

I chose the Fried Shrimp Basket... "8 traditional-style shrimp deep-fried. Served with (two) hushpuppies." You can see that I'd already killed off three shrimp and one hushpuppy by the time I thought about taking any pictures. I guess I'm out of practice.

Denise chose the Patty Melt... "Hamburger patty, Swiss cheese, grilled onions on rye bread." I've had that several times myself, and know it's a great tasting treat.

Thing is, I don't need to order one, any more than I need to order the fish and chips. I know from past experience that I'll get to finish at least half of Mothers meal, and sometimes as much of Denise's. Oh, they take stuff home from time to time, but not this last Friday night. I got to kill off at least half of Mom's fish, and the last bite of Denise's.

Yep, I'm an eating machine.

After the meal we drove mom back to her house for a long visit and a little after-dinner tipple. On the way, we stopped to check out the Bluebonnets that have been popping up along the roads of our fair state since the last big rain. 

The flowers are looking wonderful this year (more about that later). After spending a few hours at mom's place watching TV, Denise drove us home, where we relaxed, beginning the weekends routine. Oh, there'll be laundry and yard work to do, but I'll avoid it all as long as I can.

I finished my second University of Phoenix class last Thursday night, and got the grades posted this morning. Here's hoping that my "trial period" ends and I start getting assigned more classes on a more regular schedule. Here's hopin'. 

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'll try to post stuff here more often than I have (like, more than once a year). Hope everything is going well where you are. Cheers. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All by my lonesome...

and tryin' to get over a cold. Denise flew up to Kentucky at the butt crack of dawn Thursday morning, leavin' me to my own devices. My cold really hit me Friday afternoon while I was at work, so I went to the store and got some high power pills (the kind they keep behind the pharmacy counter and make you sign for... friggin meth-head assholes makin' life harder for everyone). I called off my normal Friday night dinner with mom, went home and hit the sack.

I was supposed to go up to Gatesville and shoot guns with the fellas Sunday, but some heavy rains blew through over the last few days and put and end to that. Too muddy to enjoy the woods, so maybe we'll do it next weekend.

I'm basically stain' in. I've been watching TV, old movies and stuff, between naps on the couch and long intervals at the computer, surfin' YouTube for cool movies and documentaries that I can save and watch later. You like Tom and Jerry? Well check this out.

You like classic old sword and sandal epics? Dig this. I've always loved that one. You can find just about anything on there, but it's not always in English. I'd love to find an English language version of this, but subtitles would do. No luck though, but it's too cool to pass up. Translates as Brest Fortress.

It's a recent Russian movie about a battle that raged in the summer of 1941. pretty cool, with some amazing special effects. Fast forward to 1:44.00 and start watching at the point where the Soviet defenders are about to be forced to surrender after a week or more of fighting. The stuff that happens from then on needs no translation.

You like old Samurai flicks? I've recently become a HUGE fan of a series of movies and TV shows from the 1960s and '70s about a blind samurai named Zatoichi. Check him out.

I think I've eaten just about everything that was loose in the house over the last few days. You know, "feed a cold, starve a fever." Denise had a box of Nilla Wafers on the shelf for months. Was plannin' to make banana pudding or somethin'. Well, I guess I'll have to get her another box.

Tonight, I'm feelin' much better, so I decided to put some pork ribs in the oven. They've been in the fridge for a while, so they needed cookin'.

I put them on a pan and sprinkled some seasoning on them, and then squirted some honey on them and spread it around. Then I turned them over and spread some Gen. Tso's sauce over the other side.

I bundled it all up in foil and shoved it in the oven at 300 degrees for about two and a half hours. Then I went back to surfin'. When the buzzer went off I put a pot on the stove and started heating up my corn. I've found this new brand of cream corn that I really love.

Usually cream corn is made from the busted up scraps, and I'm not fond of it. But these folks make it from whole kernel corn, and it's really good. Of course, it's even better once I toss in some butter, pepper and honey.

When the time came to take the ribs out of the oven, I grabbed the camera and put it on movie mode, It's frustrating as hell to try to open a super hot foil wrapper with one hand while you try to get good video with the other. Feel me?

Here's some before and after teasing. BEFORE...

And after.

Yep, it was mighty good. And the corn was good too.

So now I'm fellin' better, watching Star Trek on the telly and thinkin' about getting out of the house. Maybe a surgical strike to the grocery store? You know, to replenish the stores.

Tomorrow I plan to drive over to Temple and take mom out to eat and to go shopping, so maybe I'll just wait till then. Two birds with one stone, as it were.

So now that you're sufficiently hungry and slobbery, I'll be off. Denise is having a wonderful time in Kentucky, goin' to wedding shops with her daughter and picking out dresses (she and her fella are gonna tie the knot in October). She'll be flying home to me about this time tomorrow night. It's empty around here without her bein' around.

So, I'm off. Try not to hurt yourselves lookin' at those pictures. Cheers.