Thursday, October 19, 2006


I had the picture of the day-and-a-half flintlock pistol developed that I wrote about last week. I cut it out Thrusday, painted it Friday morning and my grand daughter dressed as a pirate wore it in her belt in the parade Saturday morning. It's rough but most of the shaping was done with an angle grinder after using a scroll saw for the basic outline.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gabbin' Gorbie

"Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told a group in Texas that the proposed 700-mile U.S.-Mexico border fence reminds him of the Berlin Wall."

So Gorbie must think we're trying to fence in America's best and brightest if it reminds him of the Berlin Wall. Dear Mr. Former sombody, this fence is for the oposite purpose. We're trying to fence OUT undesirables, not fence in desirables. Sit down and shut up.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Where we live

Lake Eerie was classified a dead lake years ago but today there is commercial fishing.

In 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland Ohio caught fire it was so polluted. That wasn't the only time it burned nor the only river to do so. Many rivers in several states had been so polluted they caught fire and burned in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Have you heard of any such thing in the U.S. in the last 30 years? No, industry has stopped dumping raw waste into our lakes, rivers and streams.

Are we denuding our country of forests? The lumber and paper industries just like any farmer, know they cannot harvest if they do not plant. They have planted more trees than they have harvested for a century. Today there is more than twice the amount of forest land in this country as there was at the end of World War II.

When I started working in Indianapolis in the fifties we kidded about being able to tell where you were in the city by the smell. We would leave home 35 miles west of the city to a clear sunny day. By the time we were in the edge of Indianapolis you could not see the sun for the dome of polluted air covering it. There were huge smoke stacks belching thick plumes, many places still heated with coal, raw sewage was dumped into White River. You didn't swim or fish in the river because it was so dirty. Today the skies over Indianapolis are clear, there are parks on White River, it's a beautiful city.

And you know what? Most of this has been done by private industry, municipalities and individuals. Oh sure, government passes standards, regulations, sets up huge and expensive bureaucracies to enforce it, but often their regulations are behind the progress made by the private sector. Why did Detroit start making better and cleaner automobiles? Because they were getting stomped by superior imports and people weren't buying American cars. It was compete or die and they chose to clean up their act. The federal regulations often hampered rather than help this process along. Yes, there have been times when regulations have forced an issue much like the pollution standards that went into effect for 1973. All that did was require Detroit to slap together some of the most miserably operating cars to ever come out. I had a '73 Chevy Caprice Classic station wagon with a 454 cu engine that was so choked down I think I would have had more power if I'd replaced it with a VW engine.

So what are the environmentalist screaming about today? It seems to me most of the "causes" they're involving themselves in today are invented. When we lived in Vegas the environwackos started screaming about how the Desert Tortoise was an endangered species and all the building there was destroying them and their habitats. A law was passed based on this information that required a builder to walk all the land before starting a sub division. If there was a habitat (hole under a rock) they couldn't build there, and if they found a tortoise they were to turn it into a shelter set up for that purpose. Well, it seems there were many thousands more Desert Tortoise in the valley than they'd said there were and soon the shelter was so overrun by Desert Tortoise they had to start "euthanizing" them. I think they would have been better off taking their chances with the developers, don't you?

The fraud about the Spotted Owl needing old growth forest for nesting (they found hundreds nesting in forest under 20 years of age). The fraud about the endangered brown trout in the Jarbridge creek (they'd been raised in farms and introduced to that creek as a game fish a few years earlier). The fraud about Canadian Lynx in the north central U.S. (It was proven by DNA analysis the hairs were planted in the wild, taken from two Canadian Lynx being held in captivity).

Are we destroying the environment or restoring it? It appears to me there has been a huge change in the direction of restoration in the last fifty years. Game animals like deer, turkey, elk, antelope, bison, ducks, geese, trout and such are more plentiful today than they were over a hundred years ago. Most of that is not because of the loud mouths of do nothing environmentalists but by the monies from hunting, fishing and trapping licenses being used to create habitat, breeding programs, seeding and controlling the populations.

I like the differences I've seen in the last fifty years, but it wasn't accomplished by most of the lies, deceits, distortions and loud mouth, headline grabbing fabrications of many so called environmentalists. It was accomplished by the people, cities, states and the federal government, and at times in cooperation with honest environmentalists working with them.

Yes, there are species that have become extinct, but history tells us that is an ongoing process since the first life crawled up out of the mud (seen any dinosaurs lately?). I don't expect the feeble efforts of man can stop that process regardless of how loudly environwackos scream.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Let's not camp out

We had talked with our Indiana daughter and her significant other about meeting at a state park in southern Indiana to camp out a couple of nights. Because of one thing or another the date kept getting pushed back until this week-end became the next available time slot (mid October). They've been having some nights dip into the freezing levels though, not really conducive to a fun camp-out, and so they're coming down this week-end to spend Friday and Saturday night with us instead. Lot's of talking time over coffee.

Then last night the Indiana son called to say they were coming down Saturday night and will be in around 3 Sunday morning. They'll probably stay over until Monday. Sunday we'll all get together with the son and daughter that live here close and we'll be with all four of our children once again. Twice in 20 years and now twice in two months because we all live in closer proximity these days. What a blessing that is.

One of the delights of life has been watching them from birth to now. All their wins and losses, marriages, divorces, stumbling and getting back up again. Four distinctly different people all with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, with their individual histories separate from my wife and I since they became adults. I think one of the hardest things was switching over from parent that guides and directs growing children, to butting out as they became adults. Giving advice only when asked but being their when someone needs an arm to lean on. In spite of all the mistakes we made as they were growing up, we did succeed in one way. They all love each other, and they all love us.

It'll be a great week-end

Monday, October 09, 2006

Is this gunsmithing?

Did you ever use a four and a half inch angle grinder? Twenty thousand RPM and a serious tool.

We have this Pumpkin Festival each fall, car show, singers, food booths, a parade, you know the drill. My sixteen year old grand-daughter decided she wanted to dress like the pirate Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. She'd spent a couple of weeks gathering the various pieces of pirate gear - boots, sash, belts, head gear, ballooned sleeve blouse, long vest with brass buttons and a sword. She couldn't find a flintlock pistol however and didn't know what she was going to do.

Grandpa and his trusty angle grinder to the rescue. The parade was Saturday and I found out Thursday morning we needed a flintlock. We found a picture on the Internet, printed it out and I pointed it up to about 12 inches long as I drew it onto some one and a half inch thick board. I used the scroll saw to cut out the basic shape then did almost all the carving with a sander disk in the angle grinder. That little machine will do a lot of woodwork in a very short time but it's a rough finish. There wasn't much time to do a good final sanding though because I had to get it painted so it would dry by Saturday morning.

The hammer and striker plates I cut from quarter inch plywood so it wouldn't be as apt to break off, and formed the trigger and trigger guard from a piece of metal. A little brown paint, a little silver paint and she was tickled to death with it.

That's enough reward.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Electric Sports Car

A 100% all electric sports car from Tesla Motors (love that name). 250 miles on a charge, zero to sixty in four seconds. Currently priced about a hundred thousand dollars, but it looks to me like they're getting closer to a decent electric with more performance and greater distance on a charge.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Us Antiques

In '98 our youngest daughter bought this computer for us. Just had it delivered one day without even hinting she was doing it. It's still up and running eight years later, and in computers today it would have to be considered an antique. Officially Windows 98 was released on June 25, 1998 but the disk that came with this machine says it was originated 5-11-98. It contains Internet Explorer and Outlook Express 4.0 or 4.1, can't remember which.

This unit came with 32 MB memory and a 3 GB hard drive (about average for that time). I increased the memory to 128 (actually says 132 when it's loading), added a second, 8 GB hard drive for back up, put in an Ethernet card to get on DSL, put in a CD burner and a few other things but I'm still running Win 98 and am on my fourth reformat. Always before I could upgrade the operating system by downloading from Microsoft after I'd reformatted, but Microsoft has discontinued upgrades for 98.

I was able to dig OE and IE six point something out to upgrade after the last reformat, but my new printer requires a USB connection which I ain't got none of. (the old printer committed suicide by trying to print an animation of a firing gun and accidentally shot itself through the memory board).

I went looking for a USB card yesterday and changed my mind, buying a new computer instead. I think the new one is probably about average for today's machines with an 80 GB hard drive and 512 MB of memory but it's a pretty good increase over what I have. It does have Windows XP (does that stand for X-Perimental), so I'm going to have to spend some time exploring that. If I don't like XP I may try loading Ubuntu into this old machine and see how that operating system works. I have a disk for that and have heard some good things on it, but I'd like to talk with someone familiar with both to see what the pros and cons are on them before I bother.

Now I start with trying to transfer all the stuff from this one to the new one. I might just load it all onto the D drive in this one, pull that and connect it into the new computer, or save it all to a disk. One other thing I'll have to do. Over the years we've saved files on the 1.44 MB floppy disks, and computers today don't come with a floppy drive. I'll probably spend some time downloading those to a file on this unit, then burn all that to a disk before taking this unit down.

That's all I need, another project.