Monday, March 27, 2006

George, RIP

Saturday started out as a beautiful day, I woke up in plenty of time to go to the cowboy action shoot. Halfway there I realized that I had forgot to take my morning pills but then I often don't take those until afternoon, anyway. I even had time to eat a little something on the way to the shoot, two of Mickey D's sausage egg and cheese biscuits. More fat than I'm supposed to have but I get more exercise at a shoot than anywhere else.

I shot another personal best match, the poor old Range Officer is still having to drag an eight day grandfather clock from stage to stage to keep my time but my accuracy is improving. I just wonder how I would have done had I remembered to take my "shakey pills", the two capsules I take to control the tremors. Those are morning meds since I don't much care if my hands shake in my sleep.

I actually won a certificate for finishing second in my class, I guess I would be real proud if there had been more shooters in my class, a third one would have been nice. I got back to town and called home, Linda Lou told me about the shooting and yelling from down the street and said that George was missing. I got home and went looking, I found him in a nearby field, unable to rise, unable to move his feet. He was still breathing, though.

I rushed back home and cleared the crap out of the back of the car and got a sheet, I rolled him on to the sheet and got him in the back of the van, I didn't quite rupture myself but it was close. While I was doing that, Linda had called our Vet, unfortunately it was too late on a Saturday and I had to take him some forty+ miles to the emergency Vet. I made that run at well over the speed limit with my emergency flashers on the whole way, not that they do much good. Maybe one driver out of ten knows to pull out of the way for somebody with the flashers going.

We got George inside and they hit him up with a shot for the pain while I filled out the paperwork, they then looked him over and cleaned him up a little. Because of George's size he needed multiple X-rays, he is too big for just one to cover his whole spinal column. The Vet, before the X-rays had to tell me that George either had a broken spine or just a severe shock to his spine. It would take X-rays at a hundred bucks a pop to find out. While everyone, including me, knew that the odds were against him, I ordered the X-rays. Then I waited. Eventually the Vet came out with the X-rays, they were a death sentence. We could see the displacement in his spine, along with the bunch of birdshot.

The Vet told me about the eight thousand dollar surgery that had a one in a thousand chance of letting George walk again. I opted for the shot.

They put George in a cardboard coffin and I brought him home. By then it was well past dark so I just left him in the car until morning. I got up early and started digging his grave. Between my back and that stroke it took me until late afternoon to dig a German Shepherd sized grave. Dig it I did, with a certain amount of rude comments from the boss about why I didn't spend the fifty dollars to have him cremated. The bottom line, though was that it would have cost more than double that to have him cremated alone and for us to get the ashes back.

I didn't want George to be cremated with a bunch of other critters and then thrown in the trash. Nobody cared about him when he was a puppy. He had about six months or so with me and then he had to lay in that field for five or six hours, with his mouth full of dirt before I found him. Most of his life he had no human contact. I did get to scratch his ears as he died and I buried him in the spot where he liked to lay in the sun. He has his favorite plush chew toy with him. My heart is a cinder.

For some reason my service is so slow today that I cannot upload any pictures of George. There are a few good ones in the archive, October and November and earlier.

Before anyone asks, yes, I know who did this. It is a long story, the person has a plausible explanation, it does not matter that it would be a lie, I'm stuck with not being allowed to fill him with birdshot, break his spine and leave him laying in mud. Damned Democrats.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


My Cardiac Doc had me busy yesterday, with an MRI and a stress test. Stress was easy as the whole thing was in Dallas, starting in the morning. Which means that I had to GET to Dallas, in the morning. With no coffee allowed. Details like no coffee allowed explains why hospitals don't allow guns.

I had my work done at Medical City, in north Dallas, there are a lot of places closer, none better. We started with the MRI, my Doc wanted a look at the clot in my aorta. He has me on this rat poison stuff, Coumadin, that is a fancy name for Warfarin. In large doses it makes a rat, or a person, bleed to death with no holes in him. The dose I take is not that strong, the hope is that the clot dissolve without the Docs having to go in with a vacuum cleaner and wire brushes or whatever they use. I am rooting for the rat poison, the carotid artery that they opened up in the hooraw after that stroke is still sore.

The MRI was the standard thing, they put me in this very skinny "bed" and slid me in to this big white sewer pipe and then had a crew of blacksmiths beat on the outside of it with humongous hammers and sound giant buzzers, somehow this gives a picture of my innards. This is the fourth or fifth time I've had that done, every other time has been my head and neck, though. The breathing instructions were different, otherwise I found no other difference. Oh, and this time, instead of earplugs they gave me headphones. The woman running the test got mad when I asked her to change the radio station, for some odd reason. It's weird, we've been going to Med City for years, this is only the second unpleasant experience I've ever had with the people there. The other one was back in the early '90s when some Intern couldn't find a vein on Linda Lou, I was looking around for a stick. I know interns have to learn, give me a Nurse who knows how to make a stick, anyhow. Let the Interns learn on each other.

The it was time for the stress test, as if I wasn't already stressed enough, just from driving into Dallas. With no coffee. In the morning. Here they put me on another skinny bed and shot me full of some kind of radioactive juice. Later that night I turned off the light in the bathroom, my pee did not glow in the dark, that was disappointing. Then they slid me in to this other kind of camera that rotated around shooting pics of my innards from a hundred different angles one was done with no giant blacksmiths with humongous hammers and buzzers.

Then we went to the treadmill and I had to run like a gazelle, trying to get my heart rate to 137. Unfortunately my sciatica kicked in and we could only get my heart rate to 105 before my left leg gave out. So, instead, we had to do a chemical stress test, they injected two giant batches of some kind of chemical in, no one told me what they were. They did give me all kinds of warnings about what the meds might do, all they did to me was make the inside of my arm cold. Well, they did something to the way the EKG worked but I know nothing about that, it's just a bunch of squiggley lines to me. The not smoking was a big deal, I was not particularly winded.

After the treadmill I was supposed to have a repeat of the series of pictures in the rotating camera, since we couldn't do the treadmill well enough I had to go eat and wait an hour. There is some kind of medical reason, though, that I was told to eat something with a lot of fat. It was to help absorb the stuff they shot in to me. So I had fried chicken, french fries and two, count them, two donuts, plus my morning coffee, six hours or so late. I am going to have to ponder on whether being allowed to eat fat is worth the delay in coffee. Ahh, the copay on a fake heart attack would probably make it not worthwhile just for donuts and fries.

Anyway, that was it, then into my car and start the drive home. I made a stop at Wally World and then, home. Speaking of Wally World, they are opening a new Wal Mart in Quinlen, the nearest town. Only ten miles to do the shopping, instead of twenty-five. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Have We Found The Secret.?

Blogdaddy Harvey has been investigationg why my links won't work and claims to have found the secret.
A post or so back I was discussing my new rear sight on my Navy Arms '92 Winchester clone. If the link works you should see an article for the Marble's Tang Sight. If this link works it will give us a link to an article about the sight.

Hurray! It works. Oddly, I have to click on the link widget, the thing Harvey calls Kermit's head because it look's kinda like Kermit the Frog's head if one has had enough vodka, go and type the http:// behind the http:// that is already there, then after I publish the post, go back and edit out the extra http://. Otherwise the durned computer puts the addy of this website in and won't let me edit that out. Please don't ask why. What is even stranger, when I have my site's addy in the link, that I didn't want, I can hover my curser over the broken link and see it in the bottom left corner of my screen, I click on "edit html" and my site's addy doesn't show. Don't ask.

Oh well, it works. Hey, I'm for bed. I loaded some .45 Colt ammo for my '92, a box of fifty rounds of the Hornaday 250 grain XTP hollowpoint in front of a heavy load of Hodgdon's Lil Gun Powder. I also loaded a batch of that same bullet in front of a heavy load of Hodgdon's H110.These loads should clock 1300 and 1400 feet per second out of a revolver and should hit a solid 1750-1850, maybe a bit more out of the 24 inch tube in the rifle. The question is, how will my body react to that crescent shaped steel butt plate. I might just lose some fillings but I'm going to the range. I swear, the greatest invention of 20th century riflery was not the scope sight or improved metalurgy but those flat shotgun buttplates. Those skinny, curved steel crescent buttplates can flat jar you silly.

To heck with it, I am taking plenty of soft lead black powder loads, too. If the hot loads are too bothersome I'll shoot the real thing. I have plenty of BP shotshells for my mule ear double,too. If air travel is cancled in Oklahoma and Kanas tomorrow it is because of the south wind blowing my powder smoke north.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Overslept And Missed The Shoot.

I overslept this morning, I woke up about the time of the mandatory safety meeting. Since I am about an hour's drive from the shoot I said shucks, plus several other colorful expletives and comments. There is something wrong with a world that requires a retired guy to buy an alarm clock but it seems we need a new one.

I really wanted to make this shoot, too. New boots, new rear sight on my rifle, even a new stampede string on my hat. I'm tired of my hat flying downrange in the mild Texas breeze. The rule is that the Pards are allowed to shoot holes in a hat that goes downrange. Fortunately they missed. I went to Shepler's for the stampede String. I got it home and found that it too was made in China. Seems that it's damned hard to find American made cowboy gear. I haven't been to that part of the world since the late sixties. Maybe I'll bleg some to see if my multitude of readers will send me back to check out the Chinese Cowboys.

Oh well, now that I'm here, let me tell you about the trip to Arkansas. The main reason for the trip was to go to Powder, Inc. We got there just fine, I drove right past it because there is no sign but we doubled back and found it. There is no sign because the feller that runs the place runs it as a wholesale business and not a store. Oh well, we found it and I got my thirty-five pounds of FFG.

On the way there we stopped for lunch at a diner in Hugo, Oklahoma. I don't bemember the name but it was a little bitty place across the street from the Ford Dealership. Linda Lou wants to go back, the cheeseburgers were real good. There were like ten stools and no booths or tables. Still, if you ever get to Hugo, the cheesburger and fries at the Busy Bee Cafe, Linda Lou remembers the name.

We stopped in Sallisaw, Oklahoma to go to this Indian store. It was too late in the afternoon to go to Sequoyah's Home, that is the feller that came up with a written language for the Cherokee Nation. Good thing, too. A lot of the Indian languages are already lost, more are in danger of being lost. Note to the Politically Correct: I don't care if you want to call them "Native Americans". I'm native American, too, only I'm not an Indian. Anyway, don't bother me, I have a gun. Several guns. Anyhow, we didn't buy much, they had some real pretty watches but, since we hardly ever leave the house we have enough watches.

We spent the night in Fort Smith, I would like to go back and spend a couple days there. The town is the old stomping grounds of Judge Parker who was in the business of hangin' outlaws back when Oklahoma was the Indian Nation. Deputy US marshals would ride out of Fort Smith and return with the outlaws either in handcuffs or slung over their saddles and nobody much cared which. John Wayne played the role of Rooster Cogburn in two movies where he was a Deputy Marshall out of Fort Smith.

Anyhow, George the German Shepherd behaved in the motel so he gets to go to Arizona and California with us. He got bored riding in the van, though, and chewed on Linda Lou's umbrella handle. And he is eating the couch, too. I am begging for the day he reaches two years old and stops eating the whole house.

This brings us up to the trip to Powder, Inc. Jerry, the feller that runs the place, had a few acres, maybe more, just outside Clarksville, Arkansas. While he went to his house to process my Visa Card I talked with the man who started the Black Dawge Cartridge Co, who was visiting. He sold the company to Goex but still messes with loading black powder cartridges. Anyhow we talked loading BP rounds for a while. He convinced me to avoid shooting the "Big Lube" bullets and just keep on loading my ammo with a grease cookie, instead. Seems that the Big Lube bullets, with that one huge lube groove are balanced wrong and at longer ranges, tend to tumble in flight. That does not matter much for the vast majority of cowboy action shooting, the ranges are too close. There is the odd stage, though, that ends with taking shots at a hundred yard gong. Actually, let me rephrase that. I am not going to buy the mold for the Big Lube bullets before I order a couple hundred of the bullets and give them a thorough test on paper at a hundred and two hundred yards. The Feller that warned me about them was in competion with the Big Lube bullet folks, and, if he kept stock in in the new company, may still be in competition.

What is a Big Lube Bullet? It is a bullet cast with one huge lube groove, it holds about ten or so times the lube that ordinary cast bullets carry. I have been looking at buying a batch to test. What has held me back so far is that the bullet molds only come in six cavity. I use a two cavity mold, normally. My little ten pound melting furnace is fine for a two cavity mold. A six cavity takes so much metal that it won't melt the ingots fast enough to keep up. It sounds odd but I can get a faster rate of 'keeper' bullets with a two cavity mold than a six cavity. The melt gets cold, while waiting for the melt to heat up, the mold gets cold. Then I run maybe ten cycles heating the mold up to make good bullets, run about three cycles of good bullets, then I need to add more ingots and the whole process starts over. Dang! So, in addition to buying a seventy plus dollar mold, I have to buy a twenty pound furnace, too. Too much money. What I can do is spend $18.00 for 250 of the bullets. Since I am going out to my niece's wedding in June to the California branch of the family, I'll drop into San Jose and buy a batch from a feller that does that, in addition to making gunbelts and holsters. Anyhow, if the 250 shoot well I start bombarding my pal Dick Dastardly with E-mails demanding that he order two cavity molds as well as six cavity. If the other guys are right, then I just stick with my two groove Lee bullets.

Fortunately, the 35 pounds of Black Powder fit very well in the space under the floorboards of the van for the drive back. Linda lou still smokes like a defective chimney. We would STILL be on the road trying to make it home what with stopping every three miles for her to smoke. The middle row seats fit under the floorboards when folded down. Good spot to hide stuff when the seats are up.

Ooops, it's time to get off the net, I need a nap and then it's time for the NASCAR race.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Busy Week.

I've been busy last week on non-blogging stuff. I got myself a couple big heavy lead bricks from a defunct hospital, they were used to shield the X-Ray Department and were pure lead. I had to melt them down and add a little tin to make my ingots to cast bullets for my black powder loads. That done, I then had to spend hours hunched over my little electric furnace casting a bazillion bullets. The melted lead can cause fumes, and a spill ruins everything it lands on so this work is done outside, on the deck. Since it is way to hot to be cuddled up to a furnace full of melted lead six months out of the year I try to get all my casting done in the late fall to late spring.

Casting bullets is pure drudgery and this is why there are lots and lots of commercial casters out there, I use a lot of them myself, plus a ton of those swaged Remington 255 grain bullets, too. Now that we're both retired and sittin' on very skinny wallets, though, I am trying to save some cash when I can.

I got my last order of Beewax in, from a new supplier I found on the internet,
Southeast Texas Honey Co. Their filtered yellow beeswax is only $8.00 for a two pound block which is the best price I've found. So far, all I've used beeswax for is my wax wads to keep the gobs of commercial black powder lube from contaminating my powder charges. Of course, that was when I only knew of ten buck a pound beeswax. Now I am trying to use one of the big blocks to make my own lube, the simplest recipe I have found yet is a mix of beeswax and olive oil. The recipes vary, it seems that every Soot Lord, or Soot Lady, has his, or her, own. The olive oil and beewax recipes vary, too, as to the mix. Seems the hotter the weather, the less olive oil. Since I live where the summers are just a little hotter than the back gate of Hell I expect to run about 35-40% oil in the summer and maybe 50-50 during the rest of the year. The nice thing is that it ain't rocket science, if my lube is too thin I can add more wax, too thick, more oil.

In other news, my boots came in the UPS truck. I got those Durango Range Boots in tan. Actually after lookin' at them they're darker than tan and lighter than brown. I had to drive all over Hell's half acre to find the right color polish, I finally found some Justin Cognac boot cream that is perfect. I needed a new pair of walk-around, everyday boots, too so I bought a pair of Justin 'basic' ropers. These are the ones to replace the set that George, the German Shepherd puppy ate. I got them home and discovered that the new Justin Basics are made in China. It is a heck of a world when we discover that our own illegal alien Mexican labor is too expensive for the world market. Well, anyway, my next pair of everyday boots will be some other brand. Anyhow, both sets of new kickers are carefully covered in mink oil and then polished. I'm not sure when it became standard to not polish shoes or boots before first wearing them. I also don't know when the full shelves of boot and shoe polish at drugstores went. As expensive as shoes have gotten, I don't understand the lack of polish. Just a coat of polish every couple of weeks will double the life of a pair of kicks. Anyway, Linda Lou is giving me funny looks for wearing seventeen inch tall mule ear boots in my briefs. Who's briefs am I supposed to wear? I'm just tryin' to get 'em broke in before the next shoot.

We're leaving town for a short trip, tomorrow. We've never been to Fort Smith Arkansas and there is a lot of history, there. Just as important, Powder, Inc. is an hour out of Ft. Smith. I pay over $18.00 plus tax a pound for black powder, locally. Powder Inc is a supplier and charges ten bucks a pound, plus a $20.00 Hazmat fee for the shipper, a $20.00 fee for a ten pound order still makes it a lot cheaper. There is no good reason to make the drive instead of sending an E-mail except that as long as we've lived in the area we haven't seen that neck o' the woods. Plus, George has never spent a night in a motel. This trip is an experiment for later vacations. This trip is also making me popular in my home cowboy action club, I bringing back a case of 25 pounds for the other Soot Lords.

The last big deal last week was the arrival of my Marble's Tang Sight for my Navy Arms clone of the '92 Winchester. I don't know why but Midway had it for $25.00 off. The price of $99.99 is better than $125.00. Anyhow I got it on Thursday and installed it that night. I went Friday and shot the rifle off the bench. Group sized was cut in half over the semi-buckhorn factory site. My next match is March 14. I plan on shooting the rifle targets clean. With black powder. In new boots. Yee-haw.