The Mister just took off with the Senior Dogs to drop them at their Bed and Breakfast for the weekend.
So Jack and I are left to round up the food portion of this outing. Normally, I wouldn't be able to keep him out of the cooler and the dry goods box. But since the other two got to wear leashes and disappear, he's very concerned, and is pacing around the house whining.
Yes, Jack. Daddy took Sparky and Casey and left us here forever. [roll eyes]
If only we could communicate with them for just a couple of minutes...
Listen, boy. They're going to Dog Camp, and you get to go camping. So just chill out, mmmmkay?
29 December 2007
The Mister just took off with the Senior Dogs to drop them at their Bed and Breakfast for the weekend.
Posted by Abby at 11:42
I tried to think of a dog-related title, but all of them involved butt-licking. Since this is one of those updating-the-blogroll posts, I thought it would rude to associate our blog friends with the licking of butts.
Which I have entirely managed to do now, so I think I'll just get down to business.
I was inspired to do a little updating when I found out that Rustmeister, who tends to come around when we're talking about things-that-go-bang, has a new place. Rustermeister's Alehouse, open for business!
We love Morning Glory around here. She's a supporter of our fine warriors downrange - as she should be, as her daughter is among them. Go, visit, thank her for raising a Soldier!
Holly's Histrionics...is almost too eclectic to blurb here. Suffice it to say she's very clever, a fellow North Texan, and not shy about pointing it out when she notices insanity in the world around us.
My Own Woman strikes a chord with me - she's a nurse (and I grew up surrounded by those) who is, like the rest of it, looking for the meaning of it all. She's aided in that search by a pair of Yorkies, so we know she's a patient and tolerant soul.
For all of your totally gratuitous meat pics, and fabulous still lifes of Koran abuse, drop on over to Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. I like Daddyquatro's sense of humor.
That's going to have to do it for the evening. A little blog maintenance is better than none.
Now, if I could just bring myself to do some Workspace Maintenance...
Yes, that is the most horrifying thing you've ever seen. And yes, that minty 3 Musketeers bar is fabulous.
Posted by Abby at 00:04
28 December 2007
It's Friday night. Thanks to my Evil Corporate Masters, I have a four-day weekend.
Hey - you've all been great employees, so we're going to close on Christmas and New Year's Eve!
Awesome! Hey - are we getting paid?
No, you have to use PTO. Unless you haven't been here a year, in which case you have PTO but aren't allowed to use it!
Gee, thanks for the short holiday paycheck!
Anyway, I'd rather have time than money (although the mortgage people don't see it that way), so we're taking advantage of the time off and we're going camping.
(Yes, we used to go hunting. But we suck and the animals are all hiding, so now we call it camping.)
The Senior Dogs have reservations at some canine bed and breakfast, and Puptard is coming with us. Tomorrow is packing day, tonight is sitting around drinking coffee and eating leftover Christmas candy.
Posted by Abby at 21:14
27 December 2007
The assassination of Pakistans' once-and-perhaps-future prime minister Benazir Bhutto is a dark thing.
It is a sad thing - her candidacy and the support for it hinted at progress in Pakistan. The country could define "fragmented," but there was real support, groundswell support, for a woman of education and prestige to help push all of Pakistan further into the modern era and onto the world economic stage.
There are forces of darkness in Pakistan - it's where the Taliban came from. The area called Waziristan - you'll find it labeled "Northwest Tribal Area - Ungoverned" on many maps - is probably where Bin Laden lurks, and it's been no-man's land for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and the "dictatorship" of Pervez Musharraf is not a sure thing - he walks a fine line to maintain control of a military and security service with Taliban sympathizers in its ranks.
It is a country vital not only for its support of our country's agenda in the region, but the security of which is vital to the safety of the world.
It will be touch-and-go for some time there. It will be a challenge to read between the wallowing, wailing lines of the media to try to see what is really happening there, but I think it's worth paying attention to.
Any developments there could also, incidentally, make the discussions among all our aspiring commanders-in-chief very interesting.
Posted by Abby at 19:12
26 December 2007
I've done a bit of poking around to figure this out. I have an FEG SA2000-M rifle. These are, it seems, a Hungarian rifle imported during the Bad Old Days of the AWB, and were manufactured (or at least heavily modified) specifically for US sale.
(image swiped from the highly informational folks at The Guns Network)
Therefore, they have the dubious distinction of having been somehow modified to accept only a proprietary 10-round magazine.
This is, of course, not necessarily a positive thing. Other than that, what little information I have found seems to indicate they are, in general, a good, servicable rifle.
It appears there is a conversion option, but information is scanty as to whether this is one of the easiest things in the world or a very difficult one requiring talent and specialized equipment.
For the time being, I think I'll let that ride. I've ordered a couple spare 10-rounders, and I think that will be entirely sufficient for my needs. I do reserve the right, if I eventually decide it's necessary, to get down with my bad pseudo-machinist self and start making modifications.
But I am thinking of some slightly more traditional wood furniture for it to wear. Hmmm...
So. It comes to our attention that Mike Huckabee went hunting. It appears he may even have been successful.
Huckabee's team brought back three pheasants — one of which the candidate claimed he personally shot — and promised they'd be "cleaned and eaten."
This is all fine and good and pretty much par for the course. What caught my eye was the picture. It's a still from the beginning of the CNN video. Observe (the still, that is).
Now, there was a big brouhaha over an distinctly unflattering picture of the junior Senator from New York recently.
I found that whole shriekfest tacky in the extreme, and it one of the few times I've been tempted to shoot the bird to the whole Sexist World Intent on Oppressing the Sisterhood, and get behind Hillary.
However, I think I shall simply call for justice and equal time. The Huckabee hunting photo makes a fairly handsome man look like...well, the punchlines write themselves. But I think we must, in the interest of the all important fairness, make fun of it.
In this picture, Mr. Huckabee looks like a gap-toothed, double-negative employing, stained-tanktop-wearing yahoo.
my true love gave to me...
A nice snuggly bathrobe.
And for the second gift of Christmas, my Yorkie gave the me...
this slightly disturbing package.
That's right, folks - gifts are here often go BOOM.
That would be a Hungarian AK. Someone (and I do have my suspicions that it's not Sparky) decided that the gap in my arms collection was too large.
So now I have something totally new to learn about. Which is cool.
And the Mister?
Santa brought him some sort of integrated taillight thingamabob for his motorcycle, among the usual assortment of clothes.
And socks. Socks were big this year.
Posted by Abby at 09:34
25 December 2007
I am not kidding when I tell you that I had to drag Casey back to bed at 0553, because she heard the Fat Man in the Red Suit and wanted to see what he'd left.
It turned out she was right to be excited.
Santa had apparently also heard about Sparky's toad issue, and brought him an amphibian he could handle.
And since this is, we believe, Jack's first Christmas, there were a couple of things he wasn't aware of. Including the fact that although Santa puts things in his stocking, those items are still in their original wrappers.
Because the bones ARE better if you take the plastic off.
Posted by Abby at 10:04
24 December 2007
21 December 2007
So I came home an hour early. Perhaps I was thrown out for an astonishing lack of pre-Christmas productivity, or perhaps I made a up a good story and split - I'm not telling.
The Mister had been home, but was out on an error. He left the satellite TV radio tuned to the salsa/merengue channel, though.
So I've been salsaing with Jack. You can't beat dancing with a puppy for fun before a four-day vacation.
Posted by Abby at 18:09
20 December 2007
When the shrieking customer says, You put the wrong address on my package and now my son won't have a Christmas gift? That's unacceptable! What are you going to do about it?
I will not reply, I'm sorry you don't know your address and entered a South Dakota ZIP for your Virgina home. I'm sorry you managed to reproduce. I'm going to go home and drink wine.
When the shrieking customer says, What do you mean that's still on backorder? I need it for Christmas!!!
I will not reply, What kind of asshole buys their loved ones that [weird piece of crap object] for Christmas?
When the nonconfrontational sales agent tries to play dumb and transfer me a customer whose package is obviously lost, and says, He's got a pretty serious FedEx issue and I'm not sure what the story is.
I will not reply, You know exactly what the story is, and you know he is not going to get his package by Christmas. You tell him. You think I like being bitched at all day?
And finally, when my boss shoots me an email and says, This customer called in about his order from two weeks ago and has a credit card issue, please contact him.
I will not shoot one back and reply, His credit card got declined and you know it. We've been calling him every day for two weeks. You contact him and tell him he's not getting his items in time for Christmas.
UPDATE: You know, the worst thing about all this is that I have to find a way to say, about 50 times a day, to a stranger and without laughing....Sir, my name is Abby, and I understand there's a problem with your package...
Posted by Abby at 23:47
A brief comment to popular author Dean Koontz.
Although the gang at Bad Dog Central enjoys your novels, particularly the constant themes of hope and self-reliance, we do have a bone to pick. It is a source of great joy that dogs are often featured prominently in your novels. Casey in particular enjoyed the German Shepherd in The Taking.
However, the gang feels a little slighted by your obvious adoration of golden retrievers. Sparky points out that if you want to emphasize the unconditional love that endears dogs to humans, you could find no better case study than the Yorkshire Terrier.
And Jack simply thinks there's not much a golden can do that a black lab can't do with less shedding.
Anyway. We all enjoyed The Darkest Evening of the Year, staying up far too late last night in order to read it cover-to-cover.
In fact, this morning I found that one of us had enjoyed the covers perhaps more than the individual pages. Perhaps the cover is liver-flavored?
Apparently, the picture of the author's late golden on the flyleaf was of particular interest, as Jack seems to have claimed it as sort of a dog-bed pinup.
Posted by Abby at 19:35
19 December 2007
It is, they say, a digital world now. And I suppose they're right. At the conference I attended last week, I heard a senior officer proudly proclaim that ran a "digital brigade."
The Army has indeed embraced technology. In my early Marine Corps days, they had just begun to require direct deposit of pay. Everything was still done with real paper, though.
Not so anymore, and definitely not in the Army. In the Modern Army, we have systems. Oh good Lord, do we have systems.
The greatest of them all, the big granddaddy, is Army Knowledge Online (AKO).
The Army's Enterprise Portal, Army Knowledge Online (AKO), is a primary component of the Army Knowledge Management (AKM) strategy and The Army Transformation. As the single point of entry into a robust and scalable knowledge management system, AKO is strategically changing the way the Army does business. By enabling greater knowledge sharing among Army communities, AKM fosters improved decision dominance by commanders and business stewards in the battle space, organizations, and Army's mission processes.
AKO is mandatory. It "embraces" a mildly-secure email system that is also mandatory. AKO requires frequent password changes, and all passwords must be between 8 and 37 characters, include at least two capital and seven lower-case letters, a number of numerals equal to the number of letters divided by your paygrade, and several special characters.
This password periodically, you will learn, must be reset using your Common Access Card (CAC). First you must go to an ID card facility and ensure your CAC has current "certificates," then if you don't want to drive to an Army facility, you must buy a card reader, download the approved CAC software from the AKO website, and figure out how to install it. Then you must log in with your CAC, remember and enter your 4-16 digit CAC pin, and change your AKO password.
You do this so you can then access all the ancillary systems and fulfill requirements.
You can create special IDs and satisfy classroom requirements (driver ed, risk management, brain injury). You can download more software and figure out how to have a "digital signature" so you can sign paperwork that is a requirement. Best of all, you can gain access to the Great Big Security Website to try to sort out your security clearance issues (because that is also a requirement).
The Great Big Security system is adorable. Really, it's been making me giggle like a pedophile at Chuck E. Cheese for the past few days.
See, I've had a security clearance (a boring one, not a Tom Clancy novel clearance) for years now. And at some point, apparently, I used this goddam Great Big System to enter the information required for renewing it.
And when I did, I was forced to set up (you're going to love this term - it's precious) Golden Questions. You know, to really really verify who I am in case the Muj steals my social security number.
1 - How many brothers do you have?
2 - What is your mother's maiden name?
3 - What was your first pet's name?
This is really, really not complex. I know all of these things, and cannot fathom a point in my adult life when there would have been any confusion about any of them.
But can I supply the correct answers? Apparently freakin' not. Of course, pointing out that there really isn't any way my clearance is expired and that there's a large trail of evidence to that conclusion isn't an option. I must access the Great Big System and interact with it.
Which cannot happen unless I can figure out how on earth I may have chosen to indicate my only-child status whenever it was I set these Golden Questions up.
So I have a toll-free number to call the Security Clearance People, who I am sure have some really charming system set up for those of us who cannot answer our "Golden Questions."
They're going to waterboard me. I know it. I'm going to be out in my garage, shivering and spluttering while grim-faced DoD civilians stand over me.
"The dog's name! Give us the dog's name!"
Scruffy! The dog's name was Scruffy!
Posted by Abby at 22:19
...it's because you all really don't want to know.
The Mister was diagnosed by the crack Navy medical team down at JRB with some sort of nasty foot skin condition. Does that sound like fun or what? Ointments are involved.
Jack stole a string of shiny plastic beads off the Christmas tree. I'm not sure if he hid them in the yard or actually ate them. If he ate them, I'm not sure if it was as a string or in smaller pieces. Trust me, I will take pictures if this develops into a Great Pooping Moment.
The annual gift-buying debacle is almost at an end. Now I'm left with wrapping. Super. As an American, I should be better at expressing my love by people stuff, but I really suck at it. I love you, here's a nice flashlight just doesn't seem to cut it. [sigh]
I'm trying to have a gift for my Dad delivered to a remote location Up Home. Of course, it seems to be traveling with a signature requirement that I did not request, and so now I have to call the delivery company and shriek. In short, I am being forced to become one of my customers.
My (paternal) grandmother is back in the hospital. Third time in less than a month. Nothing makes you feel like a jackass more than deciding to stay in Texas for Christmas and having your Grandma in the hospital back home.
17 December 2007
during the year's runup-to-Christmas
1 - hope springs eternal. Even if the Perfect Gift is out of stock and due in on Thursday, someone in New Hampshire will try to corner me into promising I can have it delivered Friday.
2 - cheap knows no season. Less than a week before the Big Day, there are still folks who want to whine that super-budget-freight-saver shipping won't get their items to them on Saturday.
3 - desperation opens wallets. If your son wants some weird item, and you feel like a bad father to start with, you will pay $50 for overnight shipping to ensure you don't screw up Christmas.
4 - preparedness must feel very good. The happiest people I talked to today were not buying Christmas presents. No darlin', they'd drawl (and I could hear the smile). I'm doing some shootin' in February and just want to be ready.
5 - I love our FedEx corporate liasion guy. He's wonderful. He calls me with solutions, and on the off chance I ever meet him, I fully intend to hug him.
I expect things will fall off for our sales folks, but I get the awful feeling the next four days will be like having sharp sticks jabbed in the eyes of the Fixin' Problems Department.
And, finally, I'm not really one to point fingers, but some people buy other people some weird crap for Christmas. I'm just sayin'...
Posted by Abby at 21:07
16 December 2007
Well, it's up. And it's decorated.
Before decorating, we had coffee and snacks. Which was pretty tempting for one of us.
We finally ended the torment and got down to business.
Oh, he's been pretty good so far. But you can just tell what he's thinking by his posture - I'm going to eat that tree while you guys are at work tomorrow.
It's been cool here, so Casey spent the evening out in the yard, pretending to be a timberwolf or some such herding dog fantasy. Sparky was unimpressed with the entire proceeding, and stayed on the couch.
Wake me, he said, when Santa Paws shows up with the squeaky toys.
Posted by Abby at 22:18
15 December 2007
It's the third Saturday of the month, and we all know what that means. Yep - I'm at work.
I've been here 40 minutes and have already been told that I have ruined Christmas.
This was explained to me by a woman who was obviously (by the background noise) working in the kitchen in a house full of family.
Lady, if your family is in your house, and you're all going to have dinner together, your Christmas has not been ruined.
Posted by Abby at 13:07
14 December 2007
Another gray and cold morning, wherein I get out of bed and Jack dashes hopefully to my running shoes and looks at me - Mom, are we going to go outside and jog?
Alas, pupster, no. We are going to have cofffee and do pushups, and you're not much help with either.
The Evil Corporate Masters are holding the Annual Holiday Party this evening, and we have all been expressly instructed to act responsibly. I suppose that rules out tequila shots and gunfire, so I don't know why I agreed to attend.
Posted by Abby at 09:34
13 December 2007
Yesterday was a little nuts. After I finished what I had to do at "Port Wood," I dropped by their dental clinic to try to get an exam.
(One of the primary measures of effectiveness for Army Reserve commanders these days is the deployability of the unit. This means that there is a neverending barrage of requirements to go get a shot, get your teeth looked at, draft a family care plan, etc. I will be truly impressed if (and only if), when the deployment actually occurs, this leads to an increase in training time and allows us to skip the days spent at the immunization clinic at the mobilization station. I somehow doubt that will be the case.)
Of course, that wasn't going to work, so I drove like the proverbial bat out of Hell to get back up to join some other folks in getting a dental exam here.
I pulled that off and was declared in possession of deployable teeth (let's here it for flossing!).
Then, because it's a digital Army, I went to the ID card facility because I did not have sufficient functioning certificates on my ID card. This was preventing me from using my ID card to log in to the great Army Online Thing.
Got a new ID card (with certificates!). Then I called it a day and came home. Opened the door, walked in, and found this:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is/was my Sibley Guide to Birds. Not my little Sibley guide that covers the eastern half of the US, but my big one.
That #4 on my bird book "special" list. If he'd eaten 1,2 or 3, it may have been a walk out into the back yard with a 9mm and a shovel.
The annoyance level was elevated by the fact that my bird guides aren't just reference books, I record the birds I see and ID in them.
So now I have a pile of pages stacked on top of the gun safe to go through when I have some free time (ha!) and move my notes over to one of my other guides.
We're going to skip trying the whole kennel concept, and I'm going to just use a loop of logging chain and couple cinder blocks on Jack during the day, I think.
Posted by Abby at 08:59
10 December 2007
This whole exploring-a-new-and-giant post thing might not be so hard if it the entire middle of the state wasn't choked in some sort of cold, dreary mist/fog that's been getting steadily thicker.
I like this sort of weather under most circumstances - I'm a kind of dreary, grayish gal myself. But it's not much for reading roadsigns and looking ahead for building numbers.
In one cheery note, the apparently almost-blind woman at the 7-11 up the way carded me buying cigarettes. I'll take that, thank you very much!
Posted by Abby at 18:07
Your tax dollars are hard at work, funding several days of me galivanting around central Texas. Stop it - you know you're envious.
I'm holed up in an only-mildly-scary motel right outside a major military installation that sounds like Port Wood. I have to attend a group hug for an upcoming training evolution tomorrow, and so I've already driven on base, and found a couple different ways to get to where I need to be in the morning.
I've never been to Port Wood before, and I was, as I usually am when I end up on a major Army installation, overwhelmed and lost within minutes. The Army, ladies and gentlemen, is big. I mean, really, really big.
Port Wood has two whole divisions and all the associated support units. And it's big.
My Marine Corps days involved Okinawa and 29 Palms - even Pendleton was huge in my book, and Pendleton does not have anywhere near the sheer number of people these big Army posts do. I've been amazed by the amount of people, and the sheer quantity of stuff, ever since I crossed over from the Marine Corps.
(Do you know that in the Army, you get brand new polypro long underwear? Nobody's ever worn them before, and you get to keep them when you check out of a unit! How's that for the wasteful luxury of a large organization?)
However, I think this motel is located at the corner of Crack and Gang, so I'm going to go check my route to tomorrow's location once more time and find somewhere to buy a paperback. Then I'm going to barricade the doors and wait for sunrise.
09 December 2007
By Jack The Black Dog
First we left Sparky and Casey at Aunt Melissa's but they didn't leave me and I thought for a while they were going to drive out somewhere and leave me by the side of the road because somebody did that to me one time. But they did not do that and instead we drove for a long time and then stopped at someplace called Burger King. I did not get to have a burger but I got something called chicken fries and they were great because they were chicken but with no bones so I could eat them.
We drove a little more (I had to ride in the back of the truck which was not as much fun as being up front but I had more room). Then we all got out and we were in the place with all the pine trees and I was allowed to run run run.
Do you know what is in the woods that's great? Sticks. The woods is just full of sticks. I did get in some trouble for taking the sticks Abby piled up by the round pit thing, but those were apparently the only special sticks that I couldn't have.
Later they tied me to a tree and took their guns and went for a walk, but they came back real soon and said something about not being able to give corn to pigs so I guess they were done hunting.
Then they untied me and built a fire and cooked meat and potatoes and I got to have some. It was very hot but it was good. Then I got to sit by the fire by them and listen to the country radio station from Louisiana.
Then we went to bed and before we went I heard a bunch of coyotes running and making noise but I didn't try to go hang out with them because I had a good spot to sleep and I think coyotes are mean.
We all slept in the truck and they had sleeping bags and I had my bed and they said it was my job to protect them from coyotes but none came because I don't think there are any animals in that woods.
Then this morning we got up and I ran around and ate some more sticks and we came home. I did not get any chicken fries on the trip back so it was not as much fun.
Posted by Abby at 12:59
07 December 2007
We pushed our departure to Saturday morning when the Mister, victim of circumstances beyond his control, missed a vital phaseline in the scheduled execution of our departure plan.
There are lots of moving parts these days. Army stuff, job (both current and possible) stuff, family health stuff...
So an evening at home isn't all bad. It offers the opportunity to sit around and drink beer and try to figure out what on earth is going on.
You know, when I was a kid, I thought grownups had everything figured out. I don't know if I thought there was a book, or a briefing, or what, but I figured that all the big people who could write checks and drive knew what was going on.
What a joke. And what a revelation, when we finally realize that everybody we've ever encountered has just been winging it.
Posted by Abby at 21:51
Just lazy. And really, what am I doing that all of us aren't this time of year? Suddenly realizing that it's time to get moving with this Christmas stuff, trying to find the exact Christmas-related item I'm looking for in the attic, and thinking about the Tree Issue.
We've got lots of space and a good spot for the tree, but I keep thinking of it, then looking at Jack, then putting the whole issue off for another day.
Tree + Puppy = Endless excitement.
I think we'll buy it early next week, and then the challenge will be to find a selection of ornaments made entirely out of rocks or something equally dogproof.
In the name of putting that off and spending a precious weekend doing something entirely useless, the Mister and I will be heading out to look at the pig situation tonight. Casey and Sparky are staying with their Aunt Melissa, but we're taking Puptard with us.
This should be an adventure.
Posted by Abby at 09:15
04 December 2007
Well, the fabled "busy season" seems to have kicked off at work. There are three people back in our little section, and one of them is already out with some extended medical issues.
Of course, this is the point at which the Army decides they need me for four days scattered among the next ten. My boss actually had kittens yesterday when I gave him copies of the orders.
"Why couldn't they do this in January?" he asked.
"Because if it's not screwing up your life, it's not the Army."
However, because I like the remaining coworker who has no issues preventing her from working, and because I am on the team, I agreed to work some extended hours on the days I am available so we can keep our heads above water. And so my nice coworker doesn't have to shoot anyone.
So I'm off an hour early, and will stay an hour later. It's certainly not the worst thing ever, but it will make for an annoying week.
01 December 2007
I am sitting here in my kitchen, awaiting the arrival of the in-laws.
I just finished the laborious process of assembling my Class A uniform.
Since I have to wear the nice uniform, that means I cannot scam out of wearing the black Army beret.
It's a new beret, so I had to shave the thing. I spent 15 minutes hunched over the bathroom sink, shaving a piece of military headgear.
Now I'm wearing it. Because they need shaping, you know.
Did I mention that the beret is wet? Because they take a shape better that way.
30 November 2007
Okay, not really, I justed wanted to use that as a post title.
The Super Swine Supper Source (henceforth referred to "the feeder") is in place. In fact, it should have spewed forth sweet, crunchy, delicious corn just shy of three hours ago.
First, we filled it. 350 pounds of dry corn fills a 55-gallon drum, for those who might be interested.
Then we tested it.
We were not expecting such immediate success, but the North American subspecies of Blackus Labdumbass is not known for its intellect, and in fact appeared at the feeder while we were standing right there.
Now...we wait. I think next weekend shows promise for camping and hog stalking. This weekend, on the other hand, includes drill and in-laws, so chances are posting will be scare.
Posted by Abby at 20:19
29 November 2007
I work next to a bunch of phone sales agents. They're paid on commission, and there's some low flat hourly rate to supplement that when they're not making sales, as I understand it.
Of course, this is the month preceding Christmas, so business has picked up a little.
I'm not sure what sort of paid time off setup they have, but I think someone needs to look into the compensation for "sick days" for them. Because they're dragging in with every kind of coughing, hacking, snurfling and moaning ailment known to humanity.
Apparently, nobody wants to be out sick and miss the opportunity to make big sales. Ugh.
I, however, would love to miss the opportunity to catch all of their nasty viruses.
Alas...fortified with extra vitamin C, dressed warmly and well-hydrated, I'm going to work. I have to stop at Tractor Supply, and perhaps I'll see if they have some sort of agricultural protective clothing that I can wear. Maybe a calving/lambing suit and a respirator, and some sort of dairy barn disinfectant I can spray the entire office with?
28 November 2007
The mention of using a spotlight as a hunting accessory in the last post reminded me of a story...
My sophmore year at Small Town High, I took World History with Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry was a big guy, about 1,000 years old, and a character. He had been teaching history since Christ was a corporal.
First day of class he went through the class list, taking attendance.
"Abby [Oldname]?" he barked. "[Oldname]? You Bob's daughter or Chuck's?"
My Dad and my uncle. It was a small town. My Dad and my uncle had been lively (that is, pain-in-the-ass) students and athletes back in the day.
"Bob's my Dad."
Mr. Perry peered at me. "Yeah, I remember Bob."
Mr. Perry had been a coach years ago, and retained the figured. Stoop shouldered and wrinkled, he was a big - not fat, just big - old man. In the summer, he supplemented his income by working as a part-time DNR ranger.
The man had a gift for gab. He taught the Norman Invasion of England in 1066 in two days of lecture. Just stomped back and forth across the front of the room, occasionally gesturing at a map of the British Isles, and telling a story.
It was a good story. You have to be a good storyteller to keep 25 high school sophmores hanging on every word for two days, and he did.
The Norman Invasion, though, was possibly the only subject that I don't remember him working poaching into. Like a lot of small-town woodsmen, he seemed to delight in those who operated just outside the game laws, even if he spent a portion of each year enforcing them.
"So these cave paintings, they'd have deer in them, right? Because deer were a food source for a hunter-gatherer population. Of course, they hunted with spears..."
A gleam would come into his eyes, and we'd know what was coming.
"And now spears, they aren't an easy way to hunt deer. We all know the easy way to put deer on the table..."
And by the end of the year, we could pretty much chant the next part right along with him.
"You get you a million-candlepower spotlight and a good .22 magnum, and you get in the back of a pickup and find somebody to drive you. And you drive these backroads real slow a couple hours after dusk and you shine that light out into the field until you pick up two eyes...."
Mr. Perry also did a mean moose impression, but I cannot for the life of me remember how that came up.
Mr. Perry was a widower, and it was a shame to think of all that personality wasting away alone at the end of the day. However... At the other side of the school, in the library, worked Mrs. Murphy.
She was the benevolent second-in-command at the high school library (which doubled as the town library), a tiny woman who radiated kindness and gentleness. That was fortunate, because the library was run by an ony-slightly-benevolent dictator who none of us were bright enough to appreciate at the time.
A few years after I left high school, Mr. Perry and Mrs. Murphy were married. I smiled when I heard the news - it was nice to think of her being kind to him, and of him making her smile with his jokes and stories.
It was still nice a couple years further down the line, when word reached me that Mr. Perry had died. He left behind, in addition to one very kind woman, thousands of former students who remember not only the Norman Invasion of England, but the best way to spotlight deer.
27 November 2007
So the gentleman who owns the property where we were hunting was talking to to Mr. Abby. He decided that he liked deer, and was rather bummed about having primarily pigs.
He would not be at all opposed, he said, if the Mister and I employed less-than-sporting measures to try to reduce his pig population.
(we fully recognize that on a rarely-occupied property, effectively reducing an established population of wild hogs is pretty unlikely. They breed like rats.)
We are game to try. So the Mister hatched himself an idea, which is never a good sign. We spent our evening in the garage, and ended up with this -
That would be a Phase I do-it-yerself hog baitin' feeder. If you look real close at the 55-gallon drum, you can tell it originally held grease for a restaurant. How much fun do you think cleaning that was?
Next steps include the mounting of the actual feeding/timing device, possible extension of the legs, and a paint job.
Then, of course, comes the math part, wherein one figures that if said drum can hold 300lbs of dry corn, how often can one run the feeder and for how long before the tank is empty? Ick. Math for grownups.
However, the any means necessary mandate implies, at least to me, that we're cleared hot for million candlepower spotlights. Which really appeals to my inner redneck.
All this is socially acceptable, of course, because feral hogs are an environmental disaster. Like starlings and Asian carp.
Posted by Abby at 23:31
25 November 2007
Well, the Guest Dogs just took off, and Jack is wandering around whining, pining for his girlfriend.
It was cute, but at the same time...two young labs is a bit much.
Casey is thrilled she doesn't have to wait two more turns for people food treats. She's used to the normal distribution pattern - senior dog, puptard, ratdog, senior dog... and so on.
In other news...remember Little Broke Dog? We've been calling in and checking on his status. He went up for adoption on Wednesday, and when I called the shelter yesterday, they told me he'd been adopted that morning.
It always makes us happy when homeless dogs get adopted, so bravo for whoever out there has a nice new dog.
24 November 2007
I cleaned the bathroom the other day. They sell that shower spray, but you know, just spraying that around after each shower does not mean you never have to clean beyond that. Who'd'a thunk it?
Anyway, inspired by my shower scrubbing, vanity beautifying frenzy the other day, Mister Abby decided to take his day off (yesterday) and do the floors. We have tile throughout, so it's not that hard, but, like the shower, it actually must be done periodically.
So he swept, and he ran the vacuum, and then he mopped. Mopped a couple of times. It looked nice. Smelled kinda funny, but that was really the result of an unfortunate choice in cleaning products during a recent shopping trip (Pine Sol lemon smells like wet cat pee, it seems).
So we had a nice, clean expanse of floor.
Then we woke up to rain and a wild pack of dogs who were playing in the yard, then racing back in through the dog door. Leaving smeared muddy prints everywhere.
I secured the dog door, but I think the damage has been done. Poor Mr. Abby.
I shall now take him to the exchange and buy him some boot socks or something to take his mind off the floor.
Posted by Abby at 10:27
23 November 2007
Not so much, at my little salt mine. Rumor has it Big Retail did well, though, but I don't pay much attention.
The guy who sits next to me at work took calls throughout the day from his mother, who had started shopping at midnight. It turned into a passtime for all of us - where is coworker's Mom?
She started out here in the DFW area, was in Waco by the afternoon, and I think she may be in Mexico City by now. Rio by morning.
I love Christmas, but I cannot stand this shopping madness.
Posted by Abby at 21:14
22 November 2007
Hey, that goose was pretty good. I'm happy with that.
You know how they say there's no white meat on a goose? By God, they're right. Since white meat is normally a dry and foul thing, I think that's pretty cool.
Anybody else in Northeast Texas get snowed on today? Also a pretty cool occurance. Nothing stuck, of course, but it was still neat.
Posted by Abby at 21:21
Well, we know how that all turned out with the Lions.
Mom commented in on the first post today, but she's out serving chow to the hungry with World's Coolest Grandma today.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was, honestly, another day of Deer Season. As a family, we'd maybe go to a movie, or get Chinese food. The big family turkey thing was for either the Sunday before or after. Shiftwork is what it is, and we worked around it.
Then Thanksgiving got crazy.
I went downrange, and we went out on Thanksgiving, and things went bad.
Then there was last year, when I went home to be there while Mom could fight Breast Cancer. (She won, too. She beat the living shit out of Breast Cancer - I am beyond proud).
The Mister hurt himself, and Mom had surgery, and I ate turkey and was thankful that I was there to do so.
This year...no drama. No so much on the craziness.
Looking toward next year, it's hard to tell.
I am not a religious person. But...
Thank you for this year. Thank you for the improvement over last year. Thank you for watching over me two years ago. I am thankful for those who are not where they wish they were this Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of those folks for whom is is just another day of service.
Posted by Abby at 15:09
The Detroit-Green Bay is on, but...umm...watching it is proving painful. So we're going to pretend that's not happening.
I went out for a smoke. The Dog Guests, who have been a having a bit of confusion about the dog door, decided to come out with me. A good thing, right? Well, apparently that door is trickier than I thought.
Jack pointed out to the Mister that our guests seemed confused. He passed the camera out to me.
Fortunately, outside waited the helpful input of Casey. She's old, she's cranky, she cannot understand how the dog door could be confusing.
We finally resolved the issue with a combination of shoving and dragging. Now everybody is sacked out on the floor, with at least one eye on the progress of the goose.
Posted by Abby at 13:57
So. The goose is in progress. We googled "goose," and apparently the tricky thing is de-greasing the goose sufficiently. I put it on a rack, poked a few holes hither and yon to expedite draining, and cooked it uncovered 22.5 minutes on a side at 375.
This yielded grease. Lots of grease.
This is an 11-pound goose, folks, and that's two cups of fat.
Now it's wrapped up with herbs and onions and goodness, so we'll see in a few hours.
The dogs are waiting like vultures, hoping the goose goes very badly indeed. The herding dogs and Sparky are waiting patiently, but the shiny black labs...well...not so much on the patience.
Posted by Abby at 13:00
20 November 2007
We're watching a friend's dogs while she's out of town for the Thanksgiving Turkey Ritual.
I have five dogs running around. Mine, a female black lab a few months younger than Jack, and an Australian shepherd a little more than a year old.
I'd post pictures, but I'm writing this while huddled in a closet, whimpering.
Posted by Abby at 20:44
is the one who does NOT get to go running with me. I have to run for time next month, so I figured I should plot a course and get an idea of where I was. This pretty much ruled out taking Puptard.
So this morning I got dressed and put on my running shoes, and he started doing backflips, and then I slammed the door in his face.
I think we can safely assume he's going to eat all my stuff while I'm gone. Retaliation is a mother around here.
Off to ensure the gunsafe is locked and all shoes are in our room.
18 November 2007
Finally got the Garand out to the local range. The place was packed, but it was a nice day for it.
I was shooting at Alpine and, like most ranges right around here, they're anti-FMJ ammo, so I had to pick up another box of 150 grain softpoint.
The older gentleman behind the counter was helpful, after we got on the samge page.
"Need targets?" he asked.
"Yes, please. And if you have a large target, that would be nice. I have a new gun."
"You boresight it yet?" This, folks, is the part where doubt crept in.
Boresighting is a process wherein you line up the crosshairs on a newly mounted scope with the barrel (or "bore") of your rifle. You can do it Old Skool and simply remove the bolt from a bolt-action rifle and line up the crosshairs with what you see peering down the barrel, or you can get all high-tech and use a laser device stuck in either your chamber or in the barrel of your rifle. You can save a lot of time, energy and ammo that way.
I've never heard of anyone boresighting with iron sights, but you know, logically, it could be done.
This whole thought process resulted in me standing in front of the gentleman at the counter like an idiot for several seconds before saying, "no."
He pointed out that they could do that for me for $5, but I declined and pointed out that I was not using a scope.
"I've got a new Garand," I explained. "Well, an old Garand, but new to me."
Only at this point did the gentleman behind the counter decide I was not a maniac, and that, in fact, I should hear all about his Garand-related experiences. He was a nice guy, so that was fine, but I did finally have to break away while there was still daylight outside.
Ladies and gentlemen, to paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy, this looks like a good time no matter who you are.
And it is a good time, oh yes. The poor gentleman several benches down from me with his deer rifle was a good sport until after shot number eight, when the ping and clatter of the clip hitting the concrete made him look over with great concern.
"Is everything okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," I giggled. "That's a good sign."
I started out low, and slowly adjusted. After getting pretty close, it became clear to me that I don't think I've got the rear sight tensioned correctly. This will either require much reading, or a pathetic call to Charley.
But in good news, it shoots realiably and straight, and works wonderfully as a conversation starter. And since it works, I'm now all about getting a good sling (leaning on Santa about that issue - tan and numbered, if you're reading, Santa), figuring out the rear sight, and then finding somewhere where I can back off the target a little more.
17 November 2007
but it allows me to peruse the news.
Which occasionally makes you feel good about your life choices. For instance, it was not at my house where Oregon Police Find 8 Dogs in Freezer, 24 Running Loose While Serving Child Porn Warrant
Lt. Jim Anglemier says investigators today found two dozen poodles running loose or in cages, some near death. Eight puppies were found dead in a freezer.
That, for instance, makes me feel okay about having three dogs running loose, and only some sausage, frozen veggies and lemonade concentrate in my freezer.
Anglemier says trash was strewn throughout the place and dog feces were caked on the floor, beds and clothes. The odor was so strong, that some detectives needed to wear breathing respirators.
And although there may be "dog feces" in my backyard, and possibly even "caked on" a pair of sandals, it is not caked on the floor, bed or clothes.
Sometimes you just need a pick-me-up, and the horribleness of others can provide it.
Posted by Abby at 16:02
15 November 2007
...and it's a bummer.
I love Blackhawk. I've used their thigh rigs (I roll, when forced, with an Omega), and I like them. I scored one of their range bags on clearance, and it rocks.
(If you don't cruise the Blackhawk clearance section, you lose. Great gear, great prices.)
Anyway, I was checking them out a few days ago, and clicked over to "new products" or "pending products."
And found this.
“At Blackhawk we get up every morning dedicated to using our resources to help save lives,” explained Noell. “When medics and doctors that deal with combat and tactical medical needs see the system, they at once understand the immediate life saving potential. Four tourniquets in the pants and four tourniquets in the shirt (two in the short sleeve version), correctly positioned and oriented to the upper and lower extremities, are immediately accessible under existing gear and can be operated by the wearer, their buddy, or a medic.
Heh. That's only laughable if you've never given serious thought to rolling out the gate with a tourniquet on each limb, and not done it only because your unit didn't have enough to pull it off.
Dear Santa, this year, all I want for Christmas is for all the warriors to keep all their limbs.
Posted by Abby at 23:00
I'm tuned into the Democratic debate on CNN, but this is requiring the consumption of beers, so I won't....
who is this freakin' Marine who is letting his mother trot him out to yap about our future policy in Iran?
Alright. Nevermind. I'm just going to watch, and drink, and not blog about politics.
Posted by Abby at 20:23
I took off down the road at a blistering trot this morning, with my trusty shiny black running buddy doing his best to drag me. Glancing over into the neighbor’s yard, I noted a small dog there.
Huh, I thought. They don’t have a dog. I trotted on.
I swung out onto the trail behind the house and picked up the pace from trot to painfully slow shuffle. I was just settling in when one of the other morning regulars, a gentleman of maybe 70 years or so, flagged me down.
“Have you seen a dog that might have been hit by a car this morning?” he asked.
I shared that I’d seen a small dog in the neighbor’s yard and didn’t know the story behind it. The old man continued on his way, and I continued on mine. Jack and I finished our run (poorly), after we were forced to take two pee breaks and one poop break. None of these, I point out, were for my benefit.
As we passed the neighbor’s house, I noted the small dog was still in the yard. Startled by a large truck passing, he got up, and I could see he was holding a rear leg off the ground. Ahh…the injured dog.
I shoved Jack in the house, found a phone, and went back outside. He was gimping at a good pace, headed back into the open area behind our row of houses. I called the animal people, since they pick up injured critters. And if it was my injured dog, I’d want whoever saw it to call it in.
After letting them know the dog’s description, condition and location, I went out in the back yard to scoop some poo. As I finished, it occurred to me that the little gimp may have been wandering toward the busy road. Taking a cup of coffee out the front door, I went walkabout around the perimeter. There, on the strip of grass the separates our side fence from the busy road, was Injured Dog.
I placed my coffee cup in the grass and said, “hey, come here.” And he did. I looked him over, seeing an obvious case of road rash on the right back leg. “You going to bite me if I pick you up?”
He looked at me, and I scratched his ears. I scooped him up, and rather than flail or bite, he snuggled up against me, shivering. I carried him into the garage – he only weighed maybe 12-14 pounds. I made him a little bed out of a towel and an old sheet, then went in and called the Broken Animal Division of the local PD.
“Hey, this is Abby. I called earlier about an injured dog in the area. I found him next to my house, and he’s in my garage.”
I handed him off when the Broken Animal Lady showed up (I want her job). She looked at him, “We’ll get you to the vet for some good drugs!” She looked at me, “He looks like a pit bull puppy, but he’s got adult teeth. I don’t know. I hope he’s not a pit – because…well, we don’t adopt out pits. We’d have to put him down.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I hope not, too. He seems like a nice little guy, and I think he might be an adult.”
There was a collective shrug, and she carted off the little injured guy.
I hope he does okay, and I hope the verdict is not “too much pitbull,” because he sure seemed like a sweetie. Honestly, I’d be inclined to think he was more of a smaller terrier, but I’m not sure what sort that would be.
Posted by Abby at 13:29
14 November 2007
...when the Mister is out of town. Last night's dinner - tuna sandwich and root beer. Tonight? Polska kielbasa and a pot of coffee.
The downside? He normally gets home first and the dogs do their major spazz at that point. When he's gone, they have to amuse themselves an extra 90 minutes or so (for a grand total of nine hours of time during which nobody is fussing over them).
I thought someone had been doling out cocaine dog biscuits by the time I came through the door.
Posted by Abby at 19:12
13 November 2007
Does anybody want to read several paragraphs on why I'm thrilled to have new checks from my new bank? No? I didn't think so.
Interested in another breathless discussion of the whole Supreme Court Parker vs. DC possible pending potential maybe-gonna-happen decision? I really don't want to write it - sorry. Go here - it's done very well.
I thought about writing about the desecration of what sounded like a very nice veteran's memorial in the Kansas City area - but it was so soul-sucking that I decided to let it lie.
I guess I shall just head off to work and hope to run into, rather than a non-merging DFW driver, a metaphorical caution cone of inspiration.
Posted by Abby at 22:08
12 November 2007
A few years ago, I went to Madagascar with World's Coolest Grandmother, my Mom and one of Mom's Nursing Buddies.
One night, we were camping...somewhere. We'd been out trudging through a national forest in the dark, spotting lemurs with our flashlights by looking for eyeshine. This was highly cool, since some of the lemurs were inclined to leap around in the treetops, and you could follow their eyes.
Our guide seemed pleasantly surprised that four women from somewhere called "Michigan" were really, really good at spotting glowing eyes, and had no clue what we meant when we explained that years of looking out for roadside deer had left us very hip to shining eyes.
We returned to our camp, and Maurice (the guide) wanted to point out just one more very cool thing. He shined his flashlight around the tall grass in the clearing, revealing dozens of bright, shining points.
I, foolishly, had always assumed this was drops of dew. But I was wrong.
They were spider eyes. The eyes of what we call here Wolf Spider. Dozens and dozens of sets of spider eyes in that one patch of grass.
I shined my light around now when I'm out at night, and I really, really regret that I know what all those shiny points in the grass and on tree trunks are.
(image above courtesy of SpiderzRule.com, a very nice site owned by one of those odd people who really believe that all spiders are not vicious and evil)
Posted by Abby at 19:42
And a public thanks to Texas State Trooper Harn (or Hearn? Or Hern? - his handwriting sucks), who passed up the opportunity to hit the Mister with a decent speeding ticket at mile marker 583 this morning and let us proceed with a warning. Even though we were filthy and smelled like a campfire.
Appreciated, Trooper. And yes, we kept the speed much more reasonable for the remainder of the trip.
Question for any of my LE-types out there - is it normal now for an officer to approach the passenger window during a side-of-the-highway stop? It seems like a good idea (that is, the officer does not have to stand on the same side as traffic), but I don't think I've seen it done like that before. It's sorta awkward, though. I mean, I'm in the passenger seat, and although I understand the officer needs to speak to the driver, it seems rather rude for me to ignore him.
I opted to go with the "good morning, sir," then just leaned back and ignored him. Which must not have been too offensive.
Posted by Abby at 18:05
And, yet again, all the happy little animals of the area where we hunted are safely still in their homes, distinctly unshot. Hell, they were distinctly unseen. Fortunately, we are easily pleased, and a weekend in a tent with a campfire was just dandy, even if we did get skunked.
However, things did get a little horrifying yesterday evening when I was perched in my tree stand, waiting for that last magical hour fading light when, according to people who occasionally hunt successfully, animals come out and walk around and are easy to shoot. I looked left, noted something moving on my arm.
Ick! Green hairy spider about the size of nickel. Brushed it off, continued to sit, and wait. Was mildly creeped out, but carried on. These things happen in the great outdoors.
Looked right...there was another green hairy spider about the same size hanging out on my right arm. Brush/fling...I was safe, but disturbed.
I caught another one on my arm, then one on my back, then I climbed down out of my treestand and got the hell away from that tree.
Edit to add: I guess there aren't any images of this critter on the internet. Just your standard jumping spider, it seems, but white and green. [shudders]
I dislike spiders, and I dislike hairy ones especially (hair should be reserved for mammals).
Posted by Abby at 17:03
10 November 2007
09 November 2007
This time, without the help of the US Army.
The truck is loaded, the Bad Dogs have a reservation at Dog Camp, and we are duly licensed. That's right - we're off to attempt to fill the freezer.
Ok, Mom, you can stop laughing now. We have so got this hunting in Texas thing figured out. It's going to a smashing success.
Unless there's an unexpected source of unsecured wireless acress out in the sticks of east Texas, we won't be posting until Monday.
Posted by Abby at 23:01
It’s not that I don’t love you all – I’m just lazy. And the insanity level has been high.
The Mister came home last night to two big dogs, no small dog, all the interior doors open, and a city police officer’s card on the counter.
Long story short, it appears I neglected to throw the deadbolt in the front door when Jack and I came back from running yesterday morning. It further appears that sometime between 0940 (when I leave for work) and 1015, the front door went from closed-but-not-locked to wide-freakin’-open.
Not a thing was missing from the house, but all my dogs were milling about the apartment complex parking lot across the busy road from my house.
My theory is that someone watched me leave, then tried the front door. My Bad Dogs appear to have earned their keep and chased the potential thief away.
Cops returned the big dogs to the house. Sparky wasn’t wearing his collar, so he went to Doggy Jail, where the Mister picked him up after work.
The front door is now, of course, locked. I was sorely tempted to leave in a normal and conspicuous manner, then park nearby and walk back in through the backyard and wait in the house for visitors. However, I think that my canine sidekicks have discouraged unwanted visitors for the time being.
Posted by Abby at 10:39
07 November 2007
I was cruising the internet today, wasting my employer’s time and money, looking at Wilderness Tactical Belts. I like the titanium ones, and I think I might spring for one the next time I play Army for an extended period.
You got your people who love all this odd, tactical crap. Loves our pouches, and our carabiners, high-dollar flashlights, and all that. Have been heard to utter phrases like, “flat dark earth is the new black!” You will hear these folks referred to in less-polite company as Gear Queers.
Then you’ve got your crazy dog people. That’s those of us who have all the sizes of the Cuz toys, and a collapsible water bowl in each vehicle.
As I was clicking around the Wilderness Tactical website, I found the strangest thing. I found an item that can satisfy both the impulses of the Gear Queer and the needs of the Crazy Dog Person at the same time.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Wilderness Tactical Kong Belt Pouch!
Constructed of tough 1000 denier Cordura® with a signature Wilderness quick-detachable wraparound belt loop. The wide, stay-open mouth is reinforced to allow easy retrieval, yet affords a secure housing for the kong or other reward treat. Available in black.
You don’t need to thank me – I’m here to help you out with those hard-to-buy-for folks on your Christmas lists!
Posted by Abby at 17:18
I was out cleaning up the yard in the morning light, and found this disturbing array back behind the pool.
Good lord. I apologize for the poor quality of the picture - I had to use my phone because the real camera temporarily MIA. Either the Mister took it on his road trip, or they've stolen that, too.
Discussion of stock work on the M1 this evening. There's a possibility I'm actually going to have time to shoot it this weekend, so I'm quite excited.
Posted by Abby at 08:58
06 November 2007
I'm blaming this lethargic melancholy on the time change. Or maybe it's melancholic lethargy. Either way, I've been dragging around the past couple days feeling mildly grumpy about not much of anything.
Then again, it might be because the Mister is out of town (in the military sense), and I seem to spend every moment I'm awake and in the house collecting the socks and other objects Jack is dragging around.
You know, I've been trying to work on this whole thing where you exercise your dog, and so then they're like all calm and mellow and nice to have around, right?
That's a giant load of crap. You know what exercise has done for my little puptard? I have a really really fit Bad Dog. He's like a damn triathlete. Jump on the dining room table? No problem! Streeeetch way up to pull the household copy of FMFM 6-5, The Marine Rifle Squad, off the book shelf? No problem! Race tirelessly around and around and around the yard with my favorite pair of boot socks? No problem!
(This is of course an entirely separate issue than trying to figure out why, of all the books on the shelf, he wanted that one. Is he plotting something? A coup?)
05 November 2007
This whole time change thing catches me off guard every year. I walked out of the office tonight and it was dark.
Temps are still nice here (although the Texans tell me it shall soon be cold - colder than you can imagine, they promise, because this is Texas, and everything is more something than one could ever imagine, it seems).
But I grew up in the north, when the time change was the final nail in the coffin for the year. There was no going back, it was hibernation season, and you were going to be hunkered down and cold for months. Although I like winter, it was always a bit of a downer when the dark started falling early.
So, for some reason, I was made grumpy by walking out into the darkness tonight. In a few days it will seem normal and the spring time change will feel decadent, like we're getting too much light.
Posted by Abby at 18:57
04 November 2007
Well, that was fun.
Postive things about camping with the Army:
1 - it's camping with lots of guns
2 - lots of group lifting and shouting in the early morning hours
3 - there's always coffee
4 - no dogs stealing your socks
5 - boots, boots, boots
Not positive things about camping with the Army:
1 - 0500 is not a decent hour for anything other than fishing
2 - cots
3 - not allowed to shoot giant deer seen near the M9 range
4 - $5 zillion in communications gear, and we're using walkie-talkies from WalMart because they're the only things that work
5 - general disapproval of addressing officers as "dude."
01 November 2007
Slow day at the office, until my ass vibrated at 5:55. Whipped out the phone, had a text message from the Mister.
Dogs out loose. Found boys. Missing Casey. Getting laundry then continuing search.
At 5:55:43, I punched out, and was enroute home.
The last half-mile was the worst - we live on the corner of a busy road and a cul de sac and I really, really didn't want to find my dog on the side of that busy road.
Got home to find the mister in the road with the super-ancient neighbor who had seen them go through the front window. He had, using his walker, corralled Jack and was wrestling him up the driveway when the Mister arrived home. Dude cannot really walk and I have never seen him past his driveway, and he was out rescuing my retards.
That left Casey.
I lost my childhood dog to a busy road years ago, and that was all I could think of. The Mister went in the house to listen to messages (the house number is on the tags) while I hit the road.
Not 200 yards from the house, my ass vibrated again.
"Found her." I flipped around and headed home to find him on the phone with a woman around a mile away who had my girl in her backyard. We drove over and found a middle-aged lady in scrubs, whose son, after school, had pointed out that he'd found a rather hairy friend while playing football in the yard.
[insert giant sigh of relief]
They're back. The screen has been replaced and the window is now closed over it. We owe the neighbors a cup of coffee and a game of cribbage.
31 October 2007
So I see the State Department is having some trouble filling some of its not-exactly-Paris posts.
And so the Department is telling its employees to fill posts in Iraq, rather than asking them. Not surprisingly, some agency employees are less than thrilled about that.
"It is one thing if someone believes in what is going on over there and volunteers," [State Dept. veteran Jack Croddy] said, "but it is another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment. And I'm sorry, but basically that is a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or wounded?"
Y'all will please forgive me if I'm not weeping along with these whining turds, won't you?
Goodness gracious - you have a job with U.S. State Department (which doesn't pay all that badly), which at one point or another you applied for. Then, when you got that job, you did have a little oath you signed off on (all Executive Branch employees do this - I did it for my position with the Furry Critter Management Agency).
Most of the 250 jobs to be filled in the next rotation over the coming months will go to volunteers, he said. But about 50 remain open.
The State Department has relied solely on volunteers to fill overseas jobs in recent decades. Forced assignments have not been used since the Vietnam War era.
"We cannot shrink from our duty. We have all agreed to worldwide availability," [FS Director General] Thomas said.
So out of all the Foreign Service employees out there, 50 are going to be ordered to serve in Iraq.
Let's just do a quick review - certain things come with the territory. If you work for the State Department's Foreign Service, you can expect that all sorts of things are on the table. This includes lions, natives, war, people who hate America, being held hostage, having eggs thrown at you, getting malaria and shortages of American dairy products. All on the table.
Further, nobody is forcing anybody to go anywhere.
Those chosen will be given 10 days to respond, according to last week's announcement.
Unless they have a valid medical reason to refuse, those who decline to go could face dismissal, it said.
Welcome to real life, whiny State Department employees. You've got good jobs, and you can either serve where you are ordered to serve, or you can go find another good job somewhere else.
What I think I find most disappointing about this story, beyond the sheer lack of character revealed by public whining, is that it undermines my blissfully uninformed opinion about Foreign Service types.
I like to think of these folks trooping gamely around the world, having pet monkeys, drinking gin and playing polo. Perhaps I need to stop reading historic novels about the British Empire.
Posted by Abby at 19:27
From the Bad Dogs! We're all set for Trick or Treaters here, although I don't know how many we'll get.
I thought I had it all under control.
But then Mr. Abby was all like, no...scare the parents...blah blah blah...police...blah blah blah....paperwork....
SO we ended up using Plan B, which doesn't appeal to me quite as much, but which he promises will go over better with the neighbors.
Yes, he did buy sugar-free gum. God love him.
Posted by Abby at 19:02
30 October 2007
One of our fine North Texas residents held an impromptu class on how not to carry a concealed handgun today.
After arriving at work, the man draped his jacket over the back of his chair, [Lake Worth Police Chief] McGuire said. The .45-caliber automatic was in the left jacket pocket.
As the man got settled in his chair, the gun discharged, McGuire said.
The man was likely doing something to the weapon when it fired because "that particular weapon doesn't just sit there and go off," McGuire said.
The bullet passed through the man's left leg and then his right leg and through the corner of a bookcase before lodging in the wall of a cubicle occupied by a startled female co-worker, McGuire said.
"Startled female co-worker?" Yeah, I'd say so. It seems that the shooter/shootee was not licensed to carry a concealed handgun, but there are no indications he was plotting anything foul.
We also note the police chief pointed out that "particular weapon doesn't just sit there and go off." That, friends, is why they should list specifics. I want to make sure my .45s aren't the ones that do "just sit there and go off."
In other news, a local trucker erred on the side of caution when he warned police that they might be a bit taken aback by his freight when they searched his vehicle during a routine traffic stop.
Police in Royse City hope that a routine early-morning traffic stop Sunday won't become a Halloween tale, even though the tractor-trailer was carrying an estimated 20 human heads.
The rig was stopped for speeding at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 30 in Royse City, said Lt. Jim Baker, police spokesman. ...
The driver was acting suspicious, Baker said, so officers asked permission to search the vehicle, Baker said.
But, he said, the driver warned them first.
"He said, "You're going to see some body parts back there,''' Baker said.
The heads, apparently, were being transported either to or from some sort of legitimate medical research facility.
The driver did not have his paperwork in order, but once he got it all squared away by fax, the local police let him proceed on his way. Because really, playing games with the severed head guy is really only fun for a little while.
Posted by Abby at 22:54
We know there are brave Sailors running around Iraq and Afghanistan, but for the most part it's an Army and Marine Corps show.
So it's nice to see the Navy getting down with its bad self.
American warships battled pirates Tuesday who had seized a tanker off the coast of Somalia as well as another vessel northeast of Mogadishu, combined reports said.
In the waters off Somalia, the warships reportedly sunk two pirate vessels and pursued a hijacked skiff carrying some of the fleeing hijackers.
That's our Navy - while everybody else is engaging in a no-fun grinding series of insurgent conflicts, they're killing pirates.
It's no Battle of Leyte Gulf, but actions like the Navy's are vitally important in what is probably the least-recognized theater of operations in the Global War on Terror.
Whether or not the warships engaged in pirate sinkin' today were technically, at that moment, acting as part of Joint Task Force Horn Of Africa (JTF-HOA), is not immediately apparent. However, that JTF is doing the hard work now that will prevent the rest of our military from having to do ugly work in the region later.
They're training troops, supporting communities and building infrastructure in a very touchy area in an effort to deny that territory to Al Qaeda. A lot of that is medical outreach and school building in those nations. And some it is law-and-order work.
Which includes whacking pirates off the coast of Somalia. So, Go Navy! Keep killing pirates - in addition to being a vital part of the war effort, it's really damn cool.
28 October 2007
We all know the Official Bad Dog Position on Children - they're necessary, but not particularly enjoyable. However, we have also recognized that if one happens to have children, one must make a good, honest effort to ensure nothing godawful happens to them.
Which brings us to this new story - Baby Drowns In Bucket Of Bleach
A 9-month-old Quincy girl drowned Saturday morning after she climbed into a bucket filled with bleach, the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office said.
The Boston Herald reported that the baby’s mother Lee Ann Auperlee, 20, was watching three children inside her Sumner Street apartment when her daughter Mya crawled out of her sight and into a bucket on the kitchen floor.
Now, again, I don't have any children of my own, and the stepweasels were past bucket-drowning age by the time they started hanging around with me. Nonetheless, I am aware that babies are somewhat prone to die, and thus one has to take certain precautions if babies are in the area.
Theses precautions, as I understand it, include (but are not limited to):
no loaded firearms on the floor,
no knives on the floor,
no razor blades on the floor,
not leaving them alone in a bath,
not leaving them in a car with the windows up on a hot day,
not leaving them in a car with the windows down in the winter,
no leaving them unsupervised with packs of strange dogs,
no rat poison on the floor,
no gin in their bottles,
no access to hazardous substances,
no unsupervised time with liquids deeper than .5 inches,
no unsupervised time with buckets of hazardhouse liquids.
Good lord, people. Do not leave your crawling baby with access to a big old bucket of bleach. That doesn't take a rocket scientist.
Curran said Auperlee told her the baby was in the living room just before the drowning.
“She said Mya was tapping at the TV then she just crawled away toward the kitchen,” Curran said.
No charges have been filed by police. Toxicology and other tests are still pending.
Poor child. We disapprove.
Posted by Abby at 19:07
The evil CMP Sales Update email arrived today.
The last time this happened, I was forced to order a Garand. The time before that, an M1 carbine.
Needless to say, I opened it with no small amount of dread - what fiendish plot, I wondered, could they have come up with to make me spend even more money?
Garand receivers and barrels...don't need those. Sights for .22s...don't need those. Rack grade M1 carbines...tempting...but I don't need one of those, either.
I feel so morally superior for resisting all that temptation that I think I should be allowed to order a field grade Garand.
[ducks as Mister Abby throws a coffee cup at my head]
Okay, maybe I'll hold off on the field grade another month or so.
27 October 2007
Here's a head-scratcher for all my armed folks out there - Blind Man Shoots Home Intruder In Neck
Of course, it happened in Florida.
The 75-year-old retired taxi dispatcher, who's been legally blind for the past 61 years, opened fire on the would-be-thief who kicked down his door, police said.
Police said Williams shot Curtis, who tried to flee but collapsed on the front porch, inthe left side of the neck. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
As we know, every time one of these home-invading vermin is shot, it's cause for celebration. And, of course, as a good Second Amendment supporter, I'm all about everyone having the right to defend his or her home and life.
But you know...I'm really hoping that the phrase "legally blind" means this dude could see at least a little. 'Cause otherwise, frankly, that's a little scary. Glad it turned out well and all, but still....
26 October 2007
I was on the road all day.
Just a quick thought, after 585 highway miles with Texans.
Why can't these people merge? The roads are nice and big, and the drivers are pretty friendly. But when it comes to changing lanes at any speed above "crawl," the default Texan reaction seems to be panic. Or drive-into-guardrail, which significantly delayed my return time.
For the love of God - Miami residents can merge at 95 mph (and Miami residents are generally performing voodoo rituals or swapping out their oxygen bottles while merging) - can't Texans do it at like...55?
Posted by Abby at 21:59
25 October 2007
Okay. You've been warned.
From here in lovely Texas, we have - Pit Bulls Kill Miniature Horse Donated To Cancer-Stricken Child
That really gives you the salient details right there. Boy with cancer is given miniature horse, which is then killed by pit bulls. Downer.
AMARILLO -- A miniature horse given to a boy with brain cancer by the Make-A-Wish Foundation was killed by a pair of pit bulls who were found roaming in his yard, authorities said.
The 31-inch tall horse, Anniversary, was donated by the foundation to 3-year-old Christian Vasquez in late August.
Christian, who was diagnosed in January with a malignant form of brain cancer, received a pull cart, a blanket, a halter and a bridle set from the foundation on Saturday, said Jelaine Workman, executive director for the foundation's Amarillo chapter.
The dogs chased the boy's father up a tree, where he managed to call police on his cell phone (one of the few really good reasons I've heard lately to carry a cell phone). One dog was captured, the other escaped and is at large. No word on anyone who may have owned the dogs.
Workman said the foundation won't be able to supply a second horse but was getting calls from residents who wanted to donate money for a new one.
Anniversary [the horse] cost $1,300, and the foundation included free feed, training and veterinary care for a year in its gift.
On that cheery note, we'll end this.
Posted by Abby at 21:39