'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

30 June 2012

Tour De France

It's time for the Tour De France again. Ok, I admit it. I'm a fan. I'll spend way more time over the next three weeks watching skinny men ride bicycles up ginormous mountains than I should. Lu and I have been following the Tour for a decade now. We've seen it go from a doping contest to something where any good rider can hope to win. 2173 miles divided up into flat, mountainous and time trial stages. It's the biggest race of the season and the one all the professional riders want to show well in.

Last year Cadel Evans, a good man and a great rider, captured the top spot. This year? I think the field is as wide open as it's ever been. The sports efforts to weed out the cheating has paid off in races that are actually races as opposed to showcases for those willing to bend the rules farthest.

My pick this year? I'm going with Cadel again. He seems to be in about the same place, conditioning and preparation wise, as he was last year. I also think he's got the strongest team and the best support staff. He's a man who can do it all and he has a great heart. Besides, I just like him. His biggest competition will probably come from Bradley Wiggins who dominated while winning the Tour De Suisse  Criterium Du Dauphine just a few weeks ago. Frank Schleck finds himself without his brother Andy to help and on a team that is in the process of destroying itself. I'm picking Sagan over Cavendish in the green jersey points competition and I'm even picking him to spank the Manx Missile in the sprints.

The best Americans should be Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner. Neither will win but either could find themselves on the podium which would be a fine showing this year. Look for TJ Van Garderen to take the white jersey as the best young rider (under 26 years old) which would be a fantastic result for this very young and coming rider. TJ will eventually be a contender in this race.

As I write this the Prologue is done and both Evans and Wiggins are perfectly placed for Stage 1. Fabulous Fabian Cancellara won as expected but both Leipheimer and Horner didn't do too well. Van Garderen is in white (I'm a genius!). We'll just have to see. It's a very long race.

Ok, enough bicycle geekery for now.


29 June 2012

The Hurricane JB's Big Boy And Raw Chicken. An Adventure in Dining and Salmonella.

Dear JB's, Hurricane Utah branch, Manager.

I went to your fine dining establishment this afternoon for a nice lunch with my lovely wife. She had the salad bar and I had the Chicken Fried Chicken sandwich because I'm a guy and I'll eat most anything chicken fried. I say most anything because I did in fact discover something today that is both chicken fried and completely inedible. And that something is your Chicken Fried Chicken sandwich with the raw chicken center.

The problems here are manifold. First, the outer fried texture combined with the cooked outer section led me to believe the meat was in fact properly cooked. So much so that I took a nice, healthy bite right out of the center of the sandwich without a care in the world. I thought the bite tasted a bit 'off' though so, as I was swallowing that large bite, I examined things a bit more carefully. Imagine my surprise to find that the center of the chicken breast was uncooked. Raw in fact. Not raw in the sense that it was hot but not quite cooked thoroughly. No no no. I'm talking about just above cold from the refrigerator raw. Salmonella raw.

Second. When that happens, and in any restaurant something like this is always a possibility, don't then send out the waitress to apologize for the error on behalf of the pimple faced, minimum wage cook who was sooo sure it was really really done and everything and then ask me if I want another one just like it or would I prefer to see the menu again. Come yourself, apologize abjectly for your failure and beg my forgiveness. I've just eaten raw chicken from your kitchen, half measures at this point will probably be frowned upon.

Third. When I have so declined and indicated that I have inexplicably lost my appetite don't then send her back out to tell me that if I get sick to call and ask for you by name because you really do care. And for @#$%ing sure do not present me with a bill. Oh I know she deducted the raw chicken sandwich from the bill but there's a thing in your business one usually employs in these circumstances. Pay attention here. It's called 'Comping.' Comping is when you and your staff have screwed up royally and you need to try and make things right and maybe not have an angry customer leave with an upset stomach and a strong desire to warn others away from your eating establishment and maybe sue you into penury. It is the polite and more importantly the right thing to do. For the $7.82 that we left for my wife's salad bar you have lost anything I may have spent with you over the years plus the money from others I will relate this little story to.

Fourth. People die from eating raw chicken. If you would like to prevent this from happening and perhaps keep you and your restaurant from being sued you might want to give your cooks a little training in the whole chicken cooking thing. I'm a fair cook myself (and in fact worked as a cook for JB's for a few years back in high school) so if you're strapped for assistance in that endeavor just ask me. At this point I'd be happy to school your staff to ensure no one else bites down on another chicken and bacteria sandwich. That's also something you might care to relate to me, the afflicted customer as well. The whole "I'll make sure nothing like this ever happens again. I swear!" thing.

I never forget and seldom forgive. And remember, you're famous now and the internet is indeed forever.

And now I must go. I'm feeling a bit queasy and the porcelain throne is calling out for the contents of my stomach. But hey, at least you made a cool eight bucks today. I hope that is a comfort to you as I puke my guts out from the results of your incompetence.

On the other hand, knowing I have my ambulance chasing lawyer on speed dial will be for me. Something to think on?


28 June 2012

Why I Will Vote For Mitt Romney

The ruling is in. SCOTUS has upheld obamacare with some provisions but keeping in the individual mandate as a tax. I just watched Romney stating, in no uncertain terms, that he will repeal it on his first day in office. Ok then, game on.

We got here by decades of incrementalization. A long, slow eroding of our sovereignty and basic freedom. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. Such led directly what we saw today. Well, it works both ways. I am now a single issue voter and that issue is obamacare.

I was actually skulling over a post yesterday in which I would argue that the cold civil war would never become hot. There was simply no way that we could ever come to the point that another 'shot heard 'round the world' could happen again. But today I recognize that there is indeed such a way and this ruling is half of that formula. The other half comes this November when we go to the polls to decide whether obama gets a second term or not.

There are those out there, some who I admire and greatly respect, who would say "Good. Bring it on and get it over with." I am not in that camp. In fact I reject that line of reasoning absolutely. Now is the time to begin incrementalization on our side. Now is the time to begin the long, slow restoration of a representative republic as our founding fathers envisioned it. Now is the time for all good men and women to rise up and say No More. This far and no farther. Now is the time to elect a Republican president who will once and for all banish this abortion to the trash heap where it belongs. Now is the time, God help me, to elect Mitt Romney President.

I know, I know. I've heard and read all the arguments. Mitt is an elite, more concerned with power than individual American freedoms. Mitt will simply preside over a slower eradication of freedom than obama and the dems. Nothing will change except the whip holders political affiliation.

But the fly in that ointment is us. It's been said many times that all politics are local politics. Look no further than the formation of the Tea Party to see the truth in that. The Tea Party that was formed in the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the first place. We responded in the 2010 election and we must be heard again this year. In that is our salvation and the answer to any ideas that Mitt may have about accommodation with the left. Congressional and Senate elections. If we get those right, if we make sure we send only those who believe in America to DC, then we can exercise local control over national politics. It's up to us, where we must now recognize it should have been all along. We cannot rely on 9 men and women in black robes to rescue us and safeguard our basic freedoms. We can, indeed we must, take the reins of power back into our own hands to ensure the future of our children and grandchildren. And the first step is the 2012 elections.

So. I will support, contribute time and money to and vote for Mitt Romney for President in 2012. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Like some of you I have seen violent death, not wholesale but on a smaller scale. It's enough to understand. Death is ugly. It can be mind searing. Open war should be avoided if there exists a reasonable alternative. I've heard and seen written, many times, that we cannot vote our way out of this crisis. I disagree. What's been done to us we can reverse and do unto others. What we have lacked is an ignition source, a clear understanding of the stakes by the general populace and the will to exert our sovereignty. The moment has come and our path is now clear. Obama must go and he needs to take all his friends with him.

Romney isn't perfect, I acknowledge that, but we have a chance to exert our will upon him and his policies. We have zero chance to do the same with obama. Why would we put him back into a position to do more damage to our country? And doing nothing is in fact supporting 4 more years of obama and pushing us ever closer to the day when the cold War becomes very hot. Some who are arguing against Romney and for a return of obama do it because they say they want to fight the War themselves to spare their children and grandchildren. Honorable but much mistaken. War knows no boundaries. Respects no gender or age. Kills wantonly and without rhyme or reason.

No. The War may come of it's own accord but I will not take any action to hasten it's arrival, including inaction. Ridicule me if you will but I have made my decision and I have no qualms or regrets about it. Honor and my own concern about my grandchildren's future compel me to make my stand here.

Mitt Romney 2102.


26 June 2012

Things I Don't Understand

Having just had my mumbledyfiftysomethingishmumble birthday a couple of days ago I realize that I am officially ensconced in the 'late middle aged' category. Some might be so insensitive as to imply that I am in 'incipient grumpy old guy' territory but only the truly cruel. Or maybe Lu.

But I'm totally Ok with that. My view is that age is just a number but complaints about my gallbladder are forever. And cool. I still consider myself a bit of an athlete, albeit a slow and inept one. I still lift, ride and walk Angus around the block. Of course I don't lift as much, ride as far or walk any faster than an octogenarian poodle but I'm still out there, sweating and grunting my way through exertions that my grandkids would giggle at.

Which is why this whole Strava thing puzzles me. Oh not in an "I don't understand the technology" way, though that is always a concern. I mean, I don't Twitch or Faceplant or any of those social media things these kids today are doing. My cellphone is a hundred years old and my car won't talk to me no matter how long I hold my breath.

Anyway. The basic premise is that you attach one of those new fangled devices like GPS or Strawberry or OCD to your bicycle (or body. Apparently Strava also works for runners though I'm not real clear about how to attach the things to your legs and still get them to work. Glue maybe? Does screaming,  involuntary leg waxing hold any meaning for you?). Then you go for a ride. Afterward you upload your ride information to Strava so everyone else in the civilized world (and parts of Indiana) can see how you did. Doesn't that sound like fun? Me neither. I think it sounds like an incredible amount of work to allow strangers you'll never meet to digitally pat you on the head and say "That was a very nice try. Why don't you take up something a little more in line with your abilities? Like paper mache maybe."

The idea of paying for gadgets to attach to my bicycle and then uploading my rides for all the world to see and make fun of sounds a lot like performing dental surgery on myself. Yeah, if I'm going to be subjected to that much pain and ridicule there better be nitrous oxide and a whole lot of ice cream involved.

I'm old and slow. I know it, you know it and everyone who's ever seen me puffing up a slight incline, looking for all the world like a red faced, geriatric gorilla on his last legs knows it. Why would I put that out for the world to see? Humiliation? Hey, I get enough of that at home. I do not need to see these comments;

"Hey Six, the idea is to ride the bike not push it."
"It's really motivating to see someone who's 90 still out there riding. Keep up the great work!"
"Try putting air in the tires."
"The ambulance is on the way. Just hang on and take deep breaths."
"My grandpa is faster than you and he's been dead for three years."
"What a maroon."
And so on.

No no no. I will not be an adapter of this technology. Instead, I propose a new program for monitoring and sharing your athletic endeavors. Something that will allow you to...let's just say 'fudge' your results. Nothing evil just minor 'corrections' and 're-evaluations of the data' that will make you look more like Lance Armstrong and less like Infarctus, the bicycle riding Hippo.

And we will call that program Anthropogenic Global Warming. No, wait. That's already been taken. How about WILTY as in Would I Lie To You? Yeah, that's the ticket.

Instead of taking your ride directly from an electronic device (because we all know what liars those things are) WILTY will allow you to input the data directly and then change it as others chime in with their own factually challenged ride profiles so you can always be King of the Mountain. For instance.

You've just ridden Death Hill. It took you approximately forever. You stopped along the ride 74 times to catch your breath, take a drink of your PopsoEnergoHeartattacko sports fluid, re-start your heart with a portable defibrillator and generally wonder what could have possibly motivated you to spend 5 hours of your Saturday sweating and cursing when you could have been watching womens steeplechase and eating Cheetos from the comfort of your Barcalounger with the built in massage feature (happy ending optional). Is that really your fault? Isn't it really society's fault? Don't you think that if you had really wanted to you could have sped up that hill like you were a meth fueled rocket? I do too but don't worry, I'm here for you. And with WILTY it's easy as pie. Key Lime. Maybe with a 128 ounce Mountain Dew Slam.

Let's enter something a little closer to the truth as it should be if we were just a little less lardish. Like, say 23 minutes, 47.35 seconds. There, see how easy that was? Now, instead of painful remarks about your woeful inability to actually propel a bicycle in a forward direction you'll be inundated with comments like these;
"You beat that hill like a like you were wielding a magic Hockey Stick!"
"Cheating bastard, I hope you die screaming!"
Ignore that last one. There's always one rabbit pellet in every Key Lime Pie. And the best part of WILTY is that when FatBob from Bloatsville, Arkansas posts his ride time up Death Hill as 23 minutes 47.25 seconds you can quickly update your latest ride to just edge him out because you just know FatBob is a lying sack of crap and screw him if he can't take a joke. I mean, you don't even have to ride it because you've got better things to do than wedge a cubic yard of Spandex up your fourth point of contact while trying to max out the coronary rider on your health insurance and besides, you'd have totally nailed that ride if you'd just, you know, actually ridden it. It's the thought that counts anyway.

Now, instead of looking like a total bicycle maroon you will now seem to be a Steroidal Bicycle Deity with shades of Awesome Tour De Somewhere Badassery thrown in just for fun. Isn't that better? Of course it is. Remember, it's not a lie as long as you believe it. And by you, of course, I mean anyone gullible who logs on and views your ride times.

All this can be yours for the low low, one time only, get it before they're gone, up to 50% off and more, low down low payments, I promise nothing untoward will happen in your mouth, offer not valid anywhere that has electricity, double your money back if not satisfied (no, not really) price of $49.95. Checks payable to my barrister, the Honorable John BigBooty, c/o the Interior Ministry, Lagos, Nigeria.

It'll totally work. I swear. Would I Lie To You?

Now I just need someone with mad Haxxor computer skills and ambiguous ethics. Hey Borepatch and Keads. You guys doing anything this weekend?


23 June 2012

Sunday Kipling

With the latest solicitation request from the President making the rounds (and being widely lambasted) this poem just tickled me. Maybe it'll give someone some ideas?

Today Lu and I will throw something red and meaty on the BBQ and take the time to enjoy each others company. We'll hang out on the porch with the dogs and contemplate how good it feels to be alive.

I sincerely hope this day finds you all well and happy.


The Absent-Minded Beggar

When you’ve shouted “Rule Britannia,” when you’ve sung 
“God save the Queen,”
   When you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth,
Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine
   For a gentleman in khaki going South?
He’s an absent-minded beggar, and his weaknesses are great –
   But we and Paul must take him as we find him –
He is out on active service, wiping something of a slate –
   And he’s left a lot of little things behind him!
Duke’s son – cook’s son – son of a hundred kings –
   (Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of ‘em doing his country’s work
   (and who’s to look after his things?)
Pass the hat for your credit’s sake, 
                                      and pay – pay – pay!

There are girls he married secret, asking no permission to,
   For he knew he wouldn’t get it if he did.
There is gas and coals and vittles, and the house-rent 
falling due,
   And it’s more than rather likely there’s a kid.
There are girls he walked with casual. They’ll be sorry 
now he’s gone,
   For and absent-minded beggar they will find him,
But it ain’t the time for sermons with the winter coming on.
   We must help the girl that Tommy’s left behind him!
Cook’s son – Duke’s son – son of a belted Earl –
   Son of Lambeth publican – it’s all the same today!
Each of them doing the country’s work
   (and who’s to look after the girl?)
Pass the hat for your credit’s sake,
                                      and pay – pay – pay!

They are families by thousands, far too proud to beg 
or speak,
   And they’ll put their sticks and bedding up the spout,
And they’ll live on half o’ nothing, paid ‘em punctual 
once a week,
   ‘Cause the man that earns the wage is ordered out.
He’s an absent-minded beggar, but he heard his country call,
   And his reg’ment didn’t need to send to find him!
He chucked his job and joint it – so the job before us all
   Is to help the home that Tommy’s left behind him!
Duke’s job – cook’s job – gardener, baronet, groom,
   Mew’s or palace or paper-shop, there’s someone gone away!
Each of ‘em doing his country’s work
   (and who’s to look after the room?)
Pass the hat and for your credit’s sake,
                                       and pay – pay – pay!

Let us manage so as later, we can look him in the face,
   And tell him – what he’d very much prefer –
That, while he saved the Empire, his employer saved 
his place,
   And his mates (that’s you and me) looked out for her.
He’s and absent-minded beggar and he may forget it all,
   But we do not want his kiddies to remind him
That we sent ‘em to the workhouse while their daddy 
hammered Paul,
   So we’ll help the homes that Tommy left behind him!
Cook’s home  - Duke’s home – home of millionaire,
   (Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of ‘em doing his country’s work
   (and what have you got to spare?)
Pass the hat for your credit’s sake 
                                      and pay – pay – pay!

22 June 2012

Happy Happy Birthday Six!!!!!!!!

21 June 2012

Bacon, Summer And Angus. A Love Story.

It's gotten hot here. Hundred plus degrees hot. So it's time again for Angus' favorite Summer treat. Bacon Cubes. I've written about them before but I'll put up the recipe again for anyone who missed it the first time.

First. Get some bacon bits. Yes, these are Kirkland brand but I bought them before I knew Costco was run by hippies. I'll have to watch Angus after he eats these lest he suddenly start wearing sandals and carrying a 99 Percenter sign while complaining about the No Pooping In The House policy. 

Pour some water into ice cube trays and add in the bacon bits. I count out each bacon bit individually so as to ensure even distribution throughout the entire tray and avoiding those sad doggy eyes when one of them thinks the other got more bacon in their cube than they did. I hate those eyes. They make me feel like giving the ASPCA my life savings and moving to a mountaintop in New Jersey, there to meditate on the state of man in relation to nature whilst contemplating my collection of navel lint. Naked of course.

Anyway. Place the ice trays into the freezer. This is important now; make sure the freezer is set to Freeze. If it's set to kinda freezy or worse yet, not freezy at all the ice won't set up and the cubes cubes simply won't form and you'll get Soggy Bacon Mush and no one wants that. Well, Angus might but he eats cat poop so what does he know? I usually test my freezer by putting my head in and shutting the door as far as possible. If my hair snaps off after 15 minutes we're good to go. If not it may be time to check your temperature setting or perhaps your stylist. Make sure you're alone for this step as your significant other may take this as an opportunity to ridicule you or otherwise make fun of your gullibility.

When the water has set up you'll get something called an Ice Cube. Don't worry about that, it's just a Frenchy term we gourmet chefs use. Like Horse De Overs and Petity Le Foux Grass. But these Ice Cubes are different because they have bacon in them. See how we did that?

When finished it should look something like this.

I know the recipe is complicated and complex with a confusing number of technical steps and a vast array of ingredients and cookware needed for completion but don't let that put you off. If you follow the recipe exactly as I've laid it out, skipping no steps and paying particular attention to the small details, you too can turn out canine worthy Bacon Cube treats that will be the hit of the play date and the talk of the neighborhood. Except for those neighbors who say hurtful things like "Well, Duh", "That's It!? and "Margaret, call the ambulance, he's finally gone mental." Ignore them, it's just the jealousy talking.

These are your customers and the only ones whose opinions count. And I assure you that you'll be hailed as a conquering hero and slobbered upon incessantly when you bring those babies out. Not in this picture obviously. In this picture the dogs are recovering from a just completed wild celebration of All Things Bacony Cubey and are simply resting, conserving their energy until the next round of We Love Daddy. I swear. Would I lie to you?

Bacon Cubes. Simple treats from a simple mind.


18 June 2012

Fence Pt.3

With all the posts and stringers up it was time for boards. A quick word about pressure treated lumber. Put it up quickly and treat it afterwards. If not you run the risk of warping. Even if you do everything properly you will lose some boards. I got lucky and only lost 5 out of 180.

I'll treat them and place them under some pressure to try and save them but at about a buck fifty per board I don't use any that are too bad. Like these.

Ok. I topped all the posts at 4 inches. This is where all that preparation when setting the posts and stringers comes in. At first I was using a string to set the board height but after a few feet I decided that was too slow so I made a jig. The jig is a 2x6 with a 1x2 set at the board height. With the posts topped uniformly I simply screw the jig to the post tops and set the boards right up against the bottom of the 1x2. The ability to use the tops of the posts for a jig instead of trying to set each board individually will really speed up the process.

After the jig was built the boards went up reasonably well.

If not exactly speedily.

The work tends to be repetitive and slow when done solo. It's important to keep the bottoms of the boards out of the dirt and keep them as plumb as possible. Make a mistake here and let them get too far out and it's an error you'll be chasing and paying for down the line. I trimmed the bottoms of most of the boards (uneven ground and slope) and checked plumb about every fifth one. They don't have to be perfect but as close as possible saves time and effort later.

Tools of the trade. A compressor and a nail gun. I considered screws but with 175 boards in the fence and 6 fasteners per board decided that discretion was the better part of fence building. Did I mention how hot it was? It was hot. Just sayin'.

 After a full day, and I do mean a full day, it's done. 80 feet of 6 foot pressure treated fencing.

It's straight, plumb and the tops are even. A reasonably nice stretch of fence if I do say so myself. It's amateur built as opposed to professionally built but if you take your time, use good installation techniques and pay attention to the basics it's not really too hard to do. In my remodel/build scale of difficulty it's about a 3 out of 10 for planning/design and a 4 for physical difficulty.

I still need to build 3 gates, 2 small and one large. In the meantime I used some of the old wrought iron for temporary gates. Angus inspected my work and pronounced them "totally not fair."

I still need to spray treat the entire fence to prevent severe warping. I'll probably do that this week. It's really straight forward. Just buy the stuff, pour it into a spray gun and apply liberally. After that cures for a couple of months Lu and MIL will discuss paint, colors and whether or not it needs it.

I think the fence looks good. It partially covers the garage and breaks up it's silhouette as well as showcasing  the garden area that the in-laws have created. It's 6 feet tall so both keeps the back yard private and should (hopefully) keep the Barking At Everything Because It's Clearly A Burglar Or Maybe A Squirrel from a certain young black dog to a minimum. Yeah, right.

Next up will be some perimeter fencing for the front yard. I'm thinking rail and post but that's not yet set in stone. Then there's that whole roof thing I keep putting off, hoping the roof gnomes will finally show up. Lazy bastards.

More to come.


17 June 2012

Sunday Kipling Father's Day Edition

Dedicated to all the Fathers out there. I am proud to call you my brothers.
And to my wonderful daughter. Sweetheart, my life began the day you were born.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

16 June 2012

Day Trip To Mountain Meadows

I finally got the fence boards installed (post next week). It looks pretty nice but I'm shagged. Lu and I decided it was a fine day for another day trip in Betty. Destination? Mountain Meadows.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre was the killing of 120 men, women and children emigrants from the Baker-Fancher party out of Arkansas in 1857.

The area is just north of St. George near Enterprise, along the old Spanish Trail.

When we got to the lot and short trail to the overlook and Memorial Site we noticed it wasn't exactly crowded.

Betty looks nice though huh?

The memorial is up a short trail, at a spot that overlooks the area where the massacre occurred. The monument is a slab of native Arkansan granite brought in especially for this.

We found fresh flowers present. I have no idea who leaves them but they couldn't have been there for more than a day. I suspect they were put there only that morning.

Here's a close up of the inscription behind those flowers.

In the distance down there you can see the spot where the wagon train was first attacked. It's marked by another memorial but the road leading to it was dirt and I decided Betty wasn't quite up to that particular task.

This shows the place where the men were separated from the women and children and were killed by the Mormon guides supposedly there to escort them to safety. I found it odd, to the point of macabre, that there are homes surrounding the area where the massacre occurred. Pass.

Just north of the main memorial site is a secondary site where the men and boys were killed.

The LDS Church now maintains the sites and has added this plaque. The massacre is still a very sore spot for the church. When I was in high school it was still being explained away as an attack by the local Paiute Indians. 

The plaque mentions a marker stone incorporated into the memorial. I got chills when I saw it. We once visited the OKC bombing memorial. As soon as we got there you could feel the weight of the place. I think that anywhere great evil was done there remains a remnant, a feel in the air. Mountain Meadows is no exception. The feel is different than OKC. Older, more distant, but there all the same. That anyone could still live here boggles my mind.

The day wasn't all bleak and sad. We had a great drive through the mountains, past Enterprise and into Beryl Junction. It was bright, hot and altogether pleasant. A cool car, a hawt chick and a day with no responsibilities. What more could you ask?

All in all a very good day. Still, there was one thing missing. Angus. Lu and I both are missing him on these jaunts and have begun to question whether we want to do them without him or not. Taking him in Black Betty is out of the question and if we take one of the trucks do we really need the Vette at all? Questions, alla the time it's just these questions. Sheesh. Still, I am once again thinking hard about selling Betty. But not today. Today I will relax and enjoy the remains of the day, satisfied that Lu and I have spent another fine day in each others company.

Yep, a good day.


13 June 2012

Six Gets A New Motorcycle!

Say hello to BigBandido, my new (to me) 1997 Suzuki Bandit 1200S.

The engine is basically a bored out GSXR1100 motor, tuned for better low end power delivery and more torque. The saddle is a Corbin Lady and Gunfighter though this is strictly a Me motorcycle. I kept Black Beauty specifically for double touring.

I looked at a lot of bikes, including more than a few BMWs and I was tempted. Then that dang practical streak started whispering in my ear. That guy can really be a pain in the posterior some times. This bike has a small fairing, a comfortable saddle and an upright riding position. Plus round tube handlebars. I started riding in the time when all handlebars were tubular steel and I find I just prefer them that way.

I kept on looking, seeking the maximum bang for my riding buck. I wanted something I could take on a two or three day trip through the Rockies but that I could still tool around town on without carrying everything but the kitchen sink along with me. I'm not a cruiser or touring bike kinda guy. No offense, they're great motorcycles, it's just not me. I rode a variety of sport bikes from my Honda CBR600 F3 to my Honda 996 Superhawk. Throw in a couple of Yamaha standards (750 and 650 Specials) and my preferences are pretty clear. I did spend a few years in the saddle of a BMW R1150 RT(P) but I was priced out of that model fairly early into the search. I wanted a big bike I could take anywhere but that wouldn't tie up a significant chunk of my assets and irritate me every time I thought about it sitting in the garage,

A lot of the stuff that was for sale at a price I was comfortable with was pretty crapped out. What is it with some of you guys? Modified and junk shouldn't be compatible terms. Everything was hacked on, cut up, rattle can painted and just generally beat beyond my desire to resurrect. I found a few that I figured I could bring back to useful life but the end result was going to be a high mileage motorcycle that I was going to have to do a lot of work to before I could depend on it. Have I ever mentioned how lazy I am?

Then I found this jewel. Yes, it has been re-painted but it was done by a professional. The paint is deep, shiny and near perfect. It already has good tires, brakes, sprockets and chain. The odometer shows just a tick over 16,000 miles. Best of all, she's almost completely stock with the original fenders, exhaust and turn signals (seriously, the very sight of those tiny white blinkers on bikes just makes me grit my teeth).

Good enough. I plunked down the cash and rode her home.She's big, fast, comfortable and all mine.

Of course the fly in the ointment was a helmet. See, I have this irritating tendency to get rid of all my riding gear when I sell a bike, only to have to buy same once again when I inevitably buy another. So I had to run down to the local cyclery establishment to procure a new lid before taking to the streets once more. Hey, my life has been saved on at least one occasion by a helmet. I never ride without one.

I have a tank bag that was somehow overlooked during the last purge so I only need a tail bag and I may forgo that in favor of a small duffel and a bungee. Then I'll be all set. I called Car Guy and I'll talk to my uncle later this week. Ride The Rockies is on!

Yea Me!


Shopping Today

The fence is coming along nicely. I've started putting up the boards and it's looking good but I'm taking today off.

It's been a tough couple of weeks so at the end of the month Gar Guy, my favorite uncle (whose first name my daughter carries as her middle name) and I are going to take a couple of days and ride around the Rocky Mountain area. So this afternoon I'm going to go and take a look at a motorcycle. Hopefully I'll come home with something shiny and fast. No, it will not be a Harley. First, I'm not that guy and second, even if I was I can't afford one.

In light of that I will offer you some video content instead of my usual ramblings, nonsense and buffoonery.

I present Nurburgring at the speed of smell.

And done just a tad quicker.

 I rode for a living for 10 years and I have 22 laps at Laguna Seca at speed on a Kawasaki ZX6 but that guy still scared the crap out of me. And I was sitting on a barcalounger!

If a purchase is made I promise pics and maybe even a little video later today.


11 June 2012

Fence Building Is Painful When You're Stupid

After some delays I've finally got the stringers in. The stupid part? I'll get to that momentarily.

But first an Angus picture. Just to get you in a good mood.

Ok. Stringers. There's two ways to do this. Level or parallel. Level is self explanatory. Use a spirit level on each stringer. The problem comes in when the ground isn't level. My lot slopes gently up from back to front. It's not a lot but it is there. If I simply make each stringer level the stringers will be off in height by about 3 inches when comparing the first post to the last and will be obvious when the fence boards are installed. For me, in this instance, parallel is the better choice. Instead of making the stringers each level I measured up from the ground on the first and last post to the point where I wanted the top stringer to go and then ran another line. It looks like this.

From there I used the old Mark 1 Eyeball and lined up the string starting at the middle again and working out so the line was straight and true for it's length. I stapled the line to each post to make sure it didn't sag and throw me off.

Here's a look at what I'm talking about. The string level is a bit hard to see but if you look closely you'll see the bubble is just a bit off, indicating the line isn't perfectly level. That's Ok, in fact it's exactly what I wanted. It'll all work out as you'll see in a minute.

This is a fence stringer hanger. It's screwed into the post. The stringer ends fit into the hanger and get screwed to it in turn. I used the line I ran earlier to set each of the top hangers.

Once all the hangers were on I set each of the top stringers. I then checked visually to ensure they were parallel to the ground. The eye is naturally drawn to things that are out of square which is why I chose to hang them the way I did. They won't be visible from the fence side but they will be from the house side and if they're off, even by the three inches I mentioned, it'll completely ruin the line of the fence and look terrible.

You can see here that the stringer is parallel to the ground and looks correct. Of course there is one problem here. Can you spot it because I sure didn't. Until it was too late. Far too late.

See, I set the top stringers at 5 1/2 feet from the ground. When you're 6 feet tall and walking toward the fence with your head down (Lu said with it up my fourth point of contact) the stringer is just about nose height. How do I know? This is how I know.

So there I was, minding my own business when suddenly, and completely without warning, someone hit me across the face with a pressure treated 2x4. Anyone who says I stupidly walked into the fence is totally lying. I swear. The impact wrenched my head back and sprained my neck. I didn't see stars but I did see black for a few seconds there. I thought for a few minutes I had actually broken my nose. The blood ran out like someone had installed a sinus spigot and turned it on to full.

This is the next day, after it'd had time to scab over a bit. Looks painful huh? Yep, mighty painful. Abject lessons often are. Somebody needs to find whoever's responsible for this and lock him away in a rubber room. What a maroon.

So I gave myself the rest of the day as well as Sunday off. Without pay of course. I started up again today.

After getting the rest of the top stringers installed (and the blood cleaned off one in particular) I used them to set the next two rows. I measured down from the top stringer 2 feet and 4 feet and marked the post. I used those marks to set the hangers for those rows of stringers.

From there it was a simple matter of putting in the rest of the stringers. I put each stringer in crown up (with one obvious exception, darn it) so as they settle they'll more firmly press their butt ends into the post and end up straight without me having to fudge them as I install the fence boards.

Finally done! All the stringers are set and the skeleton is ready for boards. Each is parallel with the others and the look is visually pleasing.

Is it straight? Not too bad if I do say so myself. There's that one board I put in upside down. I'm trying to decide which fix requires the least effort on my part. Re-doing it or fudging. Since it's covered by the garage I may go total lazy sleazoid and just pretend I never saw it. What?

Lu and I went down and picked up the boards for the actual fencing. One hundred eighty 5 1/2' x 5/8" x 6' boards. Tomorrow I'll top the posts to a uniform height and start installing the boards.

I figure we'll come in at right about $800 for the 80 foot run which isn't too bad. Hey, I figure I'm buying myself some new toys by doing it myself and I hate to pay someone else to do things I can do.

Of course there is that nose to consider. There's still plenty of opportunity left for buffoonery.


10 June 2012

Sunday Kipling

Dedicated to A Girl And Her Gun. I said it before but I'll say it here again. I'd take her on my team anytime and anywhere and her detractors can kiss my fat ass. If you can't tell the difference between hard training and unwarranted risk then you're doing it wrong and probably should look into some less strenuous activities like badminton or tiddlywinks.

The 'eathen

The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone;
'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own;
'E keeps 'is side-arms awful: 'e leaves 'em all about,
An' then comes up the Regiment an' pokes the 'eathen out.

  All along o' dirtiness, all along o' mess,
  All along o' doin' things rather-more-or-less,
  All along of abby-nay, kul, an' hazar-ho,
  Mind you keep your rifle an' yourself jus' so!

The young recruit is 'aughty -- 'e draf's from Gawd knows where;
They bid 'im show 'is stockin's an' lay 'is mattress square;
'E calls it bloomin' nonsense -- 'e doesn't know, no more --
An' then up comes 'is Company an'kicks'im round the floor!

The young recruit is 'ammered -- 'e takes it very hard;
'E 'angs 'is 'ead an' mutters -- 'e sulks about the yard;
'E talks o' "cruel tyrants" which 'e'll swing for by-an'-by,
An' the others 'ears an' mocks 'im, an' the boy goes orf to cry.

The young recruit is silly -- 'e thinks o' suicide.
'E's lost 'is gutter-devil; 'e 'asn't got 'is pride;
But day by day they kicks 'im, which 'elps 'im on a bit,
Till 'e finds 'isself one mornin' with a full an' proper kit.

  Gettin' clear o' dirtiness, gettin' done with mess,
  Gettin' shut o' doin' things rather-more-or-less;
  Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,
  Learns to keep  'is ripe an "isself jus'so!

The young recruit is 'appy -- 'e throws a chest to suit;
You see 'im grow mustaches; you 'ear 'im slap' is boot.
'E learns to drop the "bloodies" from every word 'e slings,
An 'e shows an 'ealthy brisket when 'e strips for bars an' rings.

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch 'im 'arf a year;
They watch 'im with 'is comrades, they watch 'im with 'is beer;
They watch 'im with the women at the regimental dance,
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send 'is name along for "Lance."

An' now 'e's 'arf o' nothin', an' all a private yet,
'Is room they up an' rags 'im to see what they will get.
They rags 'im low an' cunnin', each dirty trick they can,
But 'e learns to sweat 'is temper an 'e learns to sweat 'is man.

An', last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,
'E schools 'is men at cricket, 'e tells 'em on parade,
They sees 'im quick an 'andy, uncommon set an' smart,
An' so 'e talks to orficers which 'ave the Core at 'eart.

'E learns to do 'is watchin' without it showin' plain;
'E learns to save a dummy, an' shove 'im straight again;
'E learns to check a ranker that's buyin' leave to shirk;
An 'e learns to make men like 'im so they'll learn to like their work.

An' when it comes to marchin' he'll see their socks are right,
An' when it comes: to action 'e shows 'em how to sight.
'E knows their ways of thinkin' and just what's in their mind;
'E knows when they are takin' on an' when they've fell be'ind.

'E knows each talkin' corp'ral that leads a squad astray;
'E feels 'is innards 'eavin', 'is bowels givin' way;
'E sees the blue-white faces all tryin 'ard to grin,
An 'e stands an' waits an' suffers till it's time to cap'em in.

An' now the hugly bullets come peckin' through the dust,
An' no one wants to face 'em, but every beggar must;
So, like a man in irons, which isn't glad to go,
They moves 'em off by companies uncommon stiff an' slow.

Of all 'is five years' schoolin' they don't remember much
Excep' the not retreatin', the step an' keepin' touch.
It looks like teachin' wasted when they duck an' spread an 'op --
But if 'e 'adn't learned 'em they'd be all about the shop.

An' now it's "'Oo goes backward?" an' now it's "'Oo comes on?"
And now it's "Get the doolies," an' now the Captain's gone;
An' now it's bloody murder, but all the while they 'ear
'Is voice, the same as barrick-drill, a-shepherdin' the rear.

'E's just as sick as they are, 'is 'eart is like to split,
But 'e works 'em, works 'em, works 'em till he feels them take the bit;
The rest is 'oldin' steady till the watchful bugles play,
An 'e lifts 'em, lifts 'em, lifts 'em through the charge that wins the day!

  The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone --
  'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own.
  The 'eathen in 'is blindness must end where 'e began
  But the backbone of the Army is the Non-commissioned Man!

  Keep away from dirtiness -- keep away from mess,
  Don't get into doin' things rather-more-or-less!
  Let's ha' done with abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho;
  Mind you keep your rifle an' yourself jus' so!

07 June 2012


Excuses are gone. It's time to get back to work on the house. I decided to go ahead and put up the fence between our house and Sarge's. It runs along the north side of the house, beside Sarge's driveway, from the back of the property to the front corner of the garage. I put up a temporary fence last year to keep the dogs in the yard. It consisted of some chain link and black wrought iron I already had. The chain link started to sag and look terrible so it's time to replace it permanently.

Materials consist of eleven 8' pressure treated 4x4s, eleven 50 pound bags of post concrete, thirty 8' pressure treated 2x4s with screws and galvanized steel hangers. I'll buy the actual fence boards in the next day or two, just before I put them up.

Here's how the area and old fence looked.

Looking back from the front of the garage.

You can see the chain link and the wrought iron sections. I used the WI to make a temporary dog fence until the new fence is up.

Really, that's just embarrassing.

I ran a string along the property line and then drove in a stake every 8 feet. Those are where I'll later dig holes for the 4x4 posts. I then laid out the posts with one bag of post concrete per hole. It didn't actually take all 11, I used 9 1/2 bags for 11 holes but for 2' deep 6" holes for 4x4 posts one 50 pound bag per is a good rule of thumb. It actually depends on depth uniformity and how much you have to hog out the hole for fit.

I was going to dig the post holes by hand. Then I remembered that I'm actually lazy. And I'm a guy so you know, power tools. Plus I got to draft some cute help.

Holes drilled and posts set in place.

Now it's time to make things more or less permanent. This may not be the way others do it. It might not even be the best way to do it but it's the way that works best for me.

I started out by setting the two end posts and leaning the others back.

I then ran a string from the first post to the last. I'll use this string to set the rest.

I then set the center post of the run. I now have two ends and the center done. This will break up the run into two halves and allow me to more easily get the posts set correctly.

After the center post was set I broke it again and set a center post in the two half runs. The rest went from there, working from back to front.

A word on setting posts. This must be done correctly to get a straight and plumb fence. Time spent here will pay off when putting up the fence boards. The better the posts are set the less finagling and fudging you'll have to do later. The posts are the foundation. Get this right and the rest is a lot simpler.

I start off by checking plumb while the post is set at the string line. If the post is plumb but not touching the line the entire post has to be moved toward the line. This was necessary for me because the fence is located on the property line. I had to drill the holes on my side of the line so some fudging became necessary. You can see here that the post is plumb but about an inch away from the string.

Time to hog out the holes. Done the old fashioned way.

Now the post is straight and plumb and as close to the string as I prefer. I don't rest the post on the string. If the posts push against the string even just a bit it'll tend to create a cascading error that will make the fence either wavy or bowed. Instead I leave a gap of between 1/16 and 1/32 of an inch between the post and the string. That will tend to cancel out any errors and make the fence much straighter.This is also the time to ensure the post is square to the line. It's not critical, a little error is acceptable, but the better the posts are set the easier the fence boards are to put up and the better the fence will look. Am I harping? Well, maybe a little. There, perfect. The post is plumb, square and right at the correct distance from the string. Let's set that sucker.

A word on post concrete. The big box home remodel store was out of actual post cement so I went with a quick dry concrete. I set the posts dry and add in water in stages as I fill the hole. Get the post aligned correctly, add in a little concrete. Check the post. Correct and add in some water. Check the post again, Correct and add in some more concrete and water. I do this until the hole is filled with concrete and water and the post is set correctly. It's a little time consuming but it allows me to set the posts alone and check and correct all the way to the top. Others may click their tongues and chastise me for this practice but I've done it many times and had good luck with it. The concrete draws in the water and will cure in the hole as well as if poured wet. Hey, it works for me. Your mileage may vary. True post cement is designed to do this very thing and the only real difference between post cement and quick dry concrete is gravel, the name and cost.

Eleven posts later and it's done. The posts are set, straight, plumb and square. Ready for stringers and boards.

This work actually took me two days because I'm retired and lazy and no one was paying me to finish on a deadline. One day to prep the site and auger the holes. One day to set all the posts. Tomorrow I'll be putting in the stringers and getting ready for boards. This weekend I'll put up the fence boards. All 160 plus of them. There will also be two gates, one at the back corner and another at the front of the garage.

More tomorrow God willing and the creek don't rise.