Friday, September 28, 2007

Gone Hunting...

..Or at least I will be by this time tomorrow, once my son's flag flag football game is done. I'll be heading up to the Shasta -Trinity National Forest, and setting up camp about 25 miles East of here. A buddy of mine took his 40ft 5th wheel up yesterday, so I'll be doing it in some comfort this time around (I never bothered to take my own trailer up, because I'm cheap/poor and didn't want to spend the money on gas just for myself, but hey, if someone else takes one up, sure, I'll be happy to stay in it!).
I'll be taking a couple of rifles; a 30-30 lever "brush gun", and a scoped .308 for more open areas, depending on where I find myself...
Come Sunday morning, I'll be out on the prowl, looking to cap on some furry woodland creatures. Wish me luck! (Hopefully it'll take my mind off the impending slaughter of my Rams at the hands of the Cowboys...)
Oh yeah - I'll DEFINITELY have pictures this time around...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Coaching

Well, after some thought, I decided to help out and coach the flag football team - even though I've never coached before, and I'd only seen one season...
The league that my son is in is very new (started out this summer), and they're having a hard time with getting into an organized routine. Flaky parents don't help either. That's how I got pulled into coaching one week before the season began.
I'll still manage to go on my hunting trip, but I will just have to cut it short. Instead of Friday through Saturday (8 days), I'll go Saturday to Wednesday, possibly Thursday.
What I'm finding out is that I'm enjoying this much more than I expected. The kids that I'm coaching are enthusiastic and pick up on new concepts really quickly. I've had two practice sessions already, and my kids have already learned six pass routes and four plays.
I'm trying to keep them busy, running, passing, catching and pulling flags, as well as keeping it fun. So far that's easier than I thought.
Oh, and I'm not going it alone. One of my co-workers very kindly offered to come out and help me out - so far she's been a great help. She's helping with the conditioning (14 years of soccer would make you pretty darn good at that) as well as being there to offer objective opinions about player placement, plays and such - something I really can't get from the parents.
Sure, I'm new to this, but if I keep a couple of steps ahead of the kids, it shouldn't show, right?
Who'd have thought I'd be having this much fun?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Disgusted

The Rams are 0-3, after getting stomped by the Bucs today. My boys put up a total of 3 points today. Bah. I can't remember a season start this bad. Next up - Cowboys. That one's gonna be ugly.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wow!

A pro-rights bill actually passed and made its way to the governor's desk! In California! Pinch me! Let's hope he signs this one...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Once again, California leads the way...

...in stark-staring-mad style liberal lunacy.

Item1: It sure takes a lot to make the ultra-liberal federal judges in this part of the country look like reasoned, scholarly, objective and impartial members of the bench, but CA state attorney Jerry Brown makes it easy with his flat out batshit insane Global Warming Lawsuit Against the EEEvil Automakers for Ruining The Planet. Only a gibbering idiot would let something like that go to trial with a straight face. See DirtCrashr and RNS for more details.

Item 2: Sitting on the Governors desk right now is AB1471, the microstamping bill that apparently sailed through the state legislature regardless of the total, complete and utter lack of solid science behind it. This bill requires that all handguns have a laser-engraved microstamp on the tip of the firing pin that will deliver a unique imprint to the cartridge upon firing. The obvious fact that this "investigative aid" can be overcome in a variety of ways - 5 minutes with a file, picking up your cartridges at the scene of the crime or picking up other people's cartridges from the gun range and dropping them as "evidence" to name just 3 off the top of my head - has not deterred the primates that pass for our legislators suggests to me that they're less concerned about current criminals than they are about creating a whole new class of criminal - namely law-abiding gun-owners. "Hey, it's an unworkable solution that has no place in reality, but if it delivers yet another kick to the nuts of the CA gun-owner, it can't be all bad".

Item 3: Another one gracing Ahhnuld's desk is AB821, the lead ammo ban to SAVE THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR, MAN! Despite all our conservation efforts, this species still just cannot make it on its own. The high levels of lead toxicity in the blood of Condors has led the environmental crowd to blame hunters for the problem. Now this may or may not be true - I don't think there's a definitive study out there that proves it beyond a doubt; besides which, there are plenty of other carrion-eating species out here in the great state of California, and I don't hear any others being decimated in this manner. Shit, sometimes I think we're being overrun by coyotes from some of the news stories I hear, and everwhere I look when I'm hiking I see crows and ravens. Anyway, regardless of whether science has reached a conclusion or not, our esteemed legislature has determined that WE MUST DO SOMETHING! That something? Well, criminalize a bunch of hunters of course! "Hey, it's an unworkable solution that has no place in reality, but if it delivers yet another kick to the nuts of the CA gun-owner, it can't be all bad".

Now, with a Republican governor at the helm, one would be tempted to think "Well, this is a man of reason and discernment; obviously he will just veto this nonsense and we'll continue about our day"... except this is Arnold Schwarzenegger we're talking about. You know, the one who said "The Global Warming debate is over", the one who signed into law AB50, the Eevil 50BMG rifle ban. His veto is by no means a slam dunk in this matter, especially given the amount of democratic ass he has to kiss on a daily basis to get ANYTHING done in Sacramento - or anything in the bedroom, since he's married to a Kennedy.

Only in America...

Can you file suit against God...
Hey dude, maybe you should include the rest of the Trinity? That way they can't do an end run around your injunction...
I share the man's frustration with frivolous lawsuits, but I'm not sure what he expects to achieve as a result of this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Opinions requested....

I just got a call from the organizer of the flag football league my son is in. For the upcoming season, starting Sept 22nd, they've had no less than four coaches back out.
Obviously, they're desperate for coaches, and he asked me to help out. I have a hunting trip planned for the beginning of October and a trip to Arizona mid-month which means I'd miss 3 weekends out of a 9-10 week season as well as a full weeks practice. I'm having somewhat of a crisis of conscience, wondering if I should back out of the hunting trip (there's no way I'll miss the AZ trip) and take this on? I don't want the kids to miss out, but having a coach that would miss 3 of their games is flat out not fair to them. So - should I back out of the trip and step up, or should I pass, and expect someone else to do it?

Monday, September 17, 2007

A grim start...

Sigh. Week two and my boys are sucking. Bad. Its getting pretty hard to be a Rams fan anymore these days, seeing whatever offensive talent they have being pissed away by a completely hopeless defense. I had hoped that the lessons learned from last year would have been taken to heart, but apparently not. St Louis is 0-2 thus far. The loss to Carolina I can understand - they're a pretty tough team. But losing to Frisco? At HOME!? No excuse. That's pathetic. I don't care if it was just by 1 point. It's still in the loss column.
I've been a Rams fan since I was 15, and was first introduced to the wonder and glory of American Football in high school, back in the UK. I stayed a fan even when that evil witch Georgia Frontiere ripped them away from Anaheim to new lands far away. I even stayed a fan throughout the 90's, when they vied with Cincinnati for the title of suckiest team in the NFL. I was so stoked when my patience and loyalty finally paid off with a Superbowl win in 2000, thinking we finally had a world class team. Well, that didn't last too frigging long, did it?
The way players get traded around the league these days, it's a damn miracle there's any kind of team cohesion anymore. Most of the guys who were instrumental in that Superbowl win are no longer on the Rams. The defense has really suffered. All the big defensive stars have been long gone, and the leadership seems to change hands every year, so there's no real foundation to build on.
I had high hopes, but I think it's gonna be a long season... well, a short one actually, since I doubt they're headed to the playoffs...
Maybe I'm being too pessimistic - maybe two defeats right out the gate is what we need for the defense to pull their heads out of their asses... yeah, "maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot..."

Et tu, Greenspan?

Via Drudge, I read that Greenspan is piling on Bush, hopping on the bandwagon as it were. Now, I have my problems with Bush - mainly with regards to the immigration fiasco that passes as current policy - but the Iraq war isn't one of them. Apparently Greenspan buys into the old liberal "war for oil" mantra, which is too bad. I have a lot of respect for this guy - our economy and our country prospered with him at the helm - but expertise in matters financial does not make him an expert in all things, and I think he's stepped out of his realm a little here. Of course, this is America, so he can say whatever the hell he wants.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Range day


I took a little drive to try out a new range this morning, with a buddy from work. He'd heard about this place, so we decided to go check it out. The range above is one of four or five throughout the entire shooting park. Overall, I liked the place, although I didn't care for the target setup so much - the house ones were made from PVC pipe and would blow over any time it gusted... and being up in the mountains a ways, it gusted a fair bit... Can't use metal, because of the risk of sparking, and you can see how dry the hills in the background look.


That said, the staff are a lot friendlier than the guys at my "local", but this range is really too far away to switch...





Here's what I brung - my trusty 10/22, and my old SKS, who's been needing some attention lately. She'd been on the back burner some since I got my scary black rifle, so I took her out and fell in love all over again. I'm such a tramp.





This was my best grouping of the day, courtesy of the 10/22, at fifty yards. Scopes certainly make it easier!


All in all - a good time, and I'd go there again; too bad it's way too far to visit more often.


Friday, September 14, 2007

I've had better weeks


This past Saturday Greta, our oldest (and in my opinion prettiest) dog died. She was 9, so she was getting on a bit, but I thought she at least had a couple of years left in her. She was a German Shepherd, around 70lbs, not the biggest but not the smallest either. This picture is the only digital one of her that I have and it does not do her justice. My wife and I got her right after we were married, intending for her to be our first "kid" - before we found out that our firstborn was already on the way. Because we got sucked up into the young parent thing so quickly, we weren't the best dog-owners we could have been - something I still have regrets about. She was a profoundly loyal girl who wanted nothing more than to be with us, whether underfoot in the kitchen, out in the yard, or out on walks.
She was showing her age - her hips had been giving her problems of late, which is common in Shepherds - but she was still the bouncy, happy dog we all knew on the morning of her death. Mid-morning, my wife called the dogs in for treats, but Greta would not move - she just lay there on her old bed, perfectly still. It looks like she went out quickly (a stroke or heart attack, maybe) and for that I'm thankful.
I held it together pretty well until I had to turn her body over to animal control in town, then I pretty much broke down. I'm going to miss having her around.
One last little "stick it in and twist" courtesy of our marvelous city government: I had to pay an additional $15 on top of the disposal fee because my dog was not spayed. Can you frigging believe that? A dead dog's uterus is no threat to ANYONE, but they have to add that little punitive jab just to remind you that you've been a naughty child. Bastards. I know it's only $15, but it's the principle, dammit!
On top of that, I pretty much got my ass kicked all week by a cold that migrated from my head to my chest and decided to stick around for a while. I'm still coughing up yellow crap as I write. OK, OK... maybe a little too much detail.
And, finally... we took in our newest truck for service because the engine light was on. Turns out it needs a new turbo. Still under warranty, so it won't cost me anything, and we've got enough vehicles around here that we can get by without it (it's the truck we use to tow our trailer) but I have to say that I'm more than a little disturbed to find the truck that I just dropped $39K on two years ago has frigging engine problems with less than 14K miles on the odometer. Shit, we already had to replace a head on this sumbitch too! I reluctantly spent this much on a diesel because I was given to believe that they were reliable, and I don't want to have to buy another truck for at least ten years. Let me just say, my confidence has been eroded quite dramatically this week, especially after hearing the service tech say, "Yeah, we've been seeing a lot of problems with this particular motor. It's why Ford went to the 6.4L twin turbo this year."
OK, enough whining for now. Bouncing around the blogosphere really has helped keep me from feeling too sorry for myself this week, so thanks to all out there for all your little diversions...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering Red Jungle Fowl

During my senior year at college, I had the opportunity to work for one of my professors in the Biology Department as a research assistant.
My prof, Dr Z, was studying the morphological characteristics of Red Jungle Fowl and how they related to mating behavior.
Red Jungle Fowl are the precursors to modern day chickens and are found wild in South East Asia, where the chicken was first domesticated. They are virtually indistinguishable from regular chickens as far as I could remember; possibly the roosters were more colorful, but very similar in every other aspect.
So, what we were measuring was the size of the birds, the size and color of the combs and wattles, brightness of plumage and eyes as indicators of the bird's general health, and to see if the healthier, brighter birds would attract more females.
On the flip side, we also introduced parasites to some of the males to see if this had an adverse affect on their physical appearance and if this too had an affect on their desirability to females. We would also draw blood and get red blood cell counts of our roosters, another indicator of health.
For a Bio major who was into zoology as much as I, this was all fascinating stuff. I was involved in all aspects of this research, and I thought it would look great on my resume. I was part of a group of four or five students who help out taking these measurements, and taking care of the animals.
We kept the birds off-campus in the Agricultural Operations "allotment" a couple of blocks from school. My school started out as a citrus research station, and there's still a lot of agricultural research done there. At the time, I didn't have a car (I had a motorcycle, but it was inoperable for most of my employment there) so I was allowed to use one of the university's old Suburbans to drive over there and do what I had to do.
The birds were kept in little cages, cubes about four feet on a side, two females or one male per cage. We also had a couple of larger cages with more females in together.
Each cage required feed and water on a daily basis, and we worked on a rota to get it done, sharing the responsibilities out between the students. We also pitched in on the maintenance/repair/building of the cages.
If you have never dealt with chickens, let me assure you that you probably don't want to. The females aren't so bad, but they can still be unpleasant at times.
The roosters, however; well, they're just a little ball of feathers and hate. They hate EVERYTHING. They'll attack ANYTHING. I've never seen so much mean stuffed into such a little package, and when it comes around to mating time, they are exponentially worse.
To put it bluntly, these Red Jungle Fowl roosters were evil little bastards. They still had their spurs, and they'd sharpen them against the wires of their cage, all the while looking at you with an "I'll get you sooner or later, motherfucker" glint in their eye...
When they attacked, they'd fly at you full speed, legs extended and spurs up and towards you. And they were FAST. When you were feeding them, you had to be fast, too. Pop that cage open, drop in the food, close it again. Oh yeah. They had no problem biting the hand that feeds, that's for sure.
A few weeks of this, and I had a rhythm. I knew when to open the cages and give the food before I could get nailed, and I did get hit a couple of times that weren't so bad.
I think that was my downfall right there - I got a little complacent. Sure, I avoided the attacks - who wouldn't - but hey, they're chickens, right?
Riiight...
Well, one day, either my timing was off, or this rooster's was right on the money. He must have been waiting for me. Right as I opened the gate to his cage, he was airborne, ricocheting off the gate like some frikking chicken pinball and right into me, two inch spurs extended, just as I was bending my knee to drop the food.
This little bastard jammed one of his spurs right through the denim of the Levis I was wearing, right through the skin of my knee and right up underneath my kneecap. It was over in an instant - he was gone, leaving nothing but a bloody hole and some torn denim.
To my credit, I believe my scream was quite brief, and not very girly at all. Of course, I was there by myself, so you'll only have my word for that.
I had to take my temper in both hands and hold on very tightly, because if I let go, my prof was going to be down one hyperaggressive rooster. I finished up my chores without killing the little shit, drove home and popped a beer. My knee locked up, and I had a stiff leg for a couple of days, which drew gales of mirth from my friends when I had to explain what happened to me.

And that, dear friends, is how I got my ass kicked by a chicken.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Right before 6am...

..The phone rings, waking me up.
"Yeah?" I answer, groggily.
It's my sister. "Turn on the news".
"Huh? Do you know what time it is?"
"Turn on the news, dammit!"
"Fine!"
I stumble out of bed, eliciting a sleepy "What's going on?" from my wife.
"Sis called. She said to turn on the TV."
Rubbing my eyes, I make my way into the front room, turn on the TV and switch the channel to CNN.
Just in time to see the second plane hit.

I will never forget.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Your tax dollars at work...

...saving the Greenback Cutthroat Trout.
Only, it seems like no-one told those high-dollar goverment biologists that the Greenback Cutthroat Trout has a - you guessed it! - GREEN BACK.
Sigh. A TWENTY YEAR environmental program. Have you any idea how much this has cost the taxpayer?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Crazy day

I left the house at 5am today, and just got in. I'm too wiped to post, I'm afraid. I'll be putting some stuff up tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dove Hunt Debrief...

About an hour after I wrote the last post, I had all my stuff packed in the truck and was headed East, to meet up with my coworker and then head on down to El Centro to crash at his parents place.
We've been having some crazy weather the last few days, extreme highs with humidity interspersed with showers. I got caught in one of those "storms", driving through heavy (for SoCal) rain followed by hail! Weird!
We got down to El Centro, where I met my buddy's folks who were real nice and kept us well fed and in beer. I got to listen to some of his uncle's hunting stories, learned about the area and had a good time, turning in around midnight only slightly intoxicated.
At 4am, we dragged ourselves out of bed and into the truck to go meet the rest of the crew - two of his buddies, M and T, and T's dad D. These boys were country to the core - jeans, shirts, boots and hats. T works as a ranch hand (which was very instrumental in our getting the prime hunting spots) and one of his pastimes is bull-riding. His dad reminded me of Boomhauer on "King of the Hill" - real thick accent, I got maybe every other word he was saying.
We made our introductions, then saddled up and followed them down to Calexico, where T had staked out a nice spot on a friend's farm. We got our gear all sorted, broke out the shotguns and waited for dawn - officially at 5:45.
Right at 5:45, all hell broke loose through the valley - I swear it sounded like we were in Beirut or something! I thought opening day of deer season was bad - Oh no... Our spot started out pretty slow, but in short order I had learned to tell a dove's flight from other birds and we were knocking them down. We stayed there for about an hour or so, then headed over to a feed lot where another of T's buddies worked. This place was insane! there were tons of birds and we were dropping them left right and center, climbing into the pens to get our quarry, grabbing them out of the canal that ran by the property.
Seeing the birds come overhead, tracking and then nailing them was quite a bit more intense than skeet... harder, too, since the birds tend to fly a little erratically, especially once they start getting shot at...
We ended our hunt at the feed lot where T works (since he actually had to go to work that day) and bagged a couple more while we waited. Things were slowing down at this point, the sun was beating down on us mercilessly and I'm pretty sure the birds had headed for shade.
We dropped off T's dad and headed over to Denny's for a beer and some late breakfast (it was about 11:30 by then), after which I was introduced to the task of cleaning the doves.
Since I had plans to spend the rest of Labor Day weekend with my family, I reluctantly got my gear together and headed on home.
All in all, I had an excellent time. Shooting doves was a real test of my abilities - I shot way more times than I hit, let me tell you! - but it was a fun, exciting way to spend a late summer morning. I can see why these guys come out here and do it religiously. The guys I went with were friendly, down-to-earth people who treated me as one of their own. I'd be happy to hunt with them again anytime.
Oh, and in case you're wondering... I shot four that I'm sure of, with another that may have been mine (two of us shot at it at the same time). I came home with ten all told (I could have had more, since they wanted me to take them all, but I didn't want to chance getting stopped with more than the legal limit in possession).
And, no, ten doves is not a lot of meat at all. Pretty damn tasty though...