November 26, 2015


This year, I am thankful for dirty dishes in the sink.

They represent food my family was able to eat... food that was cooked in the house where my family lives... and that house has electricity to run the stove... and that house also has running hot and cold water... and a table where we can sit to eat... and a dry roof overhead... and is paid for (in part) by my job... a job that that pays money... money I can use to buy food.

Many people in this world don't have such things. If you do, maybe you could be thankful for such simple things as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2015

Ducks Down

My trip to Texas to go Duck Hunting with EMS Artifact, Ambulance Driver, and Limey Buddy was all too short, but it was still a great time and my batteries are (more or less) recharged.

Flew out Friday morning, which meant an oh-bloody-hell-it-is-early wake up at 2:30, on the road by 3:00 to get to Indianapolis airport.  I no longer have any VIP status with any of the airlines, but that's OK... I don't like having to travel as much as it takes to get and keep that status.  For the one flight a year I take, I'll suck it up and fly with the commoners.

Got to the counter, checked my bag with my sidearm (I didn't bring my own shotgun, and borrowed one from AD to save on yet another checked bag), and got my groping by the Thousands Standing Around.  After that, it was on to a cup of coffee and the gate.  I was fortunate enough to get assigned an exit row, which was pleasant, and the trip down was uneventful.

Landed in DFW, collected my bag, and off to the rental car place.  Got the car, got the Limey, went to get EMS Artifact, and then headed west to Weatherford (with a stop along the way for lunch).

Once we checked in to the hotel, we made a quick trip to WalMart for ammo and a few assorted and sundry items, then AD arrived with his lady, and we commenced to eating pizzas and drinking beers.

Saturday, at 0400, we rose, dressed, and stopped for a thermos of coffee before meeting the guide.  If you are ever on the western side of Fort Worth and want a duck hunting guide, go talk to Jeff at Silver Creek Guide Service.  He's quality people, works his tail off to make your hunt simple and enjoyable, and won't do you wrong.

Jeff put us in a sunken blind (you can see it if you zoom in here) and while we weren't expecting many ducks on Saturday -- 20+ mph winds with gusts to 40 are not conducive to duck hunting -- we were pleasantly surprised.  Shooting steel in wind like that made for more than one missed shot, but we still landed 12 ducks on Saturday (mostly gadwalls and widgeon, plus one nice sized Mallard.)

Broke up around 11am, went out for a late brunch, then back to the hotel to filet the breast meat, take a nap, and get some dinner.

Sunday, we went out again, this time a bit more excited... The weather app on the phone was calling for 28 degrees and a 10 mph northern wind... PERFECT conditions for high volumes of ducks.

But, being weather forecasters, they were, of course, wrong.  The temp was right on, but absolutely no wind.  This, of course, means the ducks have little incentive to get off the big waters of Lake Weatherford and seek shelter in smaller ponds like the one we were hunting.  We saw a couple flights early, and landed 6 more ducks, but nothing at all was flying after about 7:30.  We called it a day around 10:00 am and packed it in.

Monday took me back to Indy, then a drive home with the duck breast fillets (nobody else could take any duck meat home, so I got it all!) and my bag full of laundry and my mind cleared of troubles and stress.

I'll be headed back to Texas again next year.  This is the sort of therapy that I need.

November 19, 2015

Headed South

Hitting the road tomorrow, early flight from IND to DFW, to spend the weekend duck hunting with EMS Artifact and Ambulance Driver and a few other folks.

I'm in dire need of time spent with my tribe, some recoil therapy, and the joy of hunting with my brothers from other mothers.  Work, family, kids, wife, weather, and all the other stuff is weighing heavily, and I'm just worn thin.  Time to decompress, even if only for a few days.

Mind the place while I'm gone.  And someone let the dogs out so they don't shit on the carpet.  I'll be back soon.

November 16, 2015

Beer Bread

Decided to stretch my comfort a bit in the kitchen this weekend, and made some bread using spent grains from a previous batch of home brew beer.

The beer was an English Brown, and had a combination of Caramel 60, Chocolate, and Carapils grains.  I'd put them into the freezer to keep, as this idea has been in my head for some months now but I've just never had the time.  Pulled them out of the freezer and let thaw, then onto a cookie sheet into a 225 oven for a few hours to dry out.

Once the grains were dried, I put some into the blender and ground them up quite fine.  Then I turned to my Gramma's French Bread recipe, as it is pretty simple, forgiving, and easy to do.

Without further ado:
5 C All Purpose flour.
1 C dried spent grains
2 packets baker's yeast
2.5 C water
1 TBSP salt

Combine the flour and grains in a bowl, mix well.  Proof the yeast by adding it to 1 cup of water at ~110 F in a large bowl.  Stir and let sit for 15 minutes, then add the remaining 1.5 C lukewarm water.

Slowly add the flour/grain mixture one handful at a time, stirring (gently at first, then harder as you near the end).  Once you've added all but 0.5 C of flour, turn out onto a work area, sprinkle the salt on the dough, and knead 6 times or so, adding the rest of the flour.

Cover with a clean, moist towel, set in a warm area free from drafts, and let rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise again for about 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a tight ball.  Then flatten it out on your work area, fold the edges over into the middle, and shape into a loaf.  Repeat for the other half.  Cover them both and let sit for another 45 minutes.

Prepare an egg wash by whisking one egg white in a half cup of cold water.  Using a *very* sharp knife, make a couple slits in the top of each loaf, brush with the egg wash, then into a 375F oven for 40 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool. stated it was really quite good.  And that's all that really matters to me, dig?

November 11, 2015

You Want It, Go Get It. It's Right Out There...

Elder Spawn is getting to that age where she's testing the limits, trying to assert some independence, and is pretty much sure she's got all the answers.  And, naturally, that's creating some tension in the house between her, me, and the Missus.

She doesn't see a need to study "boring" stuff like math and science because "I'm going to be famous for acting and making YouTube videos."  She's not very fond of the idea of a "bed time", because "only babies need a bed time, and I'm grown up."  Clothing is something that shouldn't be worn more than twice, and why don't we just buy her more clothes instead?  Rules like picking up after herself, helping with the chores (for which I pay her, as we want her to learn that if you work, you make money... The more work you do, the more money you make... The more money you make, the more money you can spend on stuff like... Well, clothes.)  And she's wanting to go on a tag-along trip with her friend and friend's family to Florida for Spring Break, for which we are expected to pay.

I pointed out that money is tight, and if she wants to go on vacation she should have been doing chores and saving her money for the airfare, rather than expect us to pay it, now get your laundry folded and put away, then get ready for bed...

Her exasperation boiled over, and she shouted at me "I'm so sick of your damn rules!  I can't wait until I don't have to follow your stupid rules any more!"

My reply:

"I'm sure you are.  Out there in the world, there won't be anyone telling you to put away your laundry.  If you want to leave your laundry laying around, rather than putting it in the hamper and putting away the clean stuff, you can.  Out there, nobody will tell you when you have to go to bed.  Stay up till 2 am every night?  Go ahead, nobody will stop you.  Sleep in as late as you want, too.  It's all up to you.

"Out there, nobody's going to try to make you eat healthy foods.  You can have all the pizza and mac-n-cheese you can afford.  Nobody is going to care if you get fat.  Nobody will care that your clothes stink because you can't do laundry.  Nobody will care that you're tired because you stayed up late.  Nobody will care that you never learned how to balance your checkbook, or repair a lamp, or cook a meal without a microwave.  Nobody will care that your house is dirty because you don't know how to run the vacuum, mop a floor, wash dishes, or scrub a bath tub.  Nobody will care that you have to walk because your car broke down and you can't change a flat tire.  Nobody will care.  It's a world without any of my stupid rules.

"And if you want it, then go get it.  All you have to do is turn the door knob.  It's right out there..."

October 29, 2015

Putting it into Perspective

Let's discuss perspective and firearm deaths.

I used the following data in this post.  The population came from the US census, the rest came from the FBI.

Total population: 318,900,000

Number of deaths: 2,596,993

Murder: 11,961

Firearm murder: 8,124

Rifle used: 248

This is a pie chart showing the population of the USA and the number of people who die every year in the USA.

The blue is the population of the USA (~ 320 million) and the orange is the number of people who died in 2014 (2.59 million)

Now, here's another pie chart.

In this chart, the total is the number of deaths from the chart above (2.59 million), and the small sliver at the top is "murder" (i.e. one human killing another, not justified).  Of that sliver, the orange is non-firearm murder, the gray represents murders using a firearm, and the (completely non-visible) yellow are firearm murders using a rifle.

Final chart:

Here you have that sliver above expanded.  Again, the whole represents that sliver, so this is all of the murders in 2014.  Blue is non-firearm, orange and gray represent firearm murder, and gray is murders where a rifle was used... All 248 of them.  

Now, the math:

Of the 318,900,000 or so people in the USA, 248 of them were killed by a rifle.

For comparison, in 2012 (the latest year for which I could readily find data), 722 people were killed in bicycle accidents in the US (almost three times as many as killed by rifles.)

So tell me again how banning the AR-15 is going to make any significant impact on death in the US.

I'll wait.

October 27, 2015

All Your Physics Are Belong to Us

I read this post on the Face Crack Space Book the other day, from a fairly left-ish friend of mine (Yes, I do have liberal friends) about women's health and abortions and such, and the message was "New Rule: If you don't have a vagina, you don't get to make laws about vaginas".

I was reminded of this today when I read this article:

Gun Lobby Pushes to Loosen Restrictions on Silencers

And it kinda dawned on me... "New Rule: If you don't know anything about guns, you don't get to make laws about guns."

Because this guy simply doesn't know a damn thing about guns, or more specifically, the bullets they shoot:

Gun silencers could also be misused by well-intentioned hunters, putting families who live near hunting lands and gun ranges in even more danger, critics say.
“It’s only a matter of time until a silenced round injures or kills an innocent person who had no opportunity to hear the report of gunfire and find cover,” warned Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Got that?

Did you miss it?  Read it again.


A bullet from the most common rifle platform in America, the AR-15 in 5.56 NATO, will be traveling at around 3,100 feet per second (roughly... velocity, naturally, depends on a number of factors, not the least of which are barrel length, cartridge load, barometric pressure, and humidity.)

According to the Wiki, the speed of sound in 20C dry air is 1,126 feet per second. 

So, according to Mr. Everitt (no physics scholar, that one), an innocent bystander that hears a gunshot would have time to react (presumably by soiling himself and going prone) despite the fact that the bullet is travelling nearly THREE TIMES FASTER than the sound itself.  

If you don't understand guns, then stop trying to tell us how dangerous they are.  

October 24, 2015

Situational Awareness: Doing It Wrong

I've spent a few hours yesterday at a cheerleading competition where Elder Spawn is competing with her high school JV squad. 

It is truly astounding how many people are walking around, face buried in their phines, no f--king CLUE who is around them, what's going on, where they are, etc.

Overheard one cheer mom suddenly explain "Wait, where are we and how did we get here?  Isn't the exit back there?  I'm lost..."

Pro Tip: Eyes open, look up.  You don't always need to have your head in a swivel, but it'd be a decent idea to be in the world around you, and handle your Twitter updates later.

October 21, 2015

Thoughts from the Tree Stand

Spent a few hours this past weekend in the tree stand each morning, hoping Bambi or Bambi's larger kin would wander close enough to let me shoot the thing with the crossbow.

Saturday morning I saw a decent sized 4 or 6 point buck (from his position and distance, I couldn't tell) about 40 yards away.  He walked the SAME PATH that I take from the parking area to my tree stand.  Seriously, came in between the same two saplings that I walked 3 hours prior.  Hey, at least my scent control is working, right?

Anyway, he stopped, facing my stand direct on, about 40 yards away (38, if I remember range findings correctly), and stared directly towards me.  I'd seen him coming in, so I already had the safety off, the optic lit, and was turned towards him, sitting as motionless as I could.  We started at each other for a few minutes, me silently begging him "C'mon, c'mon... just a bit closer, then turn", but he finally did an abrupt 180 and bounced off.

Had I been carrying a firearm, he'd be in the freezer by now, but as it is still bow season, I didn't think that I had an ethical shot.  Forty yards is right at the edge of my comfort zone with the crossbow, and a direct facing shot leaves not much target area.  Had he turned, I'd have sent it.  Had he been 20 yards or less, facing me, I'd have sent.  But at 40 yards and facing, I didn't feel right taking the shot.

Sunday, saw three does.  They came in from behind me, about my 5 o'clock position, so I didn't see them until too late.  I tried to turn very slowly and quietly, and my boot *CLANGED* on the tree stand, which naturally sent them running.

No matter the turn out, I was in the woods on a crisp fall morning two days in a row.  It was my wits and skill against nature's, and she won.  But I'll be back out again next weekend.

Those two mornings didn't fill my freezer with meat, but it sure helped sooth my troubled mind and soul, and that's worth the price of admission.

October 6, 2015


* We've had a very busy summer and early fall at the Casa d' JB.  We hit up the local farmer's market and the garden out back, and spent a few weekends canning 28 pints of green beans and 18 pints of tomato sauce for pasta and 18 pints of hot and medium salsa.  Plenty of food in storage, however.

* I bought a quarter of a cow as well.  Came out to about $3.30/pound, including butcher fees, and was 198 pounds total.  It's nice to have a good supply of meat in the freezer.  

* We had a tree in the back yard that died from the Emerald Ash Borer infection.  A local tree service cut it down for us, and now I'm going at it with the chain saw to reduce it to firewood.  It's a good sized tree, too, so it's taking a while.  So far, I have 18 inch logs stacked 4 feet high and 27 feet long, yet to be split.  Oh, and that doesn't include the main trunk, which is 3 feet diameter, 20 feet long.  

* I am not cut out to be a lumberjack.

* Been working my rump off at work, trying to bring in a few extra dollars.  We've got a performance system at work where if I meet certain metrics, I get a few extra dollars.  So far, I've exceeded those metrics every month except one this year, so the extra coin has been helpful as we pay down the medical bills from Spawn the Younger's broken arm.

* I need to go shooting more.

* Missus JB fought off a pretty nasty ear infection this past few days.  The last time she had one this bad, it went rogue and ended up in her brain, causing bacterial meningitis.  Fortunately, this time we hammered it HARD with antibiotics.  Two different pills plus ear drops, some pain killers, and she's feeling better.  I spent much of the past weekend tending to her, bringing lots of soup and tea, and letting her sleep while I ran the house and did the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  Not the traditional "man work" according to some, but in our house, we share that sort of stuff.

* Most computer end-users are total morons.  I could make a fortune teaching people the basics, like how to change a password or what it means to right click an icon.

That's all for now.