Sometimes you come across some good stuff on the interwebs…
February 10 – 11 you can download a FREE Kindle edition of the award winning story Three Righteous Souls on Amazon.com.
Please enjoy the story, and leave a review.
With the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6, 2018, Elon Musk sent his personal automobile into space, and paid tribute to two Sci-Fi memes that truly deserve it.
On the dashboard of the roadster is a plaque that reads “Don’t Panic” in large friendly letters. Most Sci-Fi enthusiasts recognize this being from the book/radio/TV/Film “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. (The book and the old BBC TV versions BURY that abomination of a film from 2005. )
But why the car…?
Two words “Heavy Metal”.
Best known as an “Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine”, Heavy Metal is a comic book for grownups.
In 1981 HM released a feature animated film under the name “Heavy Metal” featuring the voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis, John Vernon, and a number of other major Hollywood stars.
WARNING! This is NOT a kid film by any means, but it is well worth the time of animation aficionados.
The tie in to Mr. Musk’s roadster comes in the opening credits in a scene called “Soft Landing”.
Hang on, it’s a wild ride!
Big News Fellow Scots!
The Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games is moving to Decatur.
From the REAL NEWS page:
The 32nd Annual Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games at Wise County Fairgrounds in Decatur, TX! SAVE THE DATE – May 11 – 13th, 2018!
Image courtesy of Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games
By Michael Morgan
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
This is the continuing story of Emma Pitts after the end of Three Righteous Souls, now available in the Amazon Kindle Store.
“Alright you wogs! Off the bus! GO! GO! GO!” The unidentified voice screamed its way down the aisle. Cries of pain and the crackle-pop of a Taser dragged Emma out of her nightmare into nightmarish reality just as the screamer passed by her seat again. Pain stabbing into her thigh slammed her forehead on the back of the seat ahead of hers, but the screamer forgot to trigger the electric shock before he turned his attention elsewhere.
“Bend over! Touch your toes!” Screamer yelled at the uneven line of people standing in an open field in front of the bus’s headlights. “Get to it! Grab those toes!”
Emma glanced along the line as her fingertips just barely reached her shoes. An obese woman half-way down was dragged out of line by her hair and thrown to the ground.
“Get up wog!” Screamer kicked the sobbing woman. “You’re gonna get ground up and fed to the troops piggie!” Another kick as the woman struggled to her feet and almost fell again.
“You cain’ treat people like that!” a man stood and made to help the staggering woman gain her balance.
“Who’s she to you?” Screamer demanded. “Yo’ wife?! Yo’ girlfriend?! Yo’ mama?!”
“She’s nobody to me,” the man said. “But she don’t deserve to be treated like that! None of us do!”
“I see,” Screamer sounded almost reasonable for someone still yelling to be heard. “We have ourselves a HERO! Ever’body look! Here’s a Gen-u-wine HERO comin’ to the aid of a damsel in distress!”
A pistol appeared in Screamer’s hand, and the man crumpled to the ground before the sound of the shot registered on Emma’s consciousness. The second shot dropped the woman before she could protest.
“I better see everyone looking at their toes and nothing but their toes!” Screamer paused for breath, “Those people were mutineers! They were dealt with the way we deal with ALL mutineers!” He walked to the end of the line furthest from the bus, “As I walk this line, I will give each of you a number! You will remember your number!” He tapped the first person in line with his shock baton, “Two!”
Emma watched and listened as the numbers were shouted out. Each person who could get close to touching their toes got a One. Between knee and ankle got a two. Knee or less, Three.
“One and Twos back on the bus!” Screamer ordered. The bus drove away leaving the Threes milling about in the dark field.
— 2 —
“Knockers! Front and Center!”
The order snapped Emma awake. She had almost dozed off leaning against the splintery wood siding that cloaked the deserted farmhouse they were assaulting. Knockers, the nickname made her grind her teeth as she sprinted around the corner of the house.
“Knockers! Door!” Patrol Leader Mulvaney ordered as Emma reached behind her head and dragged the sledgehammer from its sling on her back. Taking the handle in both hands, Emma braced herself, and swung. She was barely able to dive off the porch before the eight-man stick followed the door inward. Shouts of “Clear!” emerged as Emma retrieved her hammer and slung it. Every patrol had someone that carried the tools. Sledgehammer, crowbar, and a shotgun with special breeching rounds. Female, male, or not quite certain, that person was called Knockers.
The indignity of the name came with few perquisites. You always got to be last in line, until of course, something had to be forced open. Then it was your ass standing in front of the door, vehicle, or whatever hoping your next action was not going to get you killed. Emma had been “promoted” when the previous Knockers triggered an IED by testing a doorknob to see if it was unlocked. Emma used the hammer.
Of course, Knockers was never truly the last in line. That spot was always occupied by Screamer, otherwise known as Commissioner George Silas, whose job it was to insure everyone in the patrol showed the proper amount of enthusiasm when engaging the enemy. Silas had worked his way up through Red Militia movement, and he was committed to see this war through to a successful conclusion. What constituted a “successful conclusion” seemed to vary, but he wore eight black stripes on his uniform sleeve. A stripe for each “mutineer” or “deserter” he had executed personally.
Mulvaney walked out of the house, “Building secure.”
Silas clicked the stopwatch behind Emma making her eye flinch slightly. The sound too close to the noise of a safety being released. “Very good, patrol,” Silas sounded pleased. “Especially you Knockers. Got that door on the first try.”
Emma turned to face him, “Thank you sir.”
Silas looked at the gathered patrol, “Alright you wogs! Police up this area! No signs we were ever here! Kockers, get that door back in place for the next team, and…make it a challenge for them.”
“Ten hut!” Mulvaney and the rest of the patrol snapped to attention and saluted as Silas strode away. Once he was out of earshot, Mulvaney dismissed the team, “You heard the man. Git ‘er done!”
— 3 —
The second hammer blow opened the door. Emma had time to recognize a very large gun muzzle before a sledgehammer smashed in her chest and pitched her over backwards. The teenager holding the gun died as she was stitched from groin to collarbone by Murphy’s AK.
More shots rang out as the stick fanned out through the building. Emma lay on her back gasping to recover the air knocked from her lungs. Finally, the shouts of “Clear!” faded out, and Mulvaney appeared at the edge of her vision offering a hand up. “C’mon, upsy-daisy,” Mulvaney said as he helped her get her balance.
“Thanks Mully,” Emma touch-checked her gear before bending stiffly to retrieve her shotgun.
“Thank DuPont for Kevlar,” Mulvaney joked. “And be glad that bitch didn’t have an AK.”
Murphy came out of the building with a fistful of plastic cards. He handed the deck over to Mulvaney, “Typical LU-LU ID cards. This group was Honduran.”
“Weapons?” asked Commissioner Silas as he joined the group. Emma stifled the urge to cringe away from the man as he placed a comradely arm around her shoulders.
“Usual. Machetes, hatchets, a couple of pistols,” Murphy nodded to Emma. “And a shotgun.”
“Supplies?” asked Mulvaney.
“Dried rice, beans, and corn. Some cans with US labels, and what was probably a dog cooking in back.” Murphy answered. “In pretty good physical condition. No obvious wounds or disease. LULU-NOOB types.”
“Survivors?” Silas snarked.
Mulvaney did not wait for Murphy to answer, “No survivors. Our casualties?”
“Knockers the only one hit,” Murphy said. “She didn’t sing out, so I guess she’s OK.”
Mulvaney looked Emma in the eye, and she gave him a weak thumbs-up. Mully put on his best British accent, “Right! On to the next one!”
Basic, or what they had called Basic, lasted three weeks. Just long enough to weed out the rebellious hot heads and terminal weaklings. Emma only remembered one lesson from Basic. The US was in a war with all of Central and South America. The cause of the war was never quite explained, but what was clearly explained was the US Military was otherwise engaged overseas, and she had been drafted into the Federal Militia. Their job was to push back the invasion of Latinos Unidos troops.
If they could not hold their ground, a general call up of every able-bodied person between age twelve and seventy-five would be necessary to assure victory. Emma had two very important reasons to hold her ground, and those reasons were locked up in some government relocation center. Somewhere.
I have to say the lady in charge of the Winkel Ranch operation has a well-oiled machine moving hunters through her office. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the experience.
I can’t make any claims to being Billy Dixon or Jim Bridger. I do know about scent control, noise discipline, and how to be still for hours. All of these things have allowed me success on hunts in other places like Moseley hunting Camp just down the road in Castell, TX.
Check-in at the Winkel Ranch Office was at 11:00AM on Friday (12/1/17). Dad and I were the only 2-man team around that day, so we got the smallest section of the 4,000+ acres Winkel leases. That becomes important later in the story.
The rules were laid out as:
1 Buck each – Spike or 8+ Points only (Wow! That narrows down the opportunities.)
1 Doe for the two of us. (Meh, no big deal. I hunt meat, and don’t care about trophies.)
2 Feral hogs each (Now we’re talkin’! But most places don’t limit your hog take. Hmmmm.)
1 Turkey each (OK. I can live with that.)
All of the coyotes we could eat – Llano County was offering a $70 bounty on coyotes, so we had a chance to earn back some of our expenses, or we thought we did.
Now the catch: No night hunting, and no lights.
For those who don’t know, feral hogs and coyotes are mostly nocturnal…Bummer.
Well, you pays your money and takes your beatings.
The section we were assigned to was rough and I do mean rough.
The “road” has probably not been graded in 5 years making 4-wheel drive mandatory.
The only water was an algae covered pond. No moving water on the section.
Only 1 feeder on 200 acres, but it was throwing corn.
The stands/blinds were a real puzzle. Normal practice is to set them up to cover an attractant (food, salt lick, water) or one of the game trails between one of the attractant locations. Of the 4 stations on the section NONE of them were anywhere close to one of the aforementioned attractants or trails. None, zero, zip, nada. When we checked out after our weekend, we were told the stands had been in the same spots for “a long time”.
Obviously, this plot is just a way to bleed off a hunter’s hard-earned cash.
Hunting from the blinds on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning allowed us to listen to turkey hens clucking in the brush. Nothing else was moving, so we abandoned the blinds and sat on the water hole.
Saturday afternoon was not looking promising either until a lone coyote came along. Once Mr. Coyote was safely in the bag, we tried a distressed rabbit call to see if any other coyotes wanted to stop by, but we had no takers.
Sunday morning we still hunted most of that property and found some scat that was at least a week old (dark black pellets), some chewed prickly pear fruit (dried out), and nothing bigger than a cotton tail rabbit, so back to the water hole. We finished out the hunt with just the 1 coyote.
The most telling thing over the course of the entire weekend was the lack of gunfire from adjacent parcels. When we were chcking in, we were told a party of 10 hunters was going to be on the adjacent section of Winkel land, but it was pretty obvious they did not see any deer either.
As we were checking out on Sunday, one of the Winkel hands came around to do the bounty paperwork on the coyote, and he told us that nobody had taken anything out of our section or the adjacent section in two weeks.
Thoughts on Conservation
I’m not beating up the Winkel Ranch people because I had a bad hunt. I’m holding them up as an example of what I consider poor business management. Back in July, I had a similar experience hunting hogs near Bridgeport, TX. Two nights in the blind and not one hog as far as the night vision could see.
Llano TX makes a ton of its money from Whitetail deer hunting every year, and I have to wonder if they have been too aggressive in their marketing efforts to the detriment of the deer population. Over-leasing the ranches is going to kill the local economy because hunters will take their money elsewhere.
I encourage hunters to be more selective in their choices of hunt packages by demanding to know how many animals have been harvested on a given plot before they put their money down. If the claims are not back up by photo evidence, then call another outfitter. Personally, I think I’m going to switch to hunting exotics and feral hogs, and take my money along with me. The best part of exotics and pigs is they are non-game species, so no off-seasons giving me more hunts per year.
If the land owners start losing revenue, then improvements will be made, but as long as hunters keep passing over the cash and taking whatever we get, we won’t be getting much.
Local Wild Life
Since we could not hunt after dark, we go the chance to enjoy some of Llano’s local restaurants.
By far the best food we have had in several trips to Llano was Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant (101 E. Grayson St. llano Tx 78643). They recently expanded from a hole in the wall to a very nicely decorated and airy venue. The restaurant is family owned and operated, and they serve generous helpings of quality Tex-Mex at fair prices. If you go through Llano, Rosita’s is worth your time.
We tried the Hungry Hunter for the first time. It had all of the “country” and none of the “goodness”. Consider yourself warned.
Llano Feed & Supply is where we buy our corn and alfalfa pellets for bait. They are a bit off the beaten path (3 blocks south of Highway 29), but they are good folks to deal with. Make sure to say hello to Thomas, and tell him you read about him on the Internet. He’ll appreciate that.
Reasons for Everything
Dad and I had a great time together. We talked. told stories, and debated the world crises. Mostly we enjoyed each other’s company, and that’s what these trips are really about.
Sometimes a special occasion or person comes along that requires a truly unique gift.
When Boss’ Day came along this year, my team was stumped on what to do for our Fearless Leader. A co-worker presented us with an idea for a custom comic book cover.
We took a chance, and the results could not have been better.
Portraits By Swains really came through. Give them a thought the next time you’re not sure what that special person really deserves.
…just add water?
I saw the video on towel pellets, and it looks like a potential lifesaver for people who like the outdoors, have kids, & etc.
They may seem a bit pricey, but the space/weight savings over traditional handi-wipes and toilet paper make them seem very attractive.
The quote in the title is attributed to William B. (aka Bat) Masterson, lawman, buffalo hunter, and participant in the Battle of Adobe Walls. Supposedly, Masterson was describing the necessary/desirable qualities of a gunfighter. Of these four qualities, Deliberation is the most interesting because it represents a state of mind that appears to have fallen out of use in the modern age.
Many people are determined to “do something”, “make something happen”, “bring about change”, ad infinitum. Almost all of them are victims of the psychological disease called “Instant Gratification Disorder”, so speed is of the utmost importance.
The fallacy of this thinking is the amazing amount of human effort being expended toward various goals while achieving little or nothing in the form of real results. A lack of adequate Deliberation is the overwhelming cause of this failure to achieve results.
Merriam-Webster.com defines the word Deliberation as: “the act of thinking about or discussing something and deciding carefully”
OxfordDictionaries.com expounds further by including “Slow and careful movement or thought.”
Without careful thought and planning the objective of the action, the “What”, we want to do lacks clarity. If the “How” of our action plan is not carefully considered and balanced against our ability to deliver the required effort, the “When” can never be pinned down, and our results cannot be predicted with any certainty. How do we know if we succeeded if we did not know exactly what we wanted to accomplish when we set out?
Why is this important? Because the notion of deliberately placing a single round in a target and “making meat”, as the mountain men used to say, has become something akin to black magic for many shooters. Military snipers, and SWAT marksmen, are held up as being the best of the best shooters on planet Earth, and routinely capable of making shots unattainable by mere mortals. These shooters have talent, no doubt about it, but they start with deliberation and practice. A LOT of practice.
At the beginning of the 1992 version of The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day Lewis the story starts off with Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook chasing a deer through the forest. Finally, Hawkeye gets ahead of the stag, and unlimbers his flintlock. Taking careful aim, he kills the deer with his one available shot.
Before cartridge firearms became the norm, most guns fired one or two shots before a cumbersome reloading process was required. This meant the shooter had to be careful and take his time making his shot, or he went hungry. He was deliberate even when he was in a hurry.
Unfortunately, the modern substitute for deliberation and practice is high volumes of fire. The problems with this approach are:
- Stray rounds hitting things that should not be shot.
- Wounded animals that suffer and die because
- The poor critter was hit in an area that was not immediately fatal.
- Along with deliberate marksmanship, tracking skills have fallen off the critical skills list for the “ditherers in red jackets” as Jeff Cooper called them.
- An extensive logistics train is required to keep a soldier in the field supplied.
So let’s circle back.
Q: What do we want to do?
A: Place a bullet in a target.
Q: When does it need to happen?
A: Before the target moves out of view. In other words, ASAP.
Q: How will this be done?
A: Now we have to THINK!
- How far away is the target?
- How much will my bullet drop (fall towards the Earth) over that distance?
- How far above the target do I need to hold to compensate for the drop? (This is elevation.)
- How strong is the wind blowing?
- How much will my bullet be blown off course over the distance to the target?
- How much to one side do I need to hold to compensate? (This is windage.)
Now that I have asked the questions, and come up with the answers, I can adjust the place where my sights are looking, and I am ready to press/squeeze the trigger with intention to send the round on its way.
What? You don’t have the answer for half of those questions? In that case, you can count on the hard fact that pumping a whole bushel of bullets at the target is not going to significantly improve your chances of hitting your quarry.
The upside is these factors are not that difficult to come up with based on the simple exercise of sighing in your rifle for a given range and working backwards.
My Speer Reloading Manual has ballistics tables in the back that tells me in general terms how my bullet will behave in flight.
When I sight in my rifle, I set the scope so the bullet impacts 2 inches above the center of the target at 100 yards. For my load, 2 inches high at 100 yards should hit the center of the bull’s eye at 200 yards, and be about 8 inches low at 300 yards as the bullet slows down and gravity pulls it earthward.
In the field, I know that deer and hogs both have a vital zone 6 to 8 inches in diameter, so that is the area, I need to put my bullet into to make a clean and humane harvest.
Sighted in 2 inches high means I can aim at the center of the vital area from 1 to 200 yards and my bullet will go where it needs to be. All I have to do is align the sights and squeeze the trigger intentionally.
If the critter is between 200 and 300 yards, I have to hold my crosshairs so the horizontal crosshair is lying along the animal’s spine, and the lower half of the vertical line crosses the vital area, then apply the trigger. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never had to shoot at a game animal that far away. All of my game has been taken at 100 yards or less. This is an explanation of how the mechanics work.
Windage is a bit harder to judge without a tool to measure the wind speed, and some math skills to figure out the deflection. Using my general purpose load, I don’t worry about a crosswind from 1 – 100 yards unless the grass is being blown flat. From 100-200 yards, I would aim into the wind just a bit, and should be close enough to do the job.
My scope reticle looks like this:
The distance between the spot where the wires cross in the center and the point where the lines get fatter represents about 3 inches if I am looking at a target 100 yards away. It covers 6 inches at 200 yards.
If I want to shoot at a target at 300 yards, the fat line starts 9 inches from the cross, so I hold the horizontal line along the critter’s back, and hold the top of the lower fat line (red circle) over the vital zone of my target.
If the wind is coming hard from my right it is going to push my bullet to my left, so I use my knowledge of distance, and my scope to compensate by using point where the left wire gets fat as my aiming point. Keep in mind this type of windage is really only necessary at ranges over 200 yards.
Now I can combine these two techniques to adjust elevation and windage to address targets at ranges over 200 yards. Assuming I have a target from 200 – 300 yards out, and a strong crosswind coming from my right. I end up with my scope reticle looking like it is way off target.
What I am really doing is drawing an imaginary vertical line off the end of the fat horizontal line and an imaginary horizontal line off the lower vertical fat line. Where those imaginary lines cross is approximately where my bullet will hit.
Now that I know all of this, I go out and shoot. A LOT!
If your primary rifle is too expensive to shoot often, you can learn to reload, or you can get a rifle chambered for .22 Long Rifle ammunition that matches your main rifle. Put on a rimfire scope that has the same type of reticle as your main scope.
Now get out there and make every shot DELIBERATELY.
Since nobody in DC has been able to forward any kind of plan that doesn’t cut into their campaign funding from Big Insurance, I thought I would put forward my plan to address several issues related to national healthcare and put a nice bow on top. Feel free to add your thoughts, just remember this is a family-friendly blog, so keep things polite and constructive.
Issue 1: Myth: “Doctors make too Damned much money.”
They also carry a ton of student debt, malpractice insurance, and other peripheral costs associated with being in practice. All of this gets passed to the consumer/health insurers.
Issue 2: We don’t have enough doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to go around. this especially impacts rural communities and inner-city areas.
Issue 3: Citizens lack access to healthcare.
(Before people start spouting off about this plan being limited to Citizens, let’s face the fact that there is only just so much to go around, and our Citizens MUST come first, last, and always. When I visit other countries as a tourist, I must provide proof of medical insurance in order to get a visa. Just because I get a work permit in another country, I am not automatically eligible for non-emergency healthcare. Let’s be FAIR about this.)
Solution 1 & 2: Anyone that goes to medical school and obtains their state mandated license as a physician, nurse practitioner, RN, LVN, etc, etc ad nausea can volunteer to be assigned to work in a Federal Healthcare Outlet (FHO) that generally mimics the form of a Quack Shack/Minor Emergency clinic. All licensed medical and mental health practitioners are eligible to participate in the FHO program.
In exchange for their employment, an FHO practitioner will be paid a flat salary of $50,000 per year for Doctors (MD or MSW in the case of Social workers), $45,000 per year for everyone else so they can keep body and soul together. In addition to this, the government will forgive $25,000 of student debt per year worked, and cover the costs of the practitioner’s malpractice insurance.
FHO practitioners can receive free treatment through the FHO system or VA hospital system.
Solution 3: These FHOs can be put up wherever they are needed, and will offer the medical services required to cover 80% of the services required by the public. This brings healthcare to the places where people need it, and makes qualified practitioners available in all areas.
FHO staff members will be assigned to an FHO location based on local needs, and relocation assistance will be provided in the same form that military relocation services are handled.
The cost of medical services through the FHO will be based on the patient’s Federal Income Tax bracket using a percentage of annual income as reported in the last year. (Easily accessible since this is a Federal facility. I’m sure some smart programmers can set this up for less than $10,000 and keep it HIPPA compliant. In fact I know several people who could do this in their sleep.)
Medicaid and Medicare recipients are handled under their existing benefits schedule.
Veterans can access services through their local FHO the same way they can through the VA.
The upshot of this plan is a Citizen only needs to carry insurance policies for catastrophic medical events, and if they choose to, they can carry long-term disability/care. This eliminates the personal mandate that so many find objectionable, and makes care universally available without all of the fraud and graft associated with medical insurers.
People (Citizens and Non-citizens) who want to carry their own insurance, and employers who wish to offer coverage to their employees are free to do so.