Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boom Boom Boom Booom!

So, in preparations for a squirrel hunting trek coming up in a couple weeks, I went shooting yesterday afternoon. The real need was to pattern my .62 caliber fowler (identical to the one in the header of this page, just without the sling lug). I have shot this gun probably 100-150 times, but always just shooting round ball. So I went to one of the places I can safely shoot and loaded 'er up.

I started out shooting 75-grain powder loads with an equal measure of shot. For those of you who have never shot a muzzle-loading shotgun it takes a little bit of work. My first load I poured the powder down, then put in a nitro card over the powder, followed by a cushion wad, which I had to start down the barrel about 3 inches. Then, the measure of shot and an overshot card. All this, I started to run down the barrel.

Problem. The cards and wad, combined with the powder blocking the touch hole, created a pressure chamber which made it almost impossible to get the load all the way down.

The rest of the loads, I seated the nitro card and cushion wad on the powder before pouring the shot. This worked quite a bit better.

On to the shooting. I had a piece of cardboard that I was shooting at which would allow me to check for holes or irregularities in the pattern. With the cards and wad, I consistently got patterns of about 20" at 15 yards. Really good patterns.

I also did a couple shots with flax tow for wads over the powder and over the shot. This worked as well, but was not quite as uniform of a pattern. Tried using grass as well, with similar results to the tow. It would kill a squirrel on a tree limb, but if I were shooting birds I would probably want to stick with the cards and wad.

Nest challenges? Pattern the .62 caliber flintlock pistol and start shooting trap/clays with the fowler.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Music Monday-City of New Orleans

Sorry for the light posting. I was having internet problems last week, and was at a rendezvous over the weekend.

Anyway, on to the music.

This week's selection of Great Music is a piece composed by the late, great, Steve Goodman, who also composed a couple other great songs about my favorite baseball team, including "Go, Cubs, Go" and "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request". Goodman also wrote, with John Prine, the David Allen Coe song "You Never Even Call Me By My Name."

But the song chosen for this weeks Great Music is "City of New Orleans." Arlo Guthrie made it famous, but countless others have covered the song. Willie Nelson got Goodman a posthumous Grammy award for the song. The song takes you on a trip from Chicago to New Orleans riding the rails on "their father's magic carpet made of steel."

The video is from a live concert of the super-group The Highwayman, which includes Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings.

So All Aboard for a "Southbound Odyssey."

As always, leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Great Music Monday-Four Green Fields

While at the Blogcrawl on Saturday night, Wes of Bodhran Roll, Please and I were talking about some of the previous selections of Great Music, in particular some of the Celtic pieces that have made the cut.

During the conversation, Wes mentioned a song that he was reminded of when listening to last week's selection, Kilkelly.

The song? This week's piece is a song written by "The Godfather of Irish Music," "The Bard of Armagh," Tommy Makem.

Four Green Fields. From wikipedia: is a 1967 folk song by Irish musician Tommy Makem, described in the New York Times as a "hallowed Irish leave-us-alone-with-our-beauty ballad."[1] Of Makem's many compositions, it has become the most familiar, and is part of the common repertoire of Irish folk musicians.[2]

The song tells of an old woman who had four green fields; and how strangers tried to take them from her; and how her sons died trying to defend them. Its middle stanza is a description of the violence and deprivation experienced by the Irish, including the people in Northern Ireland (part of the UK), though the British are not explicitly identified (nor Saxons, nor Danes). At the end of the song, one of her fields remains out of her hands:

"But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers;
My fourth green field will bloom once again," said she.

The song is interpreted as a parable of the British colonisation of Ireland and the current status of Northern Ireland. The four fields are the Provinces of Ireland with Ulster being the "field" that is still in British hands, the old woman a traditional personification of Ireland herself (see Kathleen Ni Houlihan).

Makem frequently described the song as having been inspired by a drive through the "no man's land" adjoining Northern Ireland, where he saw an old woman tending livestock. She was oblivious to the political boundaries that loomed so large in the public's eye; the land was older than the argument, and she didn't care what was shown on the map.

The song's penultimate line ("But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers") is often interpreted, sometimes critically, as support for militant Irish nationalist groups like the Irish Republican Army (IRA). However, the song had been written prior to the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and decades after the Anglo Irish War and Irish Civil War. The song was (arguably) mirroring what some might believe to be a romanticised view that many Northern Irish people had of militant republicanism at the time, and perhaps still do today. It also reflected the tension of daily life in the face of a military occupation, where one was advised, regardless of politics: "Whatever you say, say nothing", to quote a popular song in Makem's repertoire. On emigrating to the U.S., Makem was astonished to find a cordial relationship between the public and its police force, something he had not experienced in Armagh.[citation needed] This penultimate line is sometimes sung as, "But peace will come, my lands will be united".

Makem commonly sung the song as an encore.

The video is a slideshow that someone created and posted just a few weeks prior to Tommy's death on August 1, 2007.

Please leave thoughts or suggestions in the comments.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Sitting at a picnic table, drunk and crawl from blog to blog.

Whoo hoot.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Found the New Adventure

If you remember back in July, I told you about looking for a new adventure.

Well, I have found one. Sorta. It's not really new. Since I have been involved in it for over 15 years.

If you haven't caught on yet, I have rejoined the workforce and am off of stupid f&^king unemployment that paid crap.

I have gone to work full time in the family recycling business. My official position is Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Safety. So far, most of my work has been distributing curbside tote bins in communities where we have programs. I am also going to be getting my CDL to be able to fill in running roll-off containers or evening doing curbside collections.

The business started 15 years ago chopping newspaper as animal bedding with our forage chopper and square baler in the farm machine shed. Now we have 25 full time employees, four curbside trucks, one hook-lift roll-off truck, and we have programs in all or part of 8 Western Illinois Counties.

The benefits package is pretty fair. 15 days paid-time-off. 6 paid holidays. Health Insurance. IRA. Plus, they are pretty much going to be paying for all my fuel since I am using my truck to do the deliveries routes I have been working on, which includes pulling a trailer and lots of stop and go. Of course the company should pay for the fuel and such doing this work, but I can also use this fuel to do my own running.

The only downside to this new position is the pay cut I took. To the tune of about $13,000/year. Now before anybody reading this flips out on me let me explain a little bit. My old job, I had a 100 mile/day commute which was costing me $100-$125/week in fuel, which translates to $5,500/year that I won't be spending just to get to and from work. And since I am also getting fuel put in my truck, that saves another probably $500-$1,000/year of personal driving. Plus, I don't have to spend 2 hours/day on the road plus do the job. Granted, I may have some 9 and 10 hour days, but the 5 minute commute is nice. So really, I have only taken a cut of about $7,000/year. Which requires more careful budgeting to make my truck payments and pay my other bills. Plus, I pretty much have to quit carrying my credit cards. Although, that is not all a bad thing. I had racked up a HUGE credit card debt. In the 5-figure range. Ended up cashing in a bunch of savings bonds, dating back to when I was just a really young kid, just to get them paid off so I wasn't paying $200/month in interest.

I also have some other flexibility in my schedule to get personal business done, like banking, attending civic functions for groups I belong to, and if I need some extra time off I can get it. Like this week, I was trying to get the ONW Newsletter finished and into the mail. I didn't get started running copies until 6:30 Tuesday night. I was able to work late Tuesday night to finish up the newsletter and start work late.

Anyway, I am a back to work and it is kinda nice. Although, I wouldn't mind being retired already.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bluegrass Sunday...

...with and Celtic twist.

In this week's Great Music Monday post, I mentioned being inspired by the night before.

So, here in the words of Paul Harvey, is the rest of the story.

Sunday afternoon I headed down to Wil, Red, and Ark-Builder's house to work with Ark-Builder on his 1st Degree Catechism for Masonic Lodge. After a couple hours of practice and the arrival of Teme and the Man From Ohio, we had a good dinner of chili and then headed off to Budde's in Galesburg for Bluegrass Sunday.

Bluegrass Sunday is basically a jam session/open mic night for Bluegrass. Spoon River String Band played for a while, and then some other played. They were all good, except one dumbass, trying to do some sort of modern alternative music. It was all we could do to stop Wil from booing him off stage. At one point, I had to turn around because I thought a woman had started singing with him. But no. It was just this same guy. He was douche-worthy.

There was also some "guy" there who was just getting ready to start playing when we left about 10:30. He was wearing a sweater with flowers down the sleeves, just like your grandmother wears, accented with the scarf and a purse. And I do mean a purse! All the while, sporting a beard. Wil knew him.

Anywho, after a couple of hours, there was no one on stage so they told me I should go up and do a couple Celtic songs. First one out of the gate, "Goddamn Dutch." I don't know how many times I have sung this song in the past, but this night, I actually offended somebody. Come to find out, this guy had moved to the area from the Netherlands a little over a year ago.

After a little while I went up and did a couple of other songs, including the "7 Drunken Nights," "The Minstrel Boy," and "General Taylor." After I did one or two songs, I went back to my beer and another guy got up and did "A Nation Once Again." Then one of the bartenders got up and did a couple of humorous songs, including one called "Viagra in the Water" about a truckload of Viagra crashing into a town's water supply.

Then the guy from the Netherlands, who had been playing bass for a few numbers earlier got up and did a song native to his country. It was pretty dang cool. This was followed by the guy who had done Nation Once Again doing a song, I guess, from "The Sound of Music" and then following up with "Black and Tans." This of course forced me to do two more songs. I figured since my new Dutch friend was doing a song from his country, I would welcome him to the land of the Swedes (there is a HUGE Swedish population in this area), so I did my best rendition of the intro of "Swedish Chef" from The Muppet Show. Complete with the "Bork!Bork!Bork!" And then I followed up that with my final song for the evening since we were getting ready to leave, "The Parting Glass."

Evidently, the Celtic stuff went over pretty well, as I was heading for the door, the wife of the owner stopped me and said how much she enjoyed the stuff I had done. As we were going down the road, Ark-Builder, who also works at that bar, said the owner's wife told him he was responsible for bringing me back for the high holy holiday in honor of St. Patrick.

Looks like I need to get really serious about doing some guitar practice and song learning. I think I now have two places to play around St. Paddy's next year.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Great Music Monday-Kilkelly

This week's selection is one I was inspired to do after the experience of last night, but that is another post for either later tonight or later this week.

Anywho, this week's GMM song is one that I originally heard on a CD by Father, Son, and Friends. The song is called "Kilkelly" and is based on a series of letters sent from a father living in Kilkelly, Ireland to his sons John and Michael who had come across the ocean to America. The letters cover the time period from 1860 to 1892.

The video for the song is actually of Robbie O'Connell with the Clancy Brothers. A little different version than I am used to, but a still just as moving.

As always, leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Great Music Monday-Momma Look Sharp

Damnit. A day late again. But this one is worth the wait.

While at home feeding Omar tonight, my folks had America's Got Talent on the tv. One performer in his video intro talked about his mother and sang a song about mothers. Which got my brain to wandering (not that I needed anything to help my mind wander, but this particular instance focused the wandering).

As my mind wandered, it traveled back to a rendezvous years ago and a song that a couple old friends used to sing.

The song comes from the musical "1776" and is titled "Momma Look Sharp." An amazing song from the point of view of a Revolutionary War soldier laying on the battlefield, shot and dieing, calling for his mother to come find him. At the end of the song she comes to him.

The lyrics (because they are very powerful):
Momma, hey momma, come lookin' for me
I'm here in the meadow by the red maple tree
Momma, hey momma, look sharp, here I be
Hey, hey, momma look sharp

Them soldiers, they fired. Oh ma, did we run
But then we turned round and the battle begun
Then I went under, oh ma, am I done?
Hey, hey, momma look sharp

My eyes are wide open, my face to the sky
Is that you I'm hearin' in the tall grass nearby?
Momma come find me before I do die
Hey, hey, momma look sharp

I'll close your eyes, my Billy
Them eyes that cannot see
And I'll bury you, my Billy
Beneath the maple tree
And never again will you whisper to me
Hey, hey, momma look sharp

The video is of a 2008 production of "1776" done at RMU (I don't know where or what this is).

Anywho. Simply an amazing piece.

As always, please leave thoughts or suggestions in the comments.


For some reason the stoopid embed of the video doesn't seem to be working, at least for me so here is a link to the video. Go watch it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Range Report - Sigma and PT1911

So this afternoon I went shooting to address a horrible injustice to myself.

I headed to one of our farms that has gotten overgrown and is far enough away from other houses that I can shoot. There is an old barn that needs bulldozed with a concrete cattle lot outside.

I set a a piece of plate steel and painted a some orange dots on it and shot several clips through the Smith & Wesson Sigma SW40VE. A .40 S&W caliber pistol. The gun functioned well, my biggest concern is the way shells eject. I would notice casing flying directly over the top of my head. The final casing out of one clip actually hit me in the forehead. I dunno about this. The recoil is very manageable, however, having not actually sighted it in, my shots were tending to be a little low at seven yards. I am going to need more range time to get the feel for this one, which worries me, as I want to be able to instinctively shoot a pistol, in case it would ever be needed for home or personal defense. But I am not giving up on it yet.

I also shot several clips through my Taurus PT1911, which is Brazilian gun maker Taurus' model of JMB's classic M1911. I have always wanted a 1911 and I saw this one on sale a couple months ago. Worth the money. Performed flawlessly. Like the .40 S&W, the recoil was very manageable and it really just felt good in my hands. Plain and simple, I like this gun. It is still in the back of my mind to change the factory knurled plastic grips to wood, but other than that, no changes. Just sight it in, but its does have a more natural point feel. Kinda like my Ruger P90 for me.

All in all, it was a good day on the range. The PT1911 proved itself worthwhile and the jury is still out on the Smith and Wesson Sigma.

I shot a video at the end of my shooting comparing how I shot the Sigma and the PT1911 straight out of the box. But YouTube is taking forever to upload right now. I'll embedded it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Frustrations and Progress

I haven't blogged about the Omar, my wonderpuppy in a while, so I thought tonight it would be a good way to multi-task.

Sarah Palin is giving her speech to the RNC. So far, sounds really good.

But anyway, the puppy.

Two and a half weeks ago Omar went to his first Rendezvous. All went very well. Other than Thursday night he thought it better to tug on his leash than lay down and sleep. After 5 minutes, I decided it was better to keep him in his routine. Short walk to the truck for his kennel and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Of course everyone loved him. And most couldn't believe he was only 14 weeks old. The only time he barked was when people played with him. And oh how people played with him. Hours and hours. Sunday night, Omar was so tired he didn't really feel like eating. But that cleared up quickly.

Fast forward a week. Sunday morning I went out to mow the yard and thought it would be a good chance to let Omar run off some extra energy. It takes me about 90 minutes to get the yard finished. The whole time Omar was free to run with the farm dog.

Big mistake. I have spent quite a bit of this week going back to basics. The problem is that Omar had decided it is more fun to run around chasing cats with the farm dog and ignore me than follow commands. But, after being caught off guard by the leash flying over his head and my imposing frame stepping between the two dogs, we are making progress.

Then, last weekend Omar went to his second rendezvous. We had kids running through the camp all weekend, the shooting range not too far away, coyotes outside of camp (not really close, but they were audible). He took it all in stride. The first bark all weekend? Monday as we were getting ready to tear down. Everyone was amazed. The Man From Ohio made a comment over the weekend (right after someone else's dog ran to the end of his chain barking at a young child and scared the child so much he cried), that he didn't really like dogs at rendezvous. But if they were all like Omar, it would be alright. The issue is that dogs like Omar attend events and are good dogs, and others see these good dogs and think "I can bring my dog, too" when their dog is not good around people.

And then to today. I got home around 5:30 and brought Omar out of his kennel. I don't know what it was but he seemed to have an extra shot of energy. We spent about 45 minutes outside running, playing, and training. I was able to somewhat get his focus when he was playing with the farm dog. Still not to the level of response I will demand, but progress. When he playing with the farm dog he was in and out of some 5'-7' weeds, so I decided to take him across the road to do some more work in tall grass. I about fell over laughing the way he was running around.

I shot some video on my phone, but can't figure out how in the hell to get it off the phone (if anyone can tell me how to get videos off a motorola razr v2, please help). So for now, enjoy the photos.

Omar sitting
Omar laying down
Omar running

Monday, September 1, 2008

Great Music Monday-40 Hour Week (For a Living)

Seeing as today is Labor Day. A celebration of the working men and women who make this country strong.

And just for the record, I didn't plan to have 2 song by Alabama in a row.

Anyway, this weeks song is 40 Hour Week (For a Living). The kind of song that sorta make you proud to be blue collar, and you can't seem to help but start singing along.

So for all those who work a 40 hour week (or more), Here's to you.

As always, leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments.