Saturday, November 29, 2008

First 45-70

When I was 10 or 11 years old my father let me shoot his Springfield Model 73 trapdoor 45-70. He sat me down, showed my how to load the weapon then stood back with my Uncle and laughed his ass off when the recoil rolled me over onto my back.

My son has heard that story for years. Yet that has not deterred him from wanting to shoot that 45-70 also. Yesterday I gave him his shot, so to speak. We had worked him up from the 22LR to my Winchester Model 94 30-30. He wasn't too impressed with the 30-30. It kicked a lot more than he was comfortable with. But even when I told him that the 45-70 was going to kick a lot harder he was undeterred.

Here is his first two shots with the 45-70.

Don't be ragging on his shooting style. Those were the first two shots he ever tried sitting down. He still needs a lot of work on his leg positions. But me just showing him how to do it doesn't seem to work with him. He will have to try it some more and wear himself out before he will believe me that there is a better way.

In my son's defense, he did shoot the 45-70 five more times that day. He did them all standing up.

Today, his shoulder is sore and you can see the shape of the butt on is shoulder in a very faint bruise.

Also I have to be proud of him. There was a father, grandfather and three boys shooting next to us. The youngest boy (probably about 14 or 15) was fascinated by the 45-70. I offered to let him shoot it. Even with his grandfather and father urging him to try it he kept chickening out. My kid finally quit when the box of cartridges was empty.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey

Here is the before and after pictures of my contribution to this afternoon's Thanksgiving feast.

fried turkey

If you have never had fried turkey, shame on you. My dear wife told me about her Cajun relatives frying turkeys when she was a kid. We tried it about 10 years ago and have never gone back.

The time frame between the two sides of this picture is about 45 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for this year?

  • I am thankful for my dear wife. It makes my brain hurt trying to find the words to explain how important she is in my life. So I have to cop out and use an old cliche, I just can't imagine life without her.
  • I am thankful for my three kids - Chaos, Noise and Destruction. I may have to rename them someday. I have been calling them that for years. But they are growing up and they are changing. In some ways the names still fit. But in so many more they have all moved on. Maybe its time that I do also.
  • I am thankful for my job. I probably should call it a career, but seeing as I don't enjoy what I am doing these days it feels more like a job than a career. But the work is important, it pays well, and it allows me the luxury of providing a good home for those I love.
  • I am thankful for my extended family. I'm not just talking about blood relatives. But also all those close friends who are family by choice.
  • I am thankful for all the families who have joined the Ridgecrest Starlings Volleyball club this year. It looks like we have a great group of young athletes this year.
  • I am thankful that even though I believe that our country is in for some very dark scary times ahead as we are forced to change from a free capitalist society to an oppressive socialist society that I am sharing this small community with a lot of people who think that we will get through this OK. It may be tough going, but we will at least be going through it together.
  • Finally I am thankful for all the men and women serving in our armed forces. I sleep very well at night knowing that while my family and I are safe and comfortable in our homes there are some very dangerous Americans out there in the darkness, doing dangerous work to keep us free. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Famous Family

Hey my family has finally made the big time. We're famous now. We have finally been recognized on a National level.

My family has always been unknowns. We're not famous, we're not big shots. We spend our lives laboring in obscurity. I have been doing family genealogy research for many years now and as far back as I can track our heritage we have been farmers, shop keepers, laborers, etc. Our family tree is the epitome of lower/middle class America.

But that is not true anymore. Thanks to my first cousin, once removed, Milton Kirk Cordes, our family has finally achieved national recognition.

Yesterday, President Bush issued 14 pardons and commuted two prison sentences. One of those pardons was to Milton (Everyone in the family always called him just - Kirk).

On the latest pardon list were:
_Milton Kirk Cordes of Rapid City, S.D. Cordes was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits importation into the country of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws.

Kirk is the son of my Grandfather's older brother John and his wife Hallie. Everyone called John - Slim. When younger I spent a lot of time at Slim and Hallie's place. That is where we did most of our antelope hunting. I don't remember much of Kirk. He was 18 years older than I was so he was seldom around. He was 6 years younger than my Dad (his first cousin) so to me he was just another grown-up.

Apparently a few years ago Kirk and some buddies were running a private hunting club in SD capitalizing on the out of state hunters who had too much money to spend, but not a place to hunt when they got to South Dakota. I don't know all the details, but apparently they weren't exactly running a completely honest operation. They got caught.

Now Kirk has finally brought out family into the national spotlight - he got a Presidential Pardon. Way to go Kirk!

Actually I'm glad for the guy. While I can't say I knew him personally, I really liked his Mom and Dad. How could I not like a lady who always made homemade creamcicles for me every time we came to visit?

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Bailouts

Guess what? We all woke up this morning as co-owners in Citibank. Do you think maybe we will be able to get better service at the counter now?

Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

CNBC has this list of bailouts that our wonderful elected officials have been doling out: (numbers are in Billions of Dollars)

The first two columns are from the CNBC article. I added the third column which is how much each of us will have to pay if the cost of each bailout is spread out among all 300 million men women and children in this country.

(TAF) Term Auction Facility900 B$3,000
Commercial Banks99.2 B$331
Investment Banks56.7 B$189
Loans to buy ABCP76.5 B$255
AIG112.5 B$375
Bear Stearns29.5 B$99
Term Securities Lending Facility225 B$750
Swap Lines613 B$210
Money Market Investor Funding Facility540 B$1800
Commercial Paper Funding Facility257 B$857
(TARP) Treasury Asset Relief Program700 B$2,334
Automakers25 B$84
(FHA) Federal Housing Administration300 B$1,000
Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac350 B$1,167

That's right! If the cost of these bailouts was passed around fairly among the 300 million people living in the United States they will cost every single one of us $14,282 each. Now if you take into account that a large number of people in this country pay no tax (2005 numbers indicate that 99,880,223 people paid taxes that year, so lets go with that.) Rounding off to 100 million taxpayers puts the tax burden on those of us who do pay taxes at $42,845 each.

I'm not saying that we will have to pay that. It will be a lot more than that. Remember that is just the bill for the bailouts. All the money the rest of the government needs, that you usually pay with your tax dollars will still be needed. This is over and above what you normally pay in taxes.

Again I can hear the objections already - "David you ignorant slut, the government isn't actually handing all that money to the banks. They are just saying they will guarantee loans to that amount." Anyone saying that would be right. But how many of you out there think that most of those "toxic" assets are actually going to get paid. I suspect that good old Uncle Sam is actually going to end up ponying up most of the cash he is offering. If I am right then we are right back to where we started - if you are a productive taxpaying member of our society - you are screwed!

I'll say it one more time STOP THE DAMNED BAILOUTS. I can't afford this, you can't afford this, our entire country can't afford this. Someone needs to take an elementary school math teacher to Washington and start beating Congressmen over the head with her. Maybe then they will learn how to do a little simple math and figure out that there is not enough money in our pockets to fund their stupidity.

Finally, you will notice that the Citibank bail out is not even on that list from CNBC. Add in that 300 Billion and the cost per taxpayer jumps up another $3,000 each.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I'm not an economics expert. I slept through freshman economics in college. The first day the professor told us "The most important thing to remember about economics is that there is no such thing as a free lunch."

I believed him, took his advice to heart and tuned out most of the rest of the class. I grabbed a nice nap each day. Payed a little attention occasionally and managed to get a B in the class. Most of the test seemed to be pretty much common sense. The stuff that wasn't so common was probably the stuff I slept through.

Regardless of all that I grew up trying to maintain a pretty basic set of personal economic principals. I don't spend more than I make. I pay my bills, then myself (savings), then if there is anything else, that can be used for play and fun. I try not to buy on credit except for large things like cars and houses. Everything else I don't buy it until I can play for it. Sure I use credit cards. But that is for convenience. I never charge anything I can't write a check to pay for in full at the end of the month, and then I do just that. I have been carrying credit cards for 26 years now and I have paid a monthly interest charge exactly 8 times. Five of them were the first five months I had my first card. When I discovered how much I hated paying that extra money I swore I wouldn't do it again. The other three times were one emergency purchase and twice that I screwed up and didn't get the check mailed in time.

This all brings me to all the bailouts that are being slung around by our elected officials in Washington DC. As a general rule I don't like it. Maybe there is some large overarching economic principals that I don't understand that make some or all of these bailouts necessary. But if we, the American taxpayers have to help these businesses out of the jams they are in I think there should be some simple rules put in place before we give them a single penny.

1. To the CEOs of these companies - If your corporation is in such bad shape financially that you need the rest of us taxpayers to bail you out, then you have obviously failed miserably as a CEO. Every member of upper management (top 3 or 4 tiers of managers including the board of directors) of any company that receives a bailout must be fired. No pension, no golden parachute, no bonuses, no recommendations. If you are this bad at your job perhaps you should try selling french fries at McDonalds. I'm sure there are plenty of good young businessmen out there that could do your job. At their worst they could probably do no worse than you did.

2. All contracts with any union that works for that company are immediately null and void. If those unions wish to continue working for that company they will have to renegotiate all contracts with the new management.

3. The idea that a company is too big to fail should be eliminated from our thinking. Any company that is too big to fail should not be too big to be broken into smaller pieces. Granted my thinking may be rather simplistic here. But would it not be better for our economy to depend on a hundred smaller companies each with a CEO who make a million dollars a year, than one huge company with a CEO who makes 100 million dollars a year. Take a lesson from the internet. Instead of one big router, the internet depends on thousands of interconnected routers. So if one of them fails the rest of them can keep working. Would this not work just as well with banks?

4. Finally before they give out even more dollar of bail out money, Congress needs to figure out that encouraging, forcing, blackmailing, or legislating banks to lend money to people who cannot afford to pay it back is what got us into this trouble in the first place. Continuing to do so will not help but will just hurry along the destruction of our great nation. Banks need to be free to determine who to lend money to on the merits of the borrowers ability to repay that loan without interference from the morons in Congress. To that end, Congress, as a whole, every single member has to stand up and say "I caused this problem and I am going to fix it." They they have to immediately change the rules to stop government meddling in the way our financial institutions do business.

That's it. Plain and simple. Maybe too simple, maybe too plain. And I doubt that any of it will ever happen. The morons in charge who think they are so much smarter than the rest of us will never see it my way. Unfortunately I only have one vote to try to change their minds by changing their jobs. And apparently a large portion of our country doesn't agree with me either because they keep right on voting these morons into office.

Ridgecrest Starlings 2009

Wow it has been a busy couple weeks. We had an election, The middle school volleyball season ended. My club volleyball season started. Thanksgiving is only 4 days away.

I have been swamped lately. I hoped to expand my volleyball club out to two teams this year. I had 8 girls last year. This year I had 29 show up for tryouts. We finally split them into three teams. A 16s team, an older 14s team and a young 13s team. The make up of these teams took about 2 weeks and personally cost me several hours of sleep each night, five lbs that I lost worrying about making the right choices, and most hearbreakingly of all, it cost me "my volleyball team". I started this club last year with the belief that a coach should start with a young team. And then when that young team grew up, and moved up in age groups, that coach should move up with them. However because of way too many concerns to try and write about here, I ended up splitting my team from last year onto all three of the teams. My team was not only split apart but I had to give up coaching two thirds of them. Worse yet, the oldest three that I had to give up were the three girls that I have been coaching for the last three years. Putting them on to a different team with a different coach felt a lot like having to give away some of my own children.

Fortunately the girls don't seem to be bothered by this at all. It doesn't seem to bother most of them that they have been split up and that I will not be their coach anymore. So I keep asking myself, if they don't care, why do I? But I do. And regardless of how often I rationalize it, and regardless of how easily my players have moved on - it still hurt to let them go.

But when all was said and done, I'm pretty sure I did the right thing for greatest number of the 29 girls who showed up for my tryouts. When everything was worked out, I am coaching the 14s team. I still have three of my players from last year on my team. It looks like a have a pretty good group of 13 and 14 year olds on the team with them. We have only had a couple practices together but this group is already far advanced over last years team. So I'm starting to get an optimistic excited feeling about this team and can't wait to start practicing with them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Civics Quiz

I didn't pay much attention in my civics class in high school. But that was 32 years ago and I have read a bit more since then.

I scored a 32 out of 33 on this quiz - 96.97% I missed question number 31. I blame that on sleeping through Freshman Economics in College. The prof told us on the first day that Freshman Economics boiled down to "There is no such thing as a free lunch." I believed him and started napping. Hey I still got a B.

The average results on this test are pretty bleak - Their average score for November is 77.3. In a test case of 2508 people the average score was a 49%. Lets hear it for our education system!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

Well the election is over. We have a new President - President Obama.

I have so much stuff rumbling around in my head right now that I really can't even think about the election. I have a lot of volleyball stuff going on right now.

So I will write more later. In the meantime I think you should all get used to chanting USSA, USSA, USSA. Because we have just elected the first ever openly socialist President to lead our country. Now we just have to wait and see which cliff he leads us over.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Now the Voters Get to Chose

Tomorrow is Election Day here in the good old USA.

That means that you all have the responsibility to get off your butts, out of your houses and make the effort to go vote. But remember this one important thing. You are only allowed to vote once.

A while back a commenter asked my what I thought about our local measure N and the city council election.

I hate to admit it but I still have not made up my mind on measure N. I admit that the roads in this town need a lot of work. Actually I have driven on dirt roads that are smoother than some of the "paved" roads in this town. But then this is not a new phenomenon in Ridgecrest. Taxpayers have been trying to get the roads in this town for the entire 23 years that I have been living here. Even when we do managed to get a road fixed it is usually not one that needs it. So I would think that I would be willing to vote for measure N. But that is the problem.

I have never in my entire life voted for a tax increase. I'm not sure that I could ever pull that lever, fill in that bubble, punch that chad, or press that button. Voting for a tax increase flies in the face of everything I believe in politically.

I understand that we need money to fix our roads. But we have needed money to fix our roads for over 20 years. Unfortunately I am not as informed as I probably ought to be about our city budget and where we spend the money we have available to maintain and grow our city. So I can't speak to details. But I do see a lot of money go to waste in town year after year. The city is constantly trying to help bring businesses in town and we usually end up on the losing end of the financial deals. How much money did the city spend to help Matrix Motors, Front Porch Productions and countless others? Could that money have been used to maintain our streets.

Now that is my main concern here. Everyone talks about fixing our streets. My question is, why does our city not have a regular plan of maintenance for our streets. The infrastructure of a city needs to be maintained. You cannot just slap down some pavement and expect it to last a lifetime. And it is not just streets. The entire infrastucture of our city needs to be maintained - streets, sewers, water, electrical, gas, all of it needs maintenance. Since we have not been maintaining our roads, are we also neglecting the rest of the infrastructure of our city? What is next, another 1/2 percent sales tax to improve our sewers? Where does it stop?

I have heard a lot of people complaining that the city spends way too much money on the parks and recreation department that could be used for our streets. I disagree. The parks and recreation department in town is very important for the future of our community. By that I mean our children. Even more than complaining about our streets one of the longest running loudest complaints I have heard around town is that there is nothing for the kids to do. So many of our community's children seem to turn to drugs and sex as a way to entertain themselves. I can't quote figures so I don't know the facts. But from my anecdotal experience the children of Ridgecrest seem to be taking advantage of the parks and recreation department to find many things to keep themselves busy. And in my opinion that is a good thing. In my opinion, it is more important than the condition of our streets.

So I still do not know how I am going to vote on measure N tomorrow.

As for our city council. As a general rule I prefer to vote for small business owners for the city council. They are usually the citizens who have to most to gain from seeing our city prosper. However this year there seems to be a dearth of business owners running for office. Unfortunately we seem to have a lot of engineers running for office this year. I have a real problem with this. I am an engineer and have worked my whole career with engineers. Unfortunately most of the managers I have had in my career have also been engineers. However engineers do not often make very good managers. I have had some good managers in my career who were engineers but they have been far and away the exception to the rule. So as a general rule I do not vote for engineers for office unless I know quite a bit about their background and their beliefs. After all, I am an engineer and believe me, you would not want me in charge of our fair city.

As for our two incumbent council members I have known Steve Morgan for many years and he is a good man who really wants what is best for this city. But the last few years Steve seems to be developing some tunnel vision on how to solve problems for the city. He focuses in on one way of solving a problem and any other options to that solution he just will not consider. Whether or not this tunnel vision will cost Steve my vote or not I have not decided yet. I know I am running out of time to decide but historically I spend most of the election cycle considering my options and making up my mind based on those options while standing in line at the polling place.

But some decisions for me are made very early in the election cycle. For instance I will never cast a vote for Ron Carter. I attempted to make an appointment with Principal Carter at Las Flores Grade School 12 years ago. The run around I got from his office staff eventually led to their flat refusal to allow me to make an appointment to see Principal Carter. I had no choice but to assume that his office staff was working under his direction to keep parents away from meeting with him. The only other option I could imagine was that he did not know how his office staff were behaving. In that case he would be even less attractive to me as a manager than a guy who orders his staff to isolate him from a parent who would be sending their child to his school the next year. But the incident was very upsetting to my dear wife and I. When we tried to complain about his isolationist attitude to the school district we were told "If the Principal chooses not to meet with you that is his business." then they hung up on me. That event was the driving force behind us putting our children into private schools.

So who am I going to vote for for City Council? I will not vote for Ron Carter nor Randy (Charlie Chaplin) Jenkins. The council tends to be populated by clowns on occasion. I don't want to vote for a guy who campaigns on the clown platform.

Beyond them I have Steve Morgan, one businessman, two planning commissioners and a bunch of engineers to chose from. I'm sure I will make a calm rational choice while standing in line tomorrow morning.