Grim's Hall

A Little Mountain Feud:

It seems I may owe something by way of apology to those city neighbors I mentioned in a recent post. I take it back: from now on, I only want bears for neighbors at all. No people, city or country, thanks aye.

The other night I was laying in bed, when off to the southwest I heard the report of a pistol. It sounded like a mid-range caliber, something in the weight of a 9mm or .40 Short & Weak. After a few seconds, there was a second shot, and then a third following two seconds after the second. Then, there were three shots in rapid succession; a pause, and then seven shots more, also rapid-fire.

There was quiet for a bit, and then two more shots.

"Fifteen," I murmured to my wife before rolling over and going back to sleep. "Try to remember, in case anyone asks."

Well, I didn't think too much about it, because as a kid I often heard guys out target-shooting, even at night, down in the Georgia woods. If you work all day, when else are you going to go shoot? And if it's on your property, and you take the right kind of safety precautions, it's legal and fine.

Things are a little different in Virginia. My wife was off visiting the neighbors today -- a chili dog luncheon, some of the local mothers got up for the kids who live around here. She came back with quite a few good stories to tell.

JHD will appreciate this.

Apparently it all started a few weeks ago when one of the boys up the valley started letting his pitbull out to wander. The thing was not all that nice, and it set after the neighbors' cats. Now, most of the houses around here are not within sight of each other, but these two happen to be. So they're "close" neighbors.

Well, the dog ate the cat, and the man was absolutely outraged to find his feline half-devoured the next day. So he told his neighbor that he'd best get that dog tied up, or else. Needless to say, the neighbor did no such thing.

So, the guy shot the dog. It had eaten his cat, after all, and his neighbor refused to restrain it. If it was dangerous to more than just cats, that was probably justified -- although it wouldn't have been a bad idea to call animal control instead. That was in the afternoon.

The story gets a little fuzzy on the details at this point, but by midnight or so, the two neighbors were both, independently, roaring drunk. The fellow with the cat was drunk on liquor, but the fellow with the dog was drunk on real old fashioned moonshine. Turns out there's supposed to be a still around here somewhere.

I gather but am not certain that Captain Moonshine is the one who decided to take a shot at his neighbor. They had been yelling at each other -- the poor wife of the cat-lover reports that her husband was "frothing at the mouth, he was so drunk" -- and then there was the first shot. Our cat lover went for his gun, which he had close to hand as he'd been expecting his neighbor to take exception on behalf of his dog, and shot back. There was one more careful shot, and then they opened up. The poor wife, trying to restrain her husband, was now squashed between the door and the wall as the brutal but cat-loving man attempted to keep her out of his way, while still returning the fire.

They shot until they ran flat out of ammo, and the only casualty was the fish tank in one of the houses -- both of them were so drunk that they couldn't hit each other, or anything near to each other. When they ran out of bullets the real fight began: they cast down their guns and went at it hand to hand, beating each other until the deputies arrived.

It would have been a kindness, all things considered, if they'd just started with that and saved gunfighting for serious-minded folks. These things are not toys. No word yet on whether the arrested are named "Hatfield" or "McCoy."

I'll be interested to see how the county handles the case. My hope, of course, is that these irresponsible idiots get the book thrown at them. I hate to see a free man sent to jail, like I hate to see a healthy man become weak and sick; but I'm willing to make an exception in this case. I'll keep you posted.

MSN Money - Associated Press Business News: Asian Travel Offers British Support

Vacation in London:

That is the advice of the head of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Peter de Jong. His statement on topic shows that nobility of spirit can be found in travel agents as well as anywhere else:

After the tsunami, PATA urged tourists to visit tsunami-affected areas as part of the recovery process. Today we ask tourists who intended to visit the U.K. to continue with their visit. The resolve and unity of civilized people will prevail.
Well said.

The Fourth Rail

Was the IRA Involved?

It's a natural question, given that the IRA has more experience than anyone in carrying out terror attacks in London. There is no evidence to suggest that they were involved in the execution of the attack -- but there is some reason to think they might have provided intelligence and planning information, as I note today over at the Fourth Rail.

'Reason to think they might have,' I wish to make clear, is a long way from 'proof that they did.' But it is a question that our intelligence services ought to be asking -- and one we ought to be asking, too.

Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution

God Save the Queen:

I also remember what Pejman remembers about the Coldstream Guards, but also one thing more: that, at the memorial service held at St. Paul's Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth had them play The Star Spangled Banner as a hymn, and sang the words from memory.

English Queens do not sing national anthems, not as a rule. And this was one written about a war in which her own country was 'the other side.' No matter.

My compliments, for what they are worth, to the British for their upstanding behavior in the face of yesterday's attacks. We will know more such days in the future, and would do well to learn how to meet them. The lady who served tea, like the Queen, is a model for us all.

Yahoo! Mail - The best web-based email!

SEAL Memorial Services:

A squid of my association sends. I don't know if civilians are welcome, but if you are close by one of these locations and wanted to go hoist a sign or simply wave a flag on the entrance routes, I'm sure you'd be appreciated by any family heading that way.

It is with great sorrow, that the Naval Special Warfare Foundation and the UDT-SEAL Association announce the memorial services for ten Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these men during this very difficult time.

In Virginia, the memorial service will be held at 1000, Friday, July 8, 2005, in the NAB, Little Creek Base Theater for the five members of SEAL Team TEN and the one member of SDV Team TWO who died in Afghanistan. The uniform for active duty Navy is Service Dress Blue.

The five SEALs from SEAL Team TEN are:

· Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, Class 219, of New Orleans, Louisiana. Jacques is survived by his wife, Charissa.

· LCDR Erik S. Kristensen, 33, Class 233, of San Diego, California. Erik is survived by his parents RADM Edward Kristensen and Suzanne “Sam” Kristensen.

· Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, Class 191, of Corbett, Oregon. Jeff is survived by his wife of 12 years, Rhonda, and their 4-year-old son, Seth.

· LT Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, Class 230, of Portville, New York. Mike is survived by his wife, Laura, and their 1-year-old daughter, Molly.

· Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, Class 229, of Midway, West Virginia. Jeff is survived by his wife, Erin.

The SEAL from SDV Team TWO is:

· Petty Office 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, 25, Class 232, of Littleton, Colorado. Dan is survived by his wife, Marie.

In Hawaii, the memorial service will be held at 1000, Monday, July 11, 2005, at the Punchbowel National Cemetery in Honolulu for the four members of SDV Team ONE who also perished in Afghanistan. The uniform for active duty Navy is Summer White.

The four SEALs lost from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE are:

· Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, Class 176, of Exeter, New Hampshire. Dan is survived by his wife, Normida, four children from his former wives, and three stepchildren.

· LT Michael P. Murphy, 29, Class 236, of Medford, New York. Mike is survived by his parents Dan and Maureen Murphy.

· Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, Class 239, of Boulder City, Nevada. Eric is survived by his Navy SEAL father James Patton, Class 94.

· Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, Class 237, of Deerfield Beach, Florida. James is survived his father Solomon Suh.

Those desiring to make donations and/or interested in helping the families of these men, may contact the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, at (757) 363-7490,, or by writing to Naval Special Warfare Foundation, P.O. Box 5965, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23471. The NSW Foundation has information on programs which can assist the families with their current and future needs. Any assistance you can provide is sincerely appreciated.

If you desire to send condolences to any of the families, you may address your envelopes to the surviving spouse or parents C/o the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, and we will forward to the families.
It's hard to measure the weight of losing such men. They cannot be replaced from the general run of mankind, not with all the training in the world. They are special, indeed.

Xinhua - English

China Chooses Contractors:

Looks like the PRC will be using military contractors heavily in its attempt to modernize its military structure. A lot of this is being driven by Chinese studies of the Iraq war and how the US military fights. It's interesting to see what lessons they are drawing from our experiences.

They've apparently decided that logistics in particular can be farmed out to contractors. Now, that's an interesting decision. I understand the reasoning, but it will be interesting to see how it stands up if China finds itself engaged in a real fight at some point. One of the groups you definitely want to have subject to military discipline, I would think, is the group providing for the logistical needs of your fighters.

Of course, in China, the justice system works somewhat differently than ours (to say the least that might be said!). So it could be that this will be less of a problem under their system than ours.

Grim's Hall

Edge of the Wild, II

I had a close encounter with a black bear today -- first one I've had in a couple of years. Apparently there's one in the area that travels across the property regularly. I'd seen scat, but today I crossed paths with the young fellow in person.

I was on the way back from the swimming lake, with the boy. We were passing a raspberry patch when I heard a large animal move suddenly, crouching among the thorn vines. This would have been maybe ten, fifteen feet away, right off the road. I wasn't sure if it was a bear or a deer at first -- we had seen a doe on the way down -- but because of the berries, I figured we ought to assume a bear. And a bear hitting the ground is a warning sign, which can preceed an attack.

Black bear are not terribly dangerous, and unlikely to charge a full grown man who is obviously aware of them and not afraid. Since we are in Virginia, I take no more precaution of them than to carry a knife in case one of them decides to test the proposition -- but I've encountered many bears in my time, and I really don't expect any trouble from ursus americanus. The big bruins of that species are shy in spite of their size, and a yearling bear such as we have around here -- I knew his relative size from the scat I'd seen -- is even less likely to come after you. You have to be prepared for them, but they are reasonably good neighbors as wild animals go. The deer cause more trouble, eating the wife's flowers.

I've even been between a mother and her cub, once, with some dogs who decided to chase the cub for sport. The mother was alarmed, but once she realized that I was defending the cub rather than aiding the dogs, she stopped and waited until her cub was safe, and then they fled together.

Thus is the black bear. They're not friendly, but they're not hateful either. If we were in grizzly country, things would be different: instead of crouching down to hide, a grizzly would be just as likely to kill you out of hand. If I were expecting that kind of company, I'd be taking Jimbo's advice on a swimming companion -- something in a .30-06 would make a good walking stick.

On the other hand, I'd obviously startled the fellow, to judge from his reaction. So, it was time to move along.

I took the boy and we moved around the patch and back up towards the house, which is atop a small ridge. I met the wife coming down the hill, pistol strapped to her hip. She'd seen the bear heading our way, and decided to come check on us.

Beowulf was not at all frightened. It's not his first bear either, nor even his second. When he was a very little boy indeed, and we lived on Burnt Mountain in Georgia, we had a three hundred pounder who would come and look into the windows from outside the house. He never caused any trouble at all, just curious. We kept food and garbage properly stored, and someone was almost always about, so he did not attempt any scavenging. Beowulf knew his face at the window, and was not troubled even then.

Another time, a little cub broke into our screened in porch. He was also just curious -- there was nothing there to interest him, so he passed on his way directly, but not before looking through the glass.

In any event, it's pleasant to be back in bear country. I realize that it's an odd thing to say, since these are large wild animals who might -- long odds though it is -- attack one of us, particularly the child. But the child is always with either me or his mother, and the bears have never been bad company. I leave him the raspberries, and he leaves us alone. I'd rather have him for a neighbor than many a neighbor I've had in those years we've lived in cities, I can tell you.

It is important to keep proper food discipline, though, which can interfere with gardening: black bears will eat many garden fruits and vegetables, as well as fruit from trees. It's important that they not learn to look for human agricultural products as food sources. The raspberry bush is natural and appropriate; the pear tree you planted near the house is not.

Well, I've been thinking about getting a dog anyway. It wouldn't hurt to provide something to keep the bear from getting too close -- for the bear's sake, since not all people will tolerate it, and the next family may shoot it if it gets close to their house or their regular walking paths. Even if you like the things, and I do myself, you have to consider how the next guy is going to react to a bear that is just a little too used to being around people. News - News Archive - Revolutionary principles stand the test of time

Revolutionary Principles:

Thanks to Southern Appeal for this editorial from The Scotsman:

[I]t is also important to say, this 4 July , that one need not have ever visited the US to feel in tune with what it means to be an American. It is an empire of the mind (and the imagination) as much as it is a military and economic superpower. The principles of the American Revolution remain sound. The World Trade Centre no longer stands, but the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights does.

No other country has embedded the "pursuit of happiness" - the great goal of mankind - in the foundations of the state; nowhere else is the idea of liberty so revered. There is such a thing as an American sensibility and it can be felt from the Baltic to the Pacific.

Could the United States be doing better? Wrong question. If not America, then who? No-one, that's who. At its best, America and American ideals remain, in Lincoln's famous words, "the last, best hope of mankind". The United States still believes in a place called hope. As it celebrates its 229th birthday today, we should too.
Scotland was the birthplace of much of the thoughts enshrined in the American way. It has been too long since I have read one of her native sons celebrating those thoughts so openly. Good show, and well said.


Bladework: KABAR Knives

I was back down at the swimming lake today, and spent quite a while in the water. This provides me with an opportunity to do a little product-comparison for those of you who are choosing a fighting knife.

I mentioned that the last trip involved a KABAR USMC Knife, designed for WWII Marines. We're several days from the swim now, and I can report the following: there is some mild discoloration along the steel edge, and on the butt of the knife where the baked protective layer has chipped due to more than a decade of being used as a hammer in field circumstances (such as, "I don't feel like looking for a hammer. Hand me the KABAR").

It's nothing serious -- it'll clear off with a few strokes on an oiled whetstone. The knife requires minimal maintenance, and it's good to go. The leather sheath took more than a full day to dry, however.

I also own a "Next Generation" KABAR, with serrations, and it was that knife I took swimming with me today. Now, I'm the guy who prefers lever-action rifles and revolvers to anything semiautomatic. The old USMC KABAR is a thing of beauty, and the NextGen one is not. It's all too new, too black, not enough leather.

All that said -- if you're looking for a knife to swim with, it really is a lot better.

The steel blade lacks a baked protective layer, but is instead blasted with glass beads until its outer shell is so smooth as to be essentially immune to water. The result is a knife that is substantially more waterproof than traditional stainless steel, with the good qualities you usually only get with carbon steel. It will not rust, if you take even minimal care of it, but it is not as fragile as regular stainless steel, and it holds an edge better than any other "stainless" blade I've had.

The leather sheath is made from a different grade of leather, and dried quite quickly.

There is a straight edge variant, if you'd prefer that. I would have myself, in fact, but it was not available when I bought the thing -- which, I'm embarrassed to mention, was the very day it came out.

Ahem. Anyway, there you are. If you want a "big knife" of the "Military Fighting/Utility" variation, and you plan to take it in the water, the NextGen KABAR has my recommendation. It's not quite as good a fighting knife as a Bowie style, but the straight blade has a lot of good qualities, and I am certainly proud to carry one myself when I'm planning on getting wet.

Grim's Hall

The Edge of the Wild:

Patient readers have endured my griping about the perils of the recent move -- especially the @#$@ wasps, which stung me up again yesterday. Nevertheless, now that I've managed to get the secure satellite connection working, there are some advantages to living out here.

On Sunday, I took my little boy swimming for the first time. He is three. There is a lake near here, fed by one of the streams that eventually reach confluence with the Rappahannock river.

We followed the stream up a cataract of stones from the base, climbing over the stones until we reached the spillway at the top. The lake was spread out before us. Beowulf wanted to go on, but of course he does not know how to swim like his namesake:

Swimming was a popular sport, both to compete in and to watch, and it seems according to texts that it was considered quite fair to try and drown your opponent. Some of the heroes in the sagas are even said to have competed in swimming competitions whilst wearing their armour. (This is possible. We have tried it with the tunic, trousers and shoes, as well as wearing a mail shirt. The effect is to place your body in a more legs down position in the water. This makes for tiresome swimming, and we found that the Breast stroke was the only really viable way to swim.)
I put the boy up on my shoulders, and walked right out into the lake. It was rather like swimming in a mailshirt -- add fifty pounds to your shoulders -- but it was possible. I swam to the dock about a hundred yards away. I hadn't planned on going out into the water, so I wasn't dressed for it -- when we came out, my clothes were dripping wet and so was my knife. Still, I had chosen the WWII-model Kabar for the hike: if it was good enough for Iwo Jima, it certainly won't be hurt by a passage through a Virginia lake.

Beowulf loved it. He immediately ran back to the bottom of the cataract, wanting to go again. So, we went again: the climb up, and the swim across. After that, I made him sit on the dock and watch me swim alone. I can tell from the interest and joy he shows in it that he is going to be a powerful swimmer in his day.

This morning, while working on the lawn mower, I heard a thrashing of limbs off to my right. I turned my head, and saw that a young stag was walking out of the bushes, not twenty yards away. He looked at me in the most astonished fashion -- four points, still covered in velvet -- and I spoke to him. He did not run, but after a moment, dipped his head down and up again quickly to see how I would react to the threat. I told him not to worry, that I was not hunting at the moment, and indeed he did not seem to worry at all. He passed on his way without fear, so far as I could tell.

There remains a lot to be done, and the @#$@# wasps really must go. Still, it's a nice place to be, for as long as we get to be here. Of course, contracts being what they are, in six months or a year we'll have to move again.


The Cotillion Salutes MilBlogs:

I think that all of you gentlemen would enjoy a visit to today's Independence Day celebration at the Cotillion*, the webring for conservative women bloggers. It's a salute to the MilBlogs, which is kind of them; but you may find other things to enjoy as well.

*(If you're like me, and you wondered just what a "cotillion" might be, it turns out it's another word for a debutante ball.)

The Daily Blogster


The Daily Blogster has a fine post [UPDATE: Or not so fine; see Eric's comments] today on the fates of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. I would like to speak to one part of it: it is sadly incomplete in its account of the fate of Button Gwinnett.

The first part of the tale is told well by the Florida National Guard. You must understand, however, that Florida was on the other side in the Revolution -- and the ancestors of the Florida National Guard were fierce loyalists.

Now it was the turn of the Rebels to invade Florida. Lachlan McIntosh and Button Gwinnett (the latter a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence) organized an invasion force of several thousand soldiers and in the spring of 1777 set out for Florida. Browne’s Rangers and Indians worried about the flanks of the invading army while ships and boats of the Royal Navy denied them use of coastal waterways and rivers. Most of the invading army, once crossed into Florida, spent its time ravaging frontier homesteads and settlements. One portion of the Rebel army was dispatched to loot the British settlements on Amelia Island. Another detachment, 109 Georgia militiamen under Colonel John Baker, while waiting for the main army to catch up, advanced against what it thought to be a small band of disorganized East Florida Rangers. In fact, this was a "Judas Goat" detachment which lured the Rebels into an ambush. Three columns of 100 men each, containing British Regulars, Rangers, and Indians, converged on Baker’s small force. The Rebels were soundly defeated.
Button Gwinnett was the son of a minister who had chosen to make his way in politics instead of religion. A charming fellow, so we are told, he was a successful figure in early Revolutionary politics, which is why he was sent by Georgia's legislature to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Lachlan McIntosh was a relative of John Mohr (gael. "the Great") McIntosh, a hero of an earlier Jacobite uprising. John McIntosh was brought to Georgia by the founder of the colony, Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, a soldier, engineer, and philanthropist whose main design for the colony had been to provide a second chance for 'the worthy poor,' providing them with land and hope instead of the threat of debt prisons. Oglethorpe also had a kind spot in his heart for the Scots, who had fought valiantly for their ancestral king and were now being run off the land. He offered a place to the McIntosh clan, on the Altamaha river where they could serve as a buffer between Savannah and the Spanish settlements in Florida. Oglethorpe and John McIntosh, with their Coastal Rangers, fought and won the famous battle of Bloody Marsh, which defeated Spanish attempts to move against the British colonies from the south. They also established the Highland Mountain Rangers, which continues to exist today as part of the Georgia National Guard.

("Highland Mountain" sounds redundant to American ears, but it is proper in the British military system of the day. "Highland" denoted a force made up primarily of Scottish Highlanders; "Mountain," a force trained or intended primarily for mountain fighting. "Rangers" were a force of mounted infantry assigned to patrol a wilderness or frontier.)

Lachlan McIntosh came from this militant, "Scottish-American" tradition. His family had been brought to America to fight for Georgia, and he fought for her. On the other hand, his family had come to Georgia first because they'd fought against the German fellow occupying the British throne, and when the chance came to do so again, the McIntoshes were only too happy to become revolutionaries. Lachlan later served with George Washington at Valley Forge, and was so treasued by Washington in those difficult days that Washington personally saw to his promotion and, after Valley Forge, gave over command of an important part of the Western frontier to McIntosh. The mission was to open the Ohio river valley by negotiating from the local indians the right to open a string of forts. This mission was also a success, and it paved the way for the great expansion West that came after the Revolution.

Both he and Gwinnett were proud men, and their cooperation on the Florida invasion was sorely tested by the fact that each wished to be in charge. McIntosh was an officer of the Continental forces, but Gwinnett won overall control through his political popularity. Then, when the mission turned into a disaster, sought to blame McIntosh for the failure. McIntosh in turn detested Gwinnett's use of political charm instead of merit, and was sorely offended when he found himself being given the blame for failure when he had been denied the command. In truth, both men were to blame: Gwinnett most of all, for putting himself forward to command when he had no military experience, and McIntosh, for refusing to cooperate with him or even to bring his officers to attend Gwinnett's councils of war. It was this combined failure of leadership that led to the disaster in Florida.

The last part of the debacle came when McIntosh decided to move his forces deeper into Florida to strike at enemy bases, and Gwinnett refused to come. So, McIntosh took just the official Continental Army forces, leaving the Georgia militia under Gwinnett's command. But Gwinnett refused to turn over any of the supplies to which McIntosh's forces were entitled, meaning that the expedition had no food and little ammunition. Unable to carry on with no logistical support, McIntosh returned to Savannah with a heart full of wrath.

On the floor of the Georgia legislature, he testified as to what had happened, and called Button Gwinnett "a Scoundrel and a Lying Rascal."

Two weeks later, Gwinnett challenged McIntosh to a duel. They exchanged fire on the morning of 16 May 1777, not even a year after Gwinnett's signature was applied to the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh took a wound in the leg, and Gwinnett was also hit. Both men fell, but McIntosh got back up and offered to exchange another shot. Gwinnett could not rise: his hip was shattered by the bullet, and he died of his wound three days later.

As mentioned, McIntosh was later sent to serve with George Washington, in part because his shooting of a popular politician made it hard for him to remain effective in Georgia. After his success in the West, he returned to fight in the second battle of Savannah, at which he was wounded and captured by the British. He survived his captivity, however, and after the war was made the master of the port of Savannah. He and Washington met once again when Washington came to tour Savannah in 1791. The President brought new cannons as a gift to reinforce the port's defenses, and these "Washington Guns" are still on display on Bay Street, just by the Savannah government house.


The VBIED Threat:

Our friends at Blackwater Security have produced a paper on the subject, focusing on VBIED tech and the possibility for the deployment of such things in America. There is a handy-dandy guide from the ATF on how far you need to evacuate from a suspected VBIED, depending on the size of the vehicle. (I'm told the graphic is unclassified and free for public dissemination. Who knew the ATF did anything useful?)

Sharp Knife

The 1770s Remembered:

I was sure that if I went by Sharp Knife this weekend, Noel would have a fine feast of Revolutionary lessons for us. He did not disappoint.

Post after post points to articles on the history of the Revolution, the culture of the 1770s, the facts of the life of King George III, and many other interesting items as well.

If I were in the business of issuing titles, I would have to award Noel some fitting title in recognition of his excellence at bringing the Revolutionary era to speak to us in our own. If this Independence Day moves you to reflect upon those days, as it should, take some time to read through the selection that Sharp Knife has to offer.

The Gun Line: Aghhh! You Got Me!

Another Tag?

There are certain things which roll downhill, and this is one. Sgt. B. tagged Doc, who tagged me. As always, I'll forgo the pleasure of foisting this off on someone else, but I'll answer the questions. I'm always surprised that anyone cares enough to ask, but obviously some of you do, since I keep getting asked to do these things. Well enough.

What I was doing 10 years ago: Let's see, 1995 -- I suppose I was in college then, working my way through with the Southeastern Detective Agency.

Five years ago: I would have been getting ready to go to China with my wife, and finishing up the classwork in my Master's.

One year ago: Same thing I'm doing now: contract work for DOD.

Yesterday: Mostly just work.

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Chips and salsa.
2. Full fledged nachos with chili, fresh peppers, and sour cream.
3. Beer (hey, Doc listed Vodka!)
4. Pizza.
5. Mozzerella sticks with pasta sauce.

5 songs I know the words to:
1. "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me."
2. "The Old Orange Flute."
3. "Kelly, the Boy from Killane."
4. "Streets of Laredo."
5. "The Marine Corps Hymn."

5 Things I would do with $100 million:
1. Buy very many acres of bottomland out by the Rocky Mountains.
2. Build a fine house on it.
3. Set aside some money for more houses for my childrens' families.
4. Fence it.
5. Buy a large herd of good cattle and a small number of first-class bucking bulls to breed, and go into the cattle business.

5 Locations I would like to vacation:
1. York, England -- there's an old Viking city there.
2. Scotland.
3. The great parks of the West: Yosemite, perhaps.
4. Tombstone, Arizona, during the Western festival.
5. The Winter Range single-action shooting festival.

5 Bad Habits I have:
1. I've been known to drink more beer than is wise on occasion.
2. I've been known to play practical jokes on poor Sovay.
3. Teaching the 2 year old to swordfight was not as wise as it seemed at first. Now he's 3, and has much more strength for swinging things...
4. Impatience with people, especially when...
5. I've forgotten to eat for a day or more because I've been lost in thought.

5 things I like doing:
1. Shooting
2. Tickling the boy.
3. Tickling his mother.
4. Giving Sovay a hard time.
5. Spending an evening, just every now and then, drinking and singing old songs at the pub with friends.

5 things I would never wear:
1. Doc's got good advice here. I'll just assert that everything on his list goes for me, too.

5 TV Shows I like:
1. Firefly -- which isn't on TV anymore, but it was once.
2. I also used to like Babylon 5, but I had the good fortune to encounter it during the first season and watch it develop.
3. I haven't had access to television in a while, but I used to watch the Professional Bull Riders' rodeos on OLN a couple of years back.
4. We're really running out here... when I was a kid, I liked the Lone Ranger.
5. And the dodgy Buck Rogers show from the late 70s.

5 Biggest Joys of the Moment:
1. The boy.
2. His mother.
3. A certain fighting knife which his mother snuck and bought me off Ebay for our anniversary.
4. My extended family.
5. Strength.

5 Favorite toys:
1. I'm not sure I have five toys. I do have an Xbox from a year or so ago.
2. I have some good books, which I even sometimes have time to read.
3. Doc lists a firearm as a toy, but you'll forgive me if I dissent: guns are not toys, even when you enjoy the practice of keeping up the art. Still, if I were to list one, the one I enjoy shooting the most is my Smith & Wesson M629-4, using .44 Special ammo. It's still fun with .44 Magnum ammo, but the Special cowboy loads Winchester makes are just a lot of fun.
4. The boy's little expandable lightsabers -- yeah, I know, it was a mistake to teach him to swordfight. But still, it's fun.
5. Hiking boots. I get a lot of pleasure out of where you can go in them.

5 next victims:

I don't intend to tap anyone else. However, if you're feeling expansive, I'd love to hear what my readers have to say. If you'd like to jump in and tell me some of your favorite things, or bad habits, or whatever -- feel free. That's what the comments are for.

I really ought to make Lizard Queen do this, though, since she hit me with that book thing. But I'm a nice guy, really.

The Belmont Club

Speculation Alert:

Thus he himself names it, but this analysis at The Belmont Club is as good as anything I've seen or thought about the missing recon forces. There's something big going on in the area, and we've had a run of bad luck.

"Bad luck" is an element of Clausewitzian "friction," one that can never be eliminated from the battlefield. However, it can be managed in some ways, chiefly, training and force selection. As demonstrated by the loss of Navy SEALs, however, training can't remove the problem -- just reduce its scale.

Wretchard's advice on roulette is a simplified version of the advice given to me by a former professional roulette player I knew in China.

He was an Australian national, and had since given up the high-stakes game for the more certain payoff of playing the Australian social welfare system: the fellow had managed to take advantage of the very problems of psychology we were just discussing in order to con the Aussie gov't into believing that he was unemployable through reason of insanity, and thus they provided him with a nice pension for the rest of his days. It would have been only modest in Australia, but by moving to China, he was able to live quite well on the same sum.

The principle he was advocating -- and I pass it on to you, not so much in case you should play roulette, as because it is a useful concept in many areas of life -- was to increase your bet in the face of any loss so that when you did finally win, you would be ahead. This means, in effect, not "doubling up," but tripling up.

In other words, say you are betting on red. You lose a dollar. The next round, you bet on red again, but you now bet three dollars: one to replace the one you just lost, one to cover the bet you are now making, and one "for yourself." If you win, you are now not even, but up. If you lose, you increase your bet again: this time, you bet twelve: four to replace what you've lost (1 + 3 on two rounds), four to cover the bet you are making now, and four "for yourself." &c.

Eventually, the odds are that you will win. When you do win, you're ahead for the whole game. Then you start back over at one dollar, and continue to bet one dollar each time until you lose, at which point you start back up the ladder. (Of course, instead of "one dollar" you can bet any amount -- one hundred or one thousand dollars, if you have the money.)

This, he explained, was the real function of table limits -- to close off the ladder at the top end, so that the house retained the advantage. Even that can be overcome, he said, through the (illegal, in most casinos) use of a cartel: a set of fellows who are each ready to step in and throw the maximum amount of money on the bet when it reaches the top of the ladder.

This had worked well for him in his younger days, but was far more labor intensive than the simple collection of cheques (as it is written in British English). Still, the principle is solid enough for occasions, like war, when gambling is inevitable.