01 March 2015

That's Nice

She left her shirt here this morning.

That means she will be back to get it.

This pleases me in ways I can't begin to describe.


It has come in, if not like a lion then at least like an icy little lamb with freezing rain and ice hanging off of the trees. It's warm enough now that it has mostly melted away, but when it gets cold tonight it's going to be a real fun time driving home.

But, ice storms notwithstanding it is a new month, and even though my own situation has changed for the better there still must be a ROTM, oh yes there must.

And so, without further ado, I give you your morning coffee.

Love those socks. Hey, I have a table almost exactly like that one...

Good morning everyone!

27 February 2015

Oh Yeah (note to God),

about that weather...

You can feel free to knock this off at any time.

Eight inches in Raleigh on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. This is the most snow we've had in a short period of time in a very very long time.


Youngest Son was, as may be expected, very attached to Laura and took her death extremely hard.

One of the big worries is that he will resent M's presence. She's not trying to be Mom, but she is going to be around a lot so she wants to be accepted. The older kids are not just fine with it but are happy to see that Dad isn't going to be alone for the rest of his life (Dad agrees), but with Youngest it was a concern.

To that end she suggested Game Night last night, so we played Monopoly (note to Aggie Sith, it was the Star Wars edition) till late in the evening. It was a good idea, seemed to have the desired results, and is something that will likely become a regular thing. We're going out today to pick out a few more games for the variety.

As a side note, and without going into details, there are some sights that are extremely satisfying. I got to see it today for the first time in a very long time.

26 February 2015

Oh Hell

She's already on me about not drinking enough water.

Before you know it she'll have me exercising and eating vegetables.

It's just pathetic that a man of my stature is reduced to such a thing. Vegetables, FFS.

She intends me to live forever, an intention that Middle Daughter is in complete agreement with.

She does, however, reserve the right to kill me herself.

(personal note...spiders are not funny)

25 February 2015


Some things I had forgotten about are so nice.

Other things I had forgotten about are...so much better...

I'm too tense about it though, I want everything to be as perfect for her as she is for me and it's affecting my actions. She tells me I need to relax and let it flow.

She's right, of course.

I get the feeling I'm going to be admitting that a lot.

24 February 2015


After finally digging out from under the Icepocalypse...Snowpalooza 15!!!

I'm wondering just when I moved from North Carolina back to Iowa. It's been a rough February this year, although it's been a pretty good one for me.

The bad thing is there was no snow in the forecast for Raleigh today, but the good thing is, time and a half tonight because it is officially a weather event.

And...Teacher is home from school today because of the weather...maybe I can go over there and let her make me late for work.

I think I'm going to go do the things I need to so that I can do the things I want to.

22 February 2015

Hitting The "Resume" Button

Back to work today, she goes back to work tomorrow, so late nights are out for a few days at least. She says she needs to get back to work because she needs the rest. The next chance we will get to see each other is Wednesday since I'm off, but once again no late nights on a school night.

So now we find out what life will be like in a quasi-normal state. It's been going pretty well so far.

I think we will end up doing just fine.

21 February 2015

Dear Laura

I can't help but think that you had a hand in the events of the past two weeks.

Perhaps it is just superstitious foolishness, perhaps we do fool ourselves in believing these things in order to make our lives easier to live; if that is so then it hurts no one, but I believe it to be true.

You knew me better than anyone else in the world has ever known me, and you loved me in spite of it. You knew all my faults and foibles, all my weaknesses and all my strengths. You knew the worst of me, and you were the best of me. Who else, then, would have found someone so perfect for me?

You told me not to be alone. I was angry at the time, I said things I wish I had never said, but you forgave me. It didn't mean as much then as it means now, but now...it means everything. Sis told me that I should let you go, that I should release you to your rest, but I selfishly hung on because you were the best of me and I did not want to lose that.

She wants me to love her the way that I loved you, but what she does not know is I will love her better because of the lessons I learned with you. Because I learned the value of time.

I wasted a lot of time with you doing other things when I should have been loving you as hard as I could every waking moment of every day. When you are young you think you have all the time in the world, but when you are older you realize that ALL you have is all the time in the world. I learned the true meaning of that during those last desperate hours with you.

It was a mistake, and I won't make it again.

She wants to take the time to savor the moment; in that she is wiser than I because I want to start forever right now. She needs this as much as I do, but she needs the time just as much. She deserves the time, and so do I.

We have all the time in the world.

And now it is time for me to let you go to your rest. Thank you for all the lessons I learned with you, you will always have a piece of my heart...and of course my soul, that goes without saying...but I will move on now the way you wanted me to. I can do that now. Come what may, I can do that now.

Goodbye my love. I will see you when I get there.

20 February 2015


Something that Sis said yesterday when I told her about M, just before she ordered me to leave Boy with her for the night, has stuck with me all day.

Laura gave me her blessing; she released me to live my life. It was past time, according to Sis, for me to release her as well; to let her have her rest.

And so it is.

Last night went extremely well, or at least well enough that M has agreed to grace me with her presence at least once more.

We started with dinner out and ended with a movie at her place. She ended up having to go in to work the next day so the evening ended at ten.

I called to tell her I made it home safely and wish her a good night and we ended up talking on the phone for quite a while. I'm not much of a phone talker, but I like to think I held up my end of the conversation. We spoke until the wee hours of the morning, something that I haven't done in quite some time.

Before we hung up I invited her here, and she accepted.

The house is cleaner than it has been in a very long time. There are still 3 guys and a dog here, so the place isn't spotless, but at least the clutter isn't completely covered in dust.

The dog has been washed (quite against his will) and the lasagna is in the oven.

She will be here in an hour. Tonight I feel no trepidation.

18 February 2015

Filling The Gaps

OK, it was unnecessarily cruel of me and I apologize. Sort of.

She's a teacher at a local school, so for obvious reasons and in full accordance with standard Refuge practice identities will be kept intentionally vague to protect the innocent. It just wouldn't do for the new boyfriend to get you fired before the first date, after all. Might put a damper on any possibilities of follow-on interactions. Until further notice she will be referred to as Banana.

or not...let's just continue to call her M.

Anyhoo, we've been having a text storm for the past couple of days since she's not at work due to weather and I'm under employed due to no operators due to the same reason. As a result we're learning a lot about each other, and the more I learn the more I like.

To begin with, she is in fact from PA, in the part that James Carville referred to as Alabama in between. This means that fortuitously we agree more on politics and things of that nature than disagree, although as she says she doesn't pay as much attention to politics as she knows she should.

She likes country music, a fact which should agree with Range Partner who I think (although he has never said so) is somewhat less than fond of my musical tastes sometimes. She knits, which gives her something in common with my mother who is a famous knitter. She likes minions and considers Monty Python to be works of genius. She likes to read and is fond of sci-fi, as am I.

She has no problem with the fact that I carry, and in fact has voiced some interest in getting a CCW of her own although she has reservations. If she's not gung-ho pro at least she's not rabidly anti. I can work with that.

We're going out Friday Thursday (couldn't wait), it will be the first time since last Saturday afternoon that we have actually seen each other. It's funny when I think that all of this has occurred since then, the last time I actually put eyes on her none of this was certain. Of all the things I expected when I went out to hear the music, this was the least one of them.

It feels pretty good.

Life In The Details

OK Erin, you asked for it.

Friday my TV blew up and I had to buy another one. Also Friday my check was short because I had some vacation time, which kills all overtime when you take it. I usually get between 4-6 hours of overtime a pay period, so that's like losing 3 hours of regular time. It makes a noticeable dent.

Good thing I used my tax money to pay down some of my credit card bills because I've been using them to fill the gap.

Saturday we get snow for Valentines Day and I get to stay home alone. Again.

Sunday I have to go back to work.

Monday we get more snow dumped on us in a day than we usually get all week.

Tuesday is colder than a well diggers ass so the snow doesn't go away as it usually does.

Today my brother in law called begging for money that I don't have (see Friday above).

I've had the best week I can remember having in a very long time.

When Laura knew the end was in sight she didn't tell me of course, but what she did say was "don't be alone."

I did not react well. I was in denial, and I accused her of giving up.

I wish I could take back what I said. I know I was forgiven the moment the words left me, but if I could have never spoken them it would have been better. I have had years to regret it.

But enough about that. I wasn't really all that anxious to jump back in the shark tank, but for the past few months I've been leaving the house more. I joined an online group of local singles and one of the things we do is listen to live music at a local dive called the Korner Pocket.

So the 8th of February I show up at the Pocket. One of the gals from the group, T, is there, I know her from previous meetups but there's nothing special there. We get to chatting and she mentions she has some friends showing up to join us.

A little while later this girl comes in. Girl in the sense of female human person, that is, cause she's all growed up. She's cute and funny and she smiles and laughs a lot, and when she smiles the whole room lights up. As an added bonus she seems to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that I am there.

Her name is M.

So, small talk, music, a few more people show up and I try to be discreet as I observe the new girl. At the end of the evening we all get in our cars, she likes mine (I drove the Mustang), and we go our separate ways. Except her separate way seems to be in the path of my separate way and I find myself following her...in a totally non-creepy, non-stalkerish sort of way...for miles and miles.

Finally, about five miles from where I would turn off her signal comes on. I go on around her and get a high-beam "Hello" flash, which I answer with a quick round of emergency flashers. I think that it's been a good night, I'm pleased that she noticed that I was there, and I hope she comes to a few more events so I can see her again. Maybe, I think, I'll even learn to shuffle my feet so I can ask her to dance with me.

Imagine my surprise when, through the group messaging system, I get a message from her. She liked my car so much, she says, that she had to go out and get a new one of her own.

We message back and forth a few times and I look at the group events calendar and see her name on one of the events that I had no intention at all of attending. But she's going to be there, so what the hell, I sign up, too. It's for Valentines Day, even better, so maybe I can get her to dance with me, and maybe I won't step on her while we dance, and maybe I can find a quiet corner where we can talk a bit sometime in course of the evening.

Friday night and Boy drags me off to skating rink hell. I mention this in a message and she tells me she likes to skate (light bulb!) and she and T are going out to grab a bite since neither of them want to see 50 Shades of Ghey, which is what the group is doing that evening.

At this point it's beginning to sink through my Neanderthal thick skull that maybe...just maybe...she is being more than just casually polite. I've been out of the game for a while and I was never very good at it, so I am no good at all at reading signals, and really never was. But there is a light dawning in my feeble brain, so I decide to make the most of it. The rum bottle gets emptied as I contemplate this decision.

Saturday dawns bright and early and I notice that I have missed a message from her. I send her a message back, she sends me a message back...and in this message is a phone number that I haven't yet worked up the nerve to ask for. The light brightens.

I go help Range Partner move his gun safe (note, gun safes are big and heavy) but I say nothing except that I have an event that day that I'm hoping to attend. I don't want to jinx it, Range Partner has had enough of his own troubles lately without me burdening him with mine..but I console myself with the fact that I know where I can find a drink later if I need one so there is that.

There are actually two events that day, one in the late morning and early afternoon and then the one that evening that I signed up for just because I saw her name on it. I did make it to the first event just in time for everyone to split and head their separate ways, but I do get to see that smile again, and it is every bit as much as I remembered. I go back home and inform the boys that I would not be available for the night, and when Eldest Boy asks where we're going I tell him.

"Oh" he says, "that's a gay bar."

"STFU! Is it?" I look it up. It is.

(A note about the event coordinator for this little soiree, he's the same guy that set up the Friday movie event that M and T skipped out on.)

So I use that new phone number that I just got and say WTF, did you know? She didn't, but we agree that we will stick together, and if nothing else we can point and laugh. (I'm thinking more along the lines of seeing if I can convince her to make an exit with me, but all in good time.) Into the shower I go, and when I emerge Boy is standing at the door watching the snow. But you've heard this story before, haven't you? Anyway, I give her the link to this blog and await my fate.

I will take her out for the first time on Friday.

17 February 2015

Fast n' Furious 15: Snow Drift

Last night winter descended on the Piedmont with a vengeance, coating any surface it could reach with a layer of snow followed by a misting of ice.

The Baja didn't want to start this morning to go home, it had to be kicked over three times before it finally conceded to stay running. Once it had agreed to the task, however, it handled the snowy roads with a Subaru sure-footedness typical of the breed.

This is the kind of weather I would expect in a late Iowa December, not a mid February North Carolina...or any other time in North Carolina either for that matter.

If I should ever meet Al Gore I'm going to junk-punch him until his eyes bleed. That Mann jackass is going down as well, and should that Hansen asshole from NASA open his festering suckhole in my presence I may just become homicidal.

On a more pleasant note, though, since Teacher didn't have to go to school today she stayed up most the night trading texts with me. Somewhere around 4:30 I stopped getting answers, so I'm guessing that's about the time she hit the wall.

Things seem to be working out pretty well in this regard.

(You can't tell me you didn't see that one coming. Shut it MSgt B.)

15 February 2015

All I Can Say Is

OK then. :D

Starting Out

I was supposed to be spending last night out on the town with a Meetup singles group that I am in but unfortunately (or maybe fortuitously, the jury is still out on that one) we got snowed out. The event was planned later in the evening than usual, and at a place where I normally wouldn't have gone...but there's this girl, and she was going, so what the hell I was going, too.

I talked to her briefly (where we ascertained that yes, good idea or bad we were both still in) and then got into the shower, and when I got out of the shower Boy was standing at the patio door looking at the snow coming down. It had started around 9 and by the time I was getting in the car to go at 9:30 it was snowing as if I was still in Iowa, the only difference being that nothing was sticking.

I called in to check with the event coordinator (Bluetooth, living in this modern world is pretty amazing) and offer the services of the sure-footed Baja if anyone needed transportation. He was having doubts as to whether it would be a good idea to press on, and sure enough before I had made it ten miles he was calling back to cancel. So back to the house I went, where I noticed I had a text, which prompted another phone call.

I find myself thinking the sort of thoughts which I have not thought in a while. I'm still not quite sure yet how it's going to work out; she's a schoolteacher, that lot tends to run liberal and I'm at least on the conservative side of libertarian (EDIT: no longer a concern). She's from Pennsylvania, or so I surmise by the fact that her parents are there (EDIT: status verified), although she's trying to get them to move closer (good luck with that). My favorite railroad is in Pennsylvania, and when I mentioned that she said she's never been to Steamtown but thinks she'd like to go see it at least once, so that's a point in her favor.

She had a chance to go out with the group to see 50 Shades of Ghey (the only evidence needed to know there is something seriously amiss in Hollywierd; poorly written Twilight fanfic gets a movie and Larry Correia does not???) the other night when I was in skating rink hell and passed up the opportunity, which is another point in her favor. She mentioned the fact that she used to like to skate, so I might see if she wants to go with us next time. Hell, I might even get my uncoordinated ass out on the floor if that happens. 

She's also a Browncoat, or at least a sympathizer, which is yet another point in her favor and might negate the assumption that she was an Obama voter (EDIT: incorrect assumption) (we haven't discussed religion or politics yet) (EDIT: we have discussed it briefly). She also said she liked the show Top Shot (another point in the plus column), and although I haven't yet mentioned the fact that I'm a CCW permit holder this at least suggests she would tolerate it (EDIT: she has, in fact, opened up the possibility of getting her own).

(Time out to offer my condolences to Range Partner. Sorry it didn't work out.)

She may not be Ms America (but no Mr Universe am I; she is far from unattractive by any means, I hasten to add, even if she's not a redhead), but she has this smile that lights up the world, and when a fellow sees it he finds himself doing things that make her do it so he can see it again. The right sort of chap would spend the rest of his life making her smile, and at the end of it find that he had not wasted a single moment.

Time will tell, I suppose, if I am that sort of chap.

UPDATE: I gave her the link to the blog and have been informed that up until last year she was a redhead. Capt Obvious says "woot" and since she knew enough to mention it that means she read this entry at least and didn't go running off into the distance. That's good, right?

14 February 2015

Don't Know

if this is something...or not...

I've been out of the dating game for a while now, and I wasn't really good at it to begin with.

So now...there's this girl.

I don't know if she is wanting something significant or it is something along the lines of "I'm bored, entertain me."

If it's something...I don't want to miss it.

If it's nothing...I don't want to read more into it than what is there.

Damn...why does life have to be so complicated...

and she's not even a redhead...

EDIT: Looks like it might be something. I have a number, and didn't have to ask for it.

13 February 2015


something pretty amazing happened a couple of days ago. We will have to see how much of that gets rescinded, overturned or flat ignored, but at least a blow was struck.

Something else is coming up the pike, let's see what happens with it as well. My guess is it doesn't get out of the Senate, and if it does it gets vetoed without enough votes to override.

At any rate, looks like the gun control pendulum is swinging back this way.

Going Shopping

The Viore rear-projection TV that I had the bulb replaced in about four and a half years ago needs a bulb again.

Last time it cost me right at four bills. Accounting for inflation it may be cheaper to go get a new TV. One that won't cost me four bills every four or five years.

Not what I wanted to do with my Friday, but what the hell, it's too cold for convertibles anyway.

11 February 2015


How did THIS happen? It's almost the middle of February, I haven't changed my header pic, and GFA hasn't dropped by to give me a hard time about it.

Allow me to correct this glaring deficiency:

Think of it as a hope for spring.

This Is Why

I call the Subaru a "trucklet" rather than a "truck":

Yeah...kinda feeling like that little skinny guy at the gym...


One of the new toys that came with the Mustang was SiriusXM and a 6 month paid subscription. I liked it so much I got a Sirius portable unit for the Subaru as well.

The one thing I didn't like about the Subaru's unit was it was a stand-alone, which means it had a mount affixed to the dash with double-side sticky tape. Along with its power adapter that had to be plugged into the cigarette lighter it was in the way, and the adaptor took up the only outlet I had so had to get a triple to plug into the stock outlet, and every time I'd shift into 5th I ran the chance of hitting that power adapter and shutting the radio off momentarily.

So a couple of weeks ago I went out and got the unit that plugs into the back of the aftermarket radio I put in the Subaru, so now the Sirius is integrated into the rest of the radio controls and there isn't a brick stuck on the dash in the way, not to mention no power adapter sticking out. It's a much cleaner look and I like it a lot better.

When I got the acknowledgement that I had shut one off and activated another in the email there was also an offer for SiriusXM on the cell phone, for a nominal fee (four bucks a month), so I got it on the phone as well. Now I can plug it into the computer and play it through the computer speaker system (I have a stand-alone speaker set for the computer) or I can plug it into the home stereo system (which we hadn't used much since leaving Florida actually, but now I've dug it out of the corner I'm using it more).

So what's really cool is I'm listening to The Shadow radio show on Radio Classics (channel 82) while I sit here on my modern newfangled computing device pounding on the keyboards to write this missive.

Ain't technology grand?

07 February 2015


As if my ventures into Nn3 aren't enough, I have a new scale now.

I picked up an AZL Mikado in a package sale (along with a GP7 diesel and a bay window caboose, which may or may not be right for the Nickel Plate Road) with the intent of turning it into an EBT Nn3 Mike, but it doesn't have the right driver diameter. So I'm expanding into Z scale a bit.

Besides, this little Mike is just too darling to take apart, wouldn't you say? Look at the astounding level of detail in this miniature loco, keeping in mind this is scaled down 220 to 1. I have N scale (1:160) locomotives without this much detail.

I've picked up some MicroTrains Micro-Track Z scale track with roadbed, I've had to fiddle with some of the turnouts (what us model railroaders call switches so as not to confuse them with the devices that route electrical power) but it's all running pretty well now.

And so with Z in mind I've been on a car buying spree lately. It looks like I should have gotten the locos in Pennsylvania Railroad livery (what us model railroaders call the paint job) since so much of the rolling stock is PRR. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lot available for the Nickel Plate in Z, and besides there wasn't a choice of road names in the package deal (not that I would have cared at the time since I was going to strip them down). At least they are both northeastern roads.

Yes I'm well aware that I am mixing eras, the steam locos were long gone by the time the boxcar on the siding came into service (and most of the GP7 fleet had been rebuilt or replaced with newer series) and you would never have seen it on the same road at the same time as the yellow wooden reefer in the middle of the consist (what us model railroaders call a line of cars hooked together). What the hell, I'm sticking with Rule Number One; it's my railroad and I'll run what I want.

And speaking of the GP7, it's a handsome locomotive as well, with detail every bit as exquisite as its N scale counterparts. It even has directional headlights (what us model railroaders call it when the light at whatever end is leading is lit up but the one at the trailing end is not), something that my N scale SD7 is lacking.

Z scale sure is darned expensive when compared to N though, so there won't be much more of it.

03 February 2015

Did You Know

that when you shut the power switch off on a Takatori MWS812SD wire saw the pump on top of the slurry tank continues to run?

I didn't.

Bet I'll never forget it now, though.

02 February 2015

30 January 2015

Do You Mean To Tell Me

that I don't have any .45ACP target ammo to shoot up?

Well, I will be damned. I have absolutely no excuse for the sorry state I find myself in. It's a good thing I can find it on the shelf these days otherwise I'd have to break into my reserves.

Looks like I'll be spending some quality time with the reloading bench. I wonder if the toy store has any pistol powder? Since I'll be in the neighborhood I'll drop by and check.

Yes boys and girls, it's RANGE DAY!!! I can certainly use it.

27 January 2015

There It Is

This morning when I left RTP it was a little damp and the clouds were starting to clear away.

As I got closer to home I started to see snow on the ground.

 Yes, I pulled over to take these.

View from my porch (with appropriate apologies offered).

Doggeh didn't quite know what to think of it.

By the time I got up this afternoon it was all gone.

24 January 2015

Chicken and Rice

When I did my first cruise on USS Washington (CVN-73) Laura and I had not yet been married a year. She wasn't much of a domestic goddess so she didn't cook much. Imagine my surprise when I returned from that first cruise to find out she had prepared dinner for me.

Let me interrupt this tale to relay the fact that on Washington we had some kind of chicken and some kind of rice for every single meal, including breakfast. The chicken may have been eggs for breakfast, but there was always rice. Steamed rice, rice pilaf, Mexican rice, and yes, you guessed it, chicken and rice.

Needless to say I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the evening meal.

It was the last time she cooked chicken and rice. In fact, it was the last time she prepared a post-cruise meal for me at all. It was not, however, the last time I heard about it. If there are any active duty military reading this post take some advice; if the wife cooks you something when you get back home, shut up and eat it. With a smile. Without comments, except to tell her how great it is and how much you appreciate her going through all the trouble. Trust me on this.

At any rate, today I had a hankering for some good old fashioned chicken and rice.*

Chicken and Rice

1 medium chicken, 4-6 lbs
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme (1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme)
Ground black pepper
Kosher salt
3 cups rice


Combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, and a tablespoon each of salt and pepper in a large pot, add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Add water as necessary to keep the chicken covered, and continue to gently simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (the juices from the thigh will run clear), about 40 minutes to an hour.

Remove the chicken from the broth and allow it to cool for approx 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to debone. Strain the vegetables from the broth and put them into a large bowl. Pour the strained broth into another container so that you can use the stock pot.

Debone the chicken and place it in the bowl with the vegetables. Add about a half cup of broth to moisten the chicken back up and stir well. Put the chicken and vegetables back into the stock pot. Add 6 cups of broth and the rice, stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is done.

You will have about 2 quarts of broth left over. Freeze it and use it in other recipes, it's good stuff.

*Please note, this is not her recipe. In fact, I don't think she had a recipe other than cook rice, throw some canned chicken into it. As I said, she wasn't much of a cook.

22 January 2015


I got an email today from FaithVoters4Hillary.

I think they may want to check their email lists against their target demographic. I'm pretty sure I ain't it.

21 January 2015

Southern Weather

Yesterday the temps were in the mid 60's and the sun was shining, so I took the car down and washed it. It needed the wash job pretty badly, I'm not as good about washing it as I should be (because every time I wash it I seem to find another ding in the paint).

Astute observers might recall that a mere seven days ago we were experiencing freezing rain. Oh what difference a week makes.

You have to take these days where you can, the freezing rain should be back Monday morning.

 UPDATE: Now it's just rain for Monday, but we're supposed to have wintery mix a week from Saturday. When these guys can predict the weather accurately a week in advance I might be a little more convinced about Glow-Bull Warmening. Until then...yeah, not so much.

16 January 2015

Of Kilts And Quilts

I only got into the kilt thing because of the annual Kilted to Kick Cancer campaign but it is an interesting garment with an equally interesting history (TL;DR, if it weren't for the hated British Army kilts may have no longer been with us, they were banned from 1746 to 1782 except for the Highland Regiments of the British Army).

A traditional kilt (the one that everyone thinks of when you say "kilt") is a tailored garment, but a Great Kilt is essentially nothing more than a blanket, 54 to 60 inches wide by 7-9 yards long, held on with a belt. Kilts may be pleated to the sett, which repeats the pattern around the pleated part, or to the stripe, which centers a selected stripe of the tartan on each exposed portion of the pleat. Most "military" kilts are pleated to the stripe because it was easier and therefore faster to do.

The traditional kilt only needs half the length of material to make than the Great Kilt because modern looms weave 54-60 inch widths; it is essentially cut in half and sewn together to make the length. The Great Kilt requires the 54-60 inch width so it can't be cut in half and must have the entire length.

(Here's an interesting note, the Great Kilt was originally made from cloth woven on 30" looms; they needed two 7-9 yard lengths sewn together to make a 60" width. Since modern looms weave a 54-60" width rather than 30" you only need one 7-9 yard length to make a Great Kilt now.)

American patterned kilts have an apron length 1/3 of the waist, but the traditional Scottish pattern has an apron length 1/2 of the waist. Since the Scottish pattern has less pleated length it actually uses less material.

At any rate, once you check into kilts you find they are damnably expensive, partially because of the work involved in the pleating process and partially because of the cost of the cloth itself. The cost includes the weight and the dyes; true tartans are not printed, they are woven from individually colored threads and so it takes a lot of work on the part of the weaver to create specific tartans.

Additionally, the tartans are registered and sometimes can only legally be made by one manufacturer. The U.S. Navy Edzell and Seabee tartans, for example, are registered to and can only be legally made by Strathmore Woollen Company and will run you 31 pounds sterling (currently a bit over 47 USD) per meter for the lighter weight fabric and 35.17 pounds ($53.51 USD) for the heavier fabric.

The amount of cloth needed to make a kilt depends on the style of kilt you are making, the waist measurement of the intended wearer, the sett (distance until the pattern repeats) of the tartan, and the desired pleat width (which can itself be a function of the sett). The formula for determining how much material you need, for the American pattern, is:

{[(waist/3 x 2) x (sett + pleat width)]+(waist/3 x 2)} x 1.2

For the Scottish pattern (waist/3 x 2) is substituted with waist/2 in the formula, so the second term simply becomes the waist measurement, simplifying the equation:

{[waist/2 x (sett + pleat width)] + waist/2} x 1.2

American kilts are 1 1/3 waist length and Scottish kilts are 1 1/2 waist length, but the pleated parts are 2/3 waist length and 1/3 waist length respectively, and since the pleated portion gets multiplied by sett+pleat width the American pattern takes more cloth. For the American pattern, using the Edzell tartan at 5 5/8" sett with a 1 1/8" pleat width and a 40" waist, you would need roughly 3.5 yards; for the Scottish pattern using the same measurements you would only need a bit over 2.5 yards (I would need 4.1333 yards and 3.1 yards respectively and I'll thank you to leave that math alone).

If you haven't guessed yet, I'm considering making my own kilt for this year. My mother's family name, Roberts, is associated with Clan Donnachaidh so I could conceivably claim any of their tartans (although I'd certainly want to get the DNA testing done first), or I can use the Roberts of Wales tartan, or there is the US Navy Edzell tartan, and if I really want to stretch it I might be able to lay some claim to the US Navy Seabee tartan from my paternal grandfather (although in that case I'd want to pleat to the sett rather than to the stripe).

However, since some historical records indicate that the clan adoption of individual tartans didn't occur until after the ban was lifted (before the ban they depended more on the individual weavers and thus were more regionally associated) it really isn't critical that I use any specific tartan. Given the costs involved I'll probably just find something suitable and use that, at least for my first attempt.

And so, armed with a couple of websites, I make my plans. Maybe something will come of it and maybe not.

(The astute observer will note that, despite the title of the post, no quilts were mentioned...until now.)

15 January 2015


Yeah, they were just here.

They spent an hour demonstrating how the brand-new Kirby can pick up more dirt in an hour than the old Kirby can pick up in 5 minutes, and then offered me a great deal on the new one. I think they were a bit put out when I pointed out the two machines were identical besides the color of the bag and declined their generous offer.

The old one would probably work better if I put it to work more often.

14 January 2015

Winter Weather Advisory

Freezing rain today in the Triangle. I got to drive home in it.

Note to my fellow North Carolinians: 4WD is not magic and it will not automatically enable you to continue to drive like an idiot on the ice. Also, slow down and stop following me so close, I'm not going to speed up. Not today. Watch out for that tree there bub...like the way you did the complete 180 and hit it tailgate first, though. That should buff right out. Sure, no problem, I'll wait for the state trooper, I obviously have nothing better to do.

Fortunately I have nowhere to be today, and all day to get there.

09 January 2015

My First Official Act

One of the things you may or may not know about the ol' Scoundrel is I am an ordained minister through Universal Life Church (and you can be, too!) although I've never done any official clergy type stuff. I only got it so I could counter some jackass using his ordination as moral superiority in an online chat room. (remember those?) Not a very good reason, I agree, but it is a reason.

Now my bluff has been called, so to speak. I've been asked to officiate a wedding ceremony, and according to everything I have read so far I am qualified under the laws and guidelines of the State of North Carolina to do so.

I find this oddly satisfying, and since the person requesting is a close personal friend I am honored to do so. Said blessed event is over a year off, but I'll be ordering the required materials immediately so that the planning can be started.

I'm looking forward to this (which is another thing I find oddly satisfying).

08 January 2015


is just ree-damn-diculous.

I moved south to get away from temperatures like this.

Well, that and because there aren't any aircraft carriers home-ported in Omaha.

02 January 2015

31 December 2014

This Is The End, My Friends

Of the year, that is.

Come this time tomorrow 2014 will have shed this mortal coil and the upstart 2015 will have usurped its place. As in years past foul play will not have been suspected, although once again the timing certainly is convenient.

And at the end of the old year, allow me to suggest a theme...some none of my lies are true.


(click on pic for Dave Barry's column)

Everyone stay safe tonight, see you next year!

27 December 2014

Be Careful What You Ask For

I don't think this will end like they think it will end.

Maybe someone could explain to me what the sense is in picking a fight with the people who own all the guns?


Yesterday in the mail were two items of note.

The first was a book, Altered Perceptions, that I ordered as part of an Indiegogo project to help an author out with mental issues. It has short stories and snippets (including an alternate ending to Brandon Sanderson's "The Way of Kings" which I won't be  reading until I've finished with the book) from several well-known authors including (obviously) Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia and John C. Wright. I'm looking forward to the read, but it goes to the bottom of a substantial stack of paper books (darn this Kindle addiction).

The second package contained gun leather. I alluded to having a holster made for Grand-dad's High Standard and promised to elaborate when the new belt and holster for the Sig had arrived. Today is the day. The belt and holsters were made by Ed Hall, and when you order yours as you know you want to you can contact Ed by email at chucksteelman5@gmail.com.

First, the pics:

First impressions of the gun belt:

This is a substantial piece of leather.

This is the first actual gun belt that I have owned and I must admit that I was not quite prepared for the solidity of it. When I threaded the holster on the belt I was impressed by the tight fit of the belt to the belt openings. I actually had to unthread the belt once to reposition the holster because I had not slid the holster back far enough when putting the belt on, and let me tell you once that belt is threaded through the holster the holster WILL NOT move.

Aesthetically it is a fine looking piece of leather as well, the tooling and color is just right to match the holsters and it is just a nice piece of work. I especially liked the intricate weave pattern that the maker put on both the belt and the holsters, it is a nice touch and really ties them together.

Functionally it holds the holster solidly, once you put the holsters in place they STAY in place, just as it should be. It holds the holster much tighter to the body as well, which will certainly enhance the concealability of the rig when such things are an issue (such as when I carry in Florida).

Moving around I liked the way I wasn't constantly knocking my elbow against the gun, and no matter what I was doing I never had the impression that I was losing control of the firearm. The gun butt stayed tucked tightly in to my side, just as it should, which has certainly not been the case with the regular belt I had been using.

I tried it with the Sig's new leather, the Sig's old leather (a commercially made Bianchi Minimalist), the Galco Stow n' Go I use for the Glocks, the Dragon Leatherworks Fugly for the Glocks, and the Galco Matrix paddle holster for the Glocks and the new gun belt held every one of them solidly. I had stopped wearing the Fugly in particular because it felt like the holster was tipping over when I was sitting and I was afraid I'd drop the gun out of it. Since this is no longer an issue I expect I'll be wearing the Fugly more often now.

In short, until you have actually owned an honest-to-goodness gun belt you don't realize just how much you need one.

First impressions of the holsters:

When I got the holster made for Grand-dad's High Standard it was the first piece of leather I had ever had made for that particular item. None of the regular manufacturers, either custom or commercial, had a holster for the High Standard Model H-B, which is not surprising given the age of the gun. Since it was on the way when I was going to Florida for Thanksgiving I contacted Ed, dropped the gun off to him and picked up the gun and the holster on my way back.

As you can see it is a very nice looking piece of leather in its own right, and as can be expected from a custom fit it fits the gun like a glove. It holds the gun securely without hindering the draw, and it is exactly what it should be - an attractive and functional home for the gun when it is being carried.

The Sig's holster is likewise a handsome and functional cut of cowhide. The only caveat about the Sig is that it was made from a P226 form instead of molded to the actual firearm (P220) like the High Standard was so it is a bit tight on the fit.

Ed explained to me that it would likely be this way and included instructions on how to loosen it up a bit. If I had the P220R model with the rails, like everyone else, this probably would not have been an issue but of course I have to be difficult.

At first I had some trouble with the draw, the pistol did not want to come out of the holster. I attributed that to the tight fit, but as it turned out the issue was not a fault of the holster at all but rather with the Sig's front sight.

I had not noticed it before, but the back edge of the front sight was vertical and extremely sharp and was digging into the leather and pulling at the stitching when I attempted to draw. Rounding the back edge of the sight has done wonders in improving the fit of the holster, and the draw is now smooth.

I will of course have to carry the Sig in its new leather for a while before I can give a long-term report on it, but going on first impressions I am both fully satisfied with my purchases and enthusiastically willing to give Ed Hall the Refuge Seal of Approval (for what that is worth).