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