Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A State Of Mind

Someone asked me once if there are still hillbillies in Kentucky.  Hillbilliness isn't determined by where you live, it's a state of mind.  The new radio tower down the road has not had its light working for several days, so I stopped to take a look.  The light was powered by extension cords taped together at the plugs, and the bottom one pulled apart.  If the electrician who rigged this has a card, it probably says Mountain William somewhere in the credentials.

This tower is a bit over 200', so if you are flying near 38 Degrees 13' 10.3" North, 88 Degrees 37' 47.2" West, watch out.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration Day

Decoration Day came about soon after our Civil War, which began 150 years ago.  We have visited many Civil War battlefields and cemeteries over the years, and the scale of that conflict is still difficult to comprehend.  In researching and reading about the Civil War, two poems stuck in my head that are appropriate for this day.  Will M. Carleton was a very popular poet during the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, and was rejected for service during the conflict because he was too young.

Cover them over with beautiful flowers,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,
Lying so silent by night and by day
Sleeping the years of their manhood away.
Give them the meed they have won in the past,
Give them the honors their future forecast;
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.

Will M. Carleton

Theodore O'Hara served in the U.S. Army, fighting in the Mexican War, and in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  His poem, The Bivouac Of The Dead, was written to commemorate comrades who died in Mexico, but it has been used since the Civil War by both sides to remember our fallen heroes.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not My Victrola: Memorial Day Weekend

In observance of the 150 years that have passed since our Civil War began, let's listen to a couple of old recordings of 'The Vacant Chair.' The first one is an instrumental version, published by Columbia in 1906 and uploaded by cdbpbx.



EdmundStAustell shares a 1915 recording of The 'Vacant Chair' by John McCormack, which was probably on a Victor Red Label record. I think this upload is taken from a CD, and Mr. Austell has disabled embedding, so you will need to click here to go to YouTube and listen.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekend Steam



Uploaded by fridaywo.

Steam cog railway in Austria running from St Wolfgang to Schafberg (elevation 1,783 m) since the railway was opened in 1893.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crankin' It Up



Victor disc number 17884 was recorded on October 11, 1916. The Georgia Grind is a popular song that is common on YouTube today, played by many different artists.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Range Time!


The final weekend in May is coming up, so schedule some time for to shoot Mr. Completely's May e-Postal contest, which is hosted by Danno at Sand Castle Scrolls this month. And while you are getting ready to shoot Mr. C's contest, you might as well hop over to Random Acts of Patriotism and download the target for the contest hosted by ASM826. Take along friends and family and have a great time!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Big Doin's At Carmi, Illinois!



I have been noticing The Carmi Rifle Club in our local news, and finally took some time to visit one of the events at this great little club. They have a busy schedule of events for their members, and host the NRA's Women On Target annually. I may head over there again Saturday to watch the members do a Steel Challenge event.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goin' Buggy


The ticks are thick this year, and I don't step out of the truck without liberal applications of deet and permethrin.  Most of the ticks we find are the tiny deer ticks, which you don't know are on you until they are very well embedded and you start itching from a histamine reaction.  It makes you glad to have a dog tick.  The lone star ticks make you itch worse than the others, and you actually know from the way their bite itches what you are going to find when you begin searching for the little blighter.  The best tool for removing them from your hide is the Tick Twister, and I keep one with me at all times.

On a happier, more pleasant note, Brood XIX is emerging in Southern Illinois, and other Midwest locations.  These are thirteen year periodical cicadas, and we will be entertained by their song for about one month.  Click over to Magicada.org to record locations where you see these fascinating insects.  Researchers who track periodical cicadas are largely navigating from cicada maps drawn in the Nineteenth Century, and they really need information from the masses.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blogging Is Coming Up Short



We are spending most of our daylight hours outside now that the weather has finally switched over to Spring-Mode. Work on the barn came to a screeching halt last fall, but we are ready to hit it again, and plan to button up the corner we tore apart last year. Jason delivered a thousand board feet of siding boards, fresh off of his sawmill, and looked over our rebuilding project. His opinion? "Well, there's strength in angles!!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It Came Around Again



Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola

Sunny Side Up (1929) is one of the most memorable early talkies,and in addition to being lots of fun to watch, it has some great songs. With the song Keep Your Sunny Side Up, we see Academy Award winner Janet Gaynor knocking it out of the park as she makes the transition from silent films to talkies. 



The Stock Market crash of 1929 marked the end of player piano manufacture.  Pianosyncrazy shares his Atlas roll of the song with us.




PerfectJazz78 shares this copy of Keep Your Sunny Side Up from the film.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend Steam



GJStrutt shared this interesting video with us, which shows a steam launch under way, somewhere in Florida.  While trying to select a steam video this week I found lots of steam launch enthusiasts on YouTube.

Here's one that should fit into almost anyone's budget, courtesy of mastmar.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crankin' It Up



Have a listen to the words, and you will know immediately that this song was recorded before the Lusitania was torpedoed. I looked it up on 78 Discography, and Peter Lamar performed this great little song for us in January, 1902. We break out in this song every time we pass one of those orange semi-trucks on the Interstate.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Company Dreads It.....

...the slide show of vacation photos.  This video is from a trip we took a few weeks ago to Eastern Kentucky, where we attended the wedding of my college roommate's kid.  Traveling out the Mountain Parkway sure did trigger some old feelings, and it was great to see friends we hadn't visited for many years.  I sure don't expect visitors to True Blue Sam to sit through the whole show, but you will enjoy a look if you pull the slider over to 6:10 and watch for a minute.  The fellow doing the clog dance is closer to 60 than 50, and he is a tough-as-nails arborist-forester-outdoorsman.



The clog dancing and most of the wedding photos are by Jason, one of the groom's brothers.

Blogging Newsbits

Be sure to schedule time for the weekend to shoot Mr. Completely's May e-Postal contest, which is hosted by Danno at Sand Castle Scrolls this month.  And while you are getting ready to shoot Mr. C's contest, you might as well hop over to Random Acts of Patriotism and download the target for the contest hosted by ASM826.  Take along friends and family and have a great time!

Mr. Completely and a whole bunch of other gun bloggers have been nominated in a popularity contest over at Lucky Gunner Ammo.  Winners get a neat trophy, plus 100 rounds of ammo.  Mr. C has been nominated in the Entertainment Category, along with The Packing Rat, Anthroblogogy, Days of Our Trailers, and several other blogs that I read regularly.   There are so many choices that deciding which blog to vote for is difficult, but go vote, and show your support for your favorite blogs.  True Blue Sam isn't one of the choices; I wonder if I could nominate myself for Best Blog With A Theme Song.

Gun Blogger Rendezvous VI is now just four months away, and it will be bigger and better than ever this year.  Click over and print out a registration form, fill it out and put it in the mail.  Make your room reservations, and your travel plans.  The Rendezvous is not just for bloggers!  Everyone who reads the blogs, or is a shooting enthusiast will fit right in and have a great time, so sign up right away!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Up In Our Neighborhood

A local radio station is putting up a tower just two miles south of the farm, and it has been educational watching the process.  Last month the base was poured, and a crew built the tower a few days ago.

 Now That's A Pole!



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clay Pan Soils


A big chunk of Southern Illinois is called the Clay Pan District.  The soils here are old; formed in glacial till from the Illinoisan Glacier, dating back about 180,000 years.   The prairie soils north of this area date from less than 20,000 years ago, and are formed in Wisconsinin Glacial till.  All those extra years have moved minerals downward in the soil profile, forming a tough layer called a fragipan, and it is very restrictive to movement of water, and root development.  These soils will have a perched water table in the winter and spring, and can be very hot and dry in the late summer.  Tree species location is closely governed by these soils.  The amount of slope, and the depth to the fragipan are two very important factors on clay pan soils that have to be considered when you are planting trees.

Clay pan soils cause the root wads of trees to have a flat bottom, and limit the grip a tree can have on the earth.

This tree was tipped over by a severe storm, and it illustrates the limitations imposed on root growth by clay pan soils.  The roots of this tree were also being limited by changes in the site due to construction and lawn mowing.  Large mature trees need to be evaluated regularly when they are within striking distance of homes; especially on sites with restricted root zones.  Trees that are planted on clay pan soils must be able to tolerate the wet conditions in the spring and hot, dry conditions during summer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fast Reloads With Your Mini-14, Courtesy of Ruger



RugerFirearms has posted another great carbine video with instructor Dave Spaulding. Mini-14's have a reputation for running with fewer problems than AR's, and they are just retro enough that they hold great appeal for me. I traded mine away many years ago in a weak moment, and I have regretted it ever since.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weekend Steam: Putting Gears In Your Head

Engineering Johnson has been overseas for many weeks now, setting up machinery in a factory in less-than-ideal surroundings, mostly with no-one to turn to for answers to hard problems.  (What would you do if monsoon rains were pouring through the roof onto your electronic control panel?)  The little bits he can share with his family always amaze me; how could a kid from Southern Illinois develop such great skill in working with machines used in modern manufacturing?


 Before he went off to college to become a mechanical engineer, he visited a couple of steam shows every year, starting when he was just six months old.  Reciprocating parts, open gears, big wheels (Really big to a toddler!) were exposed to his young mind over and over.

I never knew how much of this he was able to take in and process; here you have a chain drive (It makes a wonderful grumbly sound when it runs.), spur gears, and a differential gear assembly at eye level for a kid to examine.  Machines like this are fertilizer for a gear-head.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fast And Easy Soil Maps

Anyone shopping for land, planning to build, wanting to plant trees, and etc., needs to consult a soil map for their property. Soil maps published by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are available online, and are easily accessible by anyone with basic skills for surfing on websites. The greatest difficulty you may have is navigating to the acreage you are interested in . The NRCS site, WebSoilSurvey.nrcs.usda.gov, has several navigation methods for you to go to the right spot, and once you have done it a few times it is easy.

(Click On Photos To Enlarge)

Most of the United States is covered by the Public Land Survey System, a grid system that is easy to navigate if you have a plat book for the county you are in.  This system is based on Principal Meridians and Base Lines, and you must know your Meridian number from this map to navigate the PLSS on the soil survey site.

Google Earth can be used to locate a site quickly, which will give you the latitude and longitude at the bottom of the screen.  When you know how to navigate to your site, go to the Web Soil Survey site and begin.


Click on the green Start button.


The navigation page comes up in a new window.  The navigation choices are on the left side of the page.


Plug in the information, and click the View button.


The section you selected will come up on the right side of the screen.


Go to the menu bar above the photo, and click on the Area Of Interest (AOI) polygon icon.


Click your way around the acreage, double clicking on the final corner.


Cross-hatching will appear over the AOI.


Go back to the top, and click on the Soil Map tab.


Soil information will be displayed on the left side of the screen...


...and your soil map will be on the right.  Once you become familiar with the soil types in your area, maps like this one translate into a relief map in your mind, and tell you what types of trees are probably growing there.


Right click on the map, and save it to a folder so you can refer to it later, and print it out for field use.

Blog Readers From Texas!!!

I received a message from The Weapon Blog about important legislation in Texas.  Click over and read, then make the calls.   Even if you don't want to 'open carry,' this is an important issue.  Folks who accidentally expose their firearm in concealed carry states do run into trouble with law enforcement.  If you live in Texas, or intend to visit, this law is for you!  Let the legislators know that you care about this issue; do it today!

Brand New Cecropia Moth



This moth had just emerged from its winter home last week, and was stretching its muscles. Fritz Kreisler provides the mood music.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Spring...

 ...and a forester's thoughts turn to ...FUNGUS!  The Midwest is loaded with blue spruce trees that are only about 1000 miles off site, so problems should be no surprise.  One of the problems we have is Rhizosphaera Needle Cast, a fungus that infects new, tender needles in the humid environment of Middle America.  Rhizosphaera starts out low, and usually on the north side of a tree, and works its way upward over a period of several years. 
 Homeowners usually do not notice a problem until the disease is well on its way to the top of the tree.  You might save a tree at this stage, but it does require regular spraying of a fungicide, and removal of all diseased branches.

Trees with only a short top-knot of live needles are too far gone to be saved.

The new growth has to be protected by regular spraying in the spring.  Directions on fungicide labels will tell you to spray every two weeks, but my experience shows that two weeks is too long an interval.  Spray every week, and after rain events, and keep in mind that spraying is a preventative treatment for uninfected needles, not a cure for sick ones.  You should also prune the lowest limbs off of spruce trees to keep them off the ground, and to improve air circluation.

The machine in the photo is a Solo mist blower, and one of these is a must if you have fruit trees, and other trees or plants that require spraying.  It can also be used for building fire line for prescribed burns, and for fire fighting.  This particular machine has been in use for over twenty years, and that helps take away the sting of the initial cost.

GLOCK's In!

Mr. Completely has just posted the news that GLOCK is once again donating one of their fine pistols to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous! You can't win if you don't attend, so click over to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous website, and register right away.

(And don't forget that you also might win one of these.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ruger's Videos From The NRA Annual Meeting

Ruger has been very active on YouTube for the last few years, and they have done a great job of sharing their display with those of us who could not attend the NRA meeting in Pittsburgh.











Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Steam: Derby Disappointment

This was Derby Week in Louisville, and a tradition since 1963 has been the Great Steamboat Race, held three days before the horse race.  High water on the Ohio River has caused the event to be postponed until June 29. 


(Video by hrvideo.)

Reading up on this annual event will give you a couple more disappointments.  The Delta Queen has been retired as a dry-docked hotel at Chattanooga, and the last time that grand old boat raced at Louisville was 2009.  The current opponent for the Belle of Louisville is the Belle of Cincinnati, a DIESEL powered boat.  Oh Well, or words to that effect.


(Video by WGrenning)

These two videos from YouTube provide us with some good looks at the Belle of Louisville. Read up on the Belle at the link above. She is the oldest operating steamboat in America; built in 1914.

I remember reading "Life On The Mississippi" by Mark Twain, way back when I was in high school.  This quote gives me the urge to check out that book and read it again. We will never see real steamboat races such as Mark Twain saw, and I highly recommend "Life On The Mississippi" if you want a nostalgic look at the good old days.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Steam and Gas Shows Coming Right Up!



Now that spring is finally here, my thoughts are turning to steam and gas engine shows. This barn fresh International was on display at Pinckneyville last summer, and I have held off posting it because of the lack of visible moving parts, but it is a joy to look at and to listen to. Check out the Farm Collector Show Directory on the left side of this page in the Stoke Up section to plan your show itinerary.  You probably have noticed the lack of fresh engine videos on this blog; TBS is in serious need of new material.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

April e-Postal Results


This Is A Winner?

JimmyB, the Conservative UAW Guy has posted the results of the April contest, and the turnout was a bit disappointing; I blame the weather.  This is a tough target, with many of the circles on the edge of the paper, and we shot the circles on the left with one hand.  You can never hold a pistol still for a perfect shot as you would with a rifle from a rest, and my strategy (?) is to try and make the trigger break as the sights come onto the target.  On this, my best target, you can see that only 13 out of 20 shots hit the paper.  I marked all of my hits from the several targets I shot on one spot, and found that I was shooting a fairly well centered group that was 2 1/2" X 2 1/2" at just over 25 feet.

Mr. Completely shot the top score in the Rimfire Optical class, and you can study his target shooting technique in the upper GBR video on the left side of the page.

Danno is hosting the May Contest, and it will be fun for the whole family if you add the wafers Danno recommends to make the targets reactive.

Catchin' Up

This bit of news is from last week, but these great folks sure deserve to be recognized.  They are individually bagging 2000 seedlings for Arbor Day activities in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  After the trees were bagged, these volunteers delivered them to all the schools in Jefferson County.  SA-LUTE!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ski Illinois



We drove out of Illinois last Friday on I-64, and saw flood water in places we had never seen it before, and when we came back on Sunday evening, it was even higher. The big Wabash, Little Wabash, and Skillet Fork all go on for miles and miles. Load up your motorboat and bring your skis; the cornfields of Illinois await you.

(The song is 'Home Again Blues.'  Our little break seemed mighty brief.)

Dave Spaulding's Latest Tactical Tips; Courtesy of Ruger: Reloading Your AR



Ruger's notes from YouTube: "In this episode Spaulding shows you how "feed" your carbine in an efficient way.
Dave Spaulding, winner of the 2010 Trainer of the Year award by Law Officer Magazine, has returned for a second series of self-defense tips for shooters. In Ruger Tactical Carbine Tips, Spaulding focuses on the popular AR-style carbine to explain a host of techniques and help prepare shooters for an array of combat situations."