Apparently the oldest known Mariner’s Astrolabe has been found!

Known as da Gama’s or Sodré’s astrolabe, it was found in the wreck of the Esmerelda, HERE.

The 3D photography indicated it had scribe marks for measuring the height of the sun, allowing the sailors to calculate their latitude.

This simple instrument was much less complicated than the ones used on land, because of ship movement, and these predate sextants by about 300 years.

When I was a navigator in the 80s and early 90s, we still did cel or celestial navigation as a backup to the inertial navigation systems on the airplane. We were happy to be within 5-10 miles of the actual position due to bouncing around and the time it took to take multiple measurements 2 minutes apart on different stars or the sun.

HERE is a nice article from Air and Space on a pilot’s use of a similar bubble sextant. With the advent of accurate clocks, good charts, The Nautical Almanac, and the training to plug and chug though the various pages, calculations, declination, etc. You could actually get close enough to home to get a TACAN lock on, where the early mariners were happy to get ‘close’ to what latitude they were on. I cannot imagine how frustrating that must have been to the navigators on those ships!!!



This…this is simply amazing…

If nothing more than for its stupidity!

From The Blaze, HERE.

On Tuesday’s radio program, Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere discuss the top 16 most stressful scenarios reported by survey respondents:

1. Losing wallet or credit card

2. Arguing with partner

3. Commute or traffic delays

4. Losing phone

5. Arriving late to work

6. Slow WiFi

7. Phone battery dying

8. Forgetting passwords

9. Credit card fraud

10. Forgetting phone charger

11. Losing or misplacing keys

12. Paying bills

13. Job interviews

15. Credit card bills

16. Check engine light coming on

These idjits obviously don’t have a good grip on reality, or are still living in their momma’s basement!

My biggest worry back then was whether or not I was going to get shot at during my military flights!

Got a hint for them…

A course in reality ‘might’ change their ‘worries’ to something more realistic! Just sayin…

Fighting back…

The University of Wyoming rolled out a new slogan and video last year…

Apparently more than two dozen faculty complained, including professor Tracey Owens Patton said that, “What goes behind the term cowboy” is “erasure, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and genocide.” The university’s Committee on Women & People of Color wrote in a letter that the marketing campaign “risks casting UW as a place where only people who identify with white, male, and able-bodied connotations of ‘cowboy’ belong.”

Obviously those people have never actually READ anything about the real cowboys who settled the west. They came from all over the world, including a number of Hispanic, Black, British, and other ethnicities, as one of the last ‘frontiers’ in the 1800s and early 1900s… Sigh…

But, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously in July to keep the slogan. Students, alumni and sports fans apparently weren’t offended as revenues were up approximately $38,000 in the latter half of the year and at least 18,000 people clicked the link to get more information.

The Perpetually Offended Snowflakes apparently tried to beat the university into submission, but they Cowboy’d up, and stood by the decision, which does seem to reflect the HONEST opinions of the people of Wyoming, and the students attending the university.

h/t DaveP

Grey Man snippet…

Usual caveats and a specific question- Is there too much info dump and not enough story line?

Comments appreciated, and this one is probably going to get reworked, not really happy with the flow right now.


Ranger Michaels, Aaron, and the sheriff sat in the sheriff’s office, cups of coffee in hand as Levi glanced down at his notebook. “This is…I really don’t know how to describe it. Pathetic comes to mind.”

Jose asked, “The kid?”

“Yeah, Taequan No-Middle-Name Williams. Sixteen. No mother or father. Basically homeless since Katrina hit New Orleans. Never knew his father, mother dumped them on ‘Uncle’ Brent last name either Williams or Wilson. Uncle took them to Houston, hooked up with some female over there, and the three boys lived in one room in section eight housing. Apparently got kicked out in twenty fifteen, never put them back in school, and they basically lived on the street since. Last grade attended was seventh grade. Small time robbery, drug running. The Uncle went down for Meth last year, and Shaquan the oldest one, who was all of eighteen, upped their game to armed robbery, home invasions, and selling drugs they stole. Tareque, the middle boy, was the aggressive one, apparently multiple mental issues, always fighting and beating up Taequan and anybody else he could beat. Apparently smart enough to not take on the ones that would have given him an educational beat down.”

Aaron shook his head. “Damn, that is bad. Dumped at what, three years old? Doesn’t make what they did right, but I’ve gotta wonder how they survived.”

Levi flipped a page. “Not well, apparently. And they were aged three, four, and five. The mother popped them out in short order, apparently. Lots of dumpster diving until they started the armed robberies and home invasions. HPD has multiple warrants for all three of them, but apparently their homelessness actually kept the PD from catching them.”

Jose rocked back in his chair. “Any idea why they picked the gun store?”

“Apparently heard somebody at the truck stop talking about it. Figured out it was remote, and perfect for their MO. Taequan said they had filled up the car, but didn’t have enough money for anything but candy bars. They were going to hit the shop, then make a run for El Paso and dump the guns for enough to eat and more gas. Apparently Shaquan had cooked up a deal out west to run drugs for somebody.”

Aaron said bitterly, “And now Tom is dead, Shaquan, and what’s his name is dead, and Ed’s nursing a gunshot wound that almost killed him. All for what? Not a fucking thing.”

Jose replied, “Which is why you are not doing the investigation, and neither am I. This one is a little too close to home, and when Taequan goes to trial for murder, I want to make damn sure there isn’t a reason in the world for the defense to move for a mistrial or anything else because of us, or anything we did or didn’t do.”

Levi nodded. “And I almost ended up not being the investigating officer because I know y’all, but the Major said do it. Is there any word on when Tom’s funeral will be and where?”

“Tuesday, he’ll be buried in the family plot on the ranch. We found a… well, Billy found a sister in El Paso in a nursing home, and she said she would be happy to have him buried here. Apparently she is the only surviving relative, and she’s in her late sixties. Billy is going to take the airplane and go get her Monday afternoon and bring her back.”

“Ouch. No other surviving family?”

The sheriff replied, “None. I went down and inventoried his room that he rented in town with LT Alvarez. Neat as a pin, not much there, but we did find a suppressed thirty-eight revolver, and a suppressed High Standard twenty-two.”

Levi chuckled, “Really? A suppressed revolver, that’s about as useless as—”

Jose interrupted. “No, this was a real one, an S&W Model Ten that actually has a modified forcing cone to close the cylinder gap as much as possible, and the loads in it were light. Maybe half the powder. Apparently both were Vietnam bring backs. Seems Tom was an Army tunnel rat at Cu Chi from sixty-six to sixty-seven, according to some paperwork we found. He was also a disabled vet, bad PTSD from that experience in ‘Nam. Landlady said he always slept with the light on. He was also apparently supporting his sister in the nursing home.”

“That might explain why he became a cowboy, always outside in the sunshine and open spaces,” Aaron said thoughtfully.

“Possibly, no…probably. He spent over twenty years as a working cowboy, from the JA up in the Panhandle to Borrego’s over in New Mexico. He had a saddle and bridle in his little storage area, along with a riata and a set of horns from a longhorn. The sister said he visited her about once a month or so, and she said her parents had died in a car wreck in sixty-seven, when she was eighteen. She got married, went on to teach school up in Colorado, and retired to some place north of El Paso, some retirement community with her husband. He passed three or four years ago, I think she said.”

Levi asked, “What did you do with the two pistols?”

“John has them. They were actually registered correctly under NFA, and John immediately knew what they were. He’s already got suppressed weapons, and since he’s still a special deputy, I figured he’d be the best one to hold them for now.”

Aaron mumbled, “Why am I not surprised he knew what they were.”

The sheriff laughed. “Probably because he might have used one in Vietnam. John was one scary individual thirty years ago.”

“Was? Shit. That man is a stone cold killer. Matt and I have talked about it, John won’t really go into what he did in ‘Nam other than generalities, won’t really talk about his time with the DEA either, but we’re both pretty sure there are more than a few graveyards in his past. Hell, in his seventies, he still outshoots us, and we’re both trained snipers!”

The sheriff just nodded as Levi looked thoughtfully at Aaron. “You and Matt are both Marine snipers?”

“Yep. Three tours for me, four for Matt. He and I were a team in Fallujah.”

“Damn. I didn’t know that.”

Aaron shrugged. “Not something either of us broadcast. Sheriff here knows. Major Wilson knows. Michelle knows. I figured you’d been told.”

“Nah. Back on the subject, when is Williams’ magistration?”

“Tomorrow morning. Judge Cotton at ten.”

“Huh, the district judge?”

“He’s the available judge. It’s his turn on the wheel.”

“And he’ll probably be the trial judge too. This could be interesting.” Levi got up. “I’m heading for the house. I need to sleep in my own bed for a change.”

Aaron and the sheriff both got up, and the sheriff said, “Thanks for doing the investigation, Levi. See you tomorrow.”


Judge Cotton banged his gavel. “Taequan No-Middle-Name Williams, you are charged with murder in the death of Thomas Edward Kline. There are sworn statements and video of the event. I find these to be probable cause for you to be remanded to custody pending your arraignment. Do you have an attorney or would you like one appointed for you?”

Taequan looked up at the judge, “Judge, I didn’t kill anybody! I dun tol the man wit the badge everthing. And I answered his questions too!”

“Son, that is immaterial. Do you want an attorney appointed for you?”

“Yes, sir. I ax for an attorney, please.”

“Okay, a public defender will be appointed to defend you. You have the right to remain silent. Were you given your Miranda Rights?”

“Yes, sir. But I answered his questions.”

Judge Cotton held up a hand, “Alright, I’m going to give them to you again, but I’m sure your public defender will want you to stop that. Due to the evidence already present, I do not find a requirement for an examining trial, and due to the nature of the offense you’re charged with, I will not set a bond at this time. Do you understand?”

Taequan bowed his head, “Yes, sir. I’ze going back to jail, ain’t I.”

“I’m afraid so, son.” He banged the gavel and said, “Sheriff, Ranger, my office, please.” He got up and headed for chambers, leaving the door open for them.

Once they were seated and the judge had a cigar going, he looked at Levi, “How bad is it, Ranger?”

“Open and shut, Judge.” Levi shook his head, “All caught on video, and the only reason he’s not dead is he dropped his gun when the first round was fired, dropped to the floor, and proned out. Jesse was already drawing down on him as the closest threat. Shaquan was the ringleader/planner, and he’s the one that got Tom Kline, but Tom also took him out. Tom drew and fired in under half a second with that old Single Action and nailed Shaquan dead center. Sadly Shaquan already had his pistol trained on Tom and he shot first by less than a tenth of a second.”

The judge shook his head and grumbled, “So probably the first thing the PD is going to go for is a change of venue.”

The sheriff replied, “Where? El Paso?”

“If he’s smart, El Paso. Try to get lost in the system over there. Cut the kid’s hair, clean him up, make him look like a kid, influenced by older siblings, learning disabled, and, and…”

Levi shook his head, “I don’t think they’ll buy it. Not when that video gets shown. I’m betting the public defender will try to get it thrown out as prejudicial.”

“Yep. You can bet on that. When is the funeral?”

“Tomorrow, two o’clock at the Cowboy Church, with burial in the family plot on John’s place.”

“I won’t attend, since I’m going to be hearing this case, and a smart PD would force me to recuse myself if I did that. Please pass along my condolences.”

“Will do, Judge.”

“Alright, you two get out of here. I got work to do.”


Anita Lawrence sat at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee with Ed and Joe, as Billy and the old man came in. She looked at the flag laying on the table then up at them and said, “Thank you. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for Tommy. That was a beautiful funeral, and very touching.” She gestured at the flag. “And that was special. Please thank the men that did the military funeral.” She took a sip of coffee and continued, “I don’t think you knew how much y’all meant to him.”

The old man poured two cups of coffee and handed one to Billy, “Toad is the one to thank for the military funeral. He knew Tom and is a member of that post. What do you mean, what we meant to him?”

“I haven’t…hadn’t seen him happier in a long time. He said working for your daughter was keeping the demons at bay.”

“Actually, she’s my granddaughter, Anita. Tom never really told us much about his background other than that he’d been a cowboy. I was surprised to find out that he’d been a tunnel rat in ‘Nam.”

“He didn’t like to talk about it. The only thing Tommy ever really told me was that he hated the dark. I remember coming home and he’d had every light in the house on all night long. I thought…well…I guess I thought he was a little crazy. I guess that was the PTSD, even if they didn’t call it that back then. You were both there too, correct?”

Billy nodded. “We did something different, but yes, we were there.”

The old man said, “I’ve got two pistols that belonged to Tom, I need to get them to—”

She interrupted, “I don’t want them. I’ve got my little thirty-eight and I know they were special to him. I’d rather you have them.”

“I can sell them and forward the money to you, they’re both rather unusual—”

“No, you keep them. Tommy brought them back with him, and y’all helped him, so you deserve to have them. But I would like to have his saddle. That’s my real memory of him, smiling from the, as he called it, hurricane deck of the bronc.”

Billy said, “I hate to bring it up, but didn’t Tom…Tommy send you money every month?”

Anita chuckled sadly. “He did. He was always worried about me not having enough to live on. That went back to the bad old days after our parents died. He couldn’t get it through his thick head that my Tom was an engineer and we had invested our money well. When Tom died, I sold the house and moved into the assisted living facility with enough money to last at least twenty years. Every time Tommy sent me money, I invested it, thinking one day he would need it. He never really cared about much more than a roof over his head and a full belly. Now…” A tear coursed slowly down her cheek and she dabbed it away with a napkin. “Now I…don’t know what to do with it.”

Billy said gently, “Anita, we need to go if you want to get home tonight. I’m more than happy to talk to you about your options on that money.

She set the coffee cup down and got up slowly, “Thank you all. You made Tommy happy, I couldn’t ask for more.” She picked up the flag then hugged everyone before walking slowly to the front door, escorted by the old man and Billy.


A week later, Taequan Williams, with a young public defender from Alpine, was back in front of Judge Cotton for arraignment on the charges. Matt Quinn, the Assistant District Attorney, stood up. “Judge we are ready to present the county’s case.”


“Taequan No-Middle-Name Williams, hereafter named defendant, in the county of Pecos, in the state of Texas did commit a felony to-wit: murder in the first degree against Thomas Edward Klein on Thursday the fourteenth, at one oh seven in the afternoon, at The Ranch Gun Shop located at twenty-one forty-three Highway Eighteen. Defendant was one of three gunmen that entered said premises with the intent to rob said premises and in the process Thomas Edward Klein was killed by one Shaquan No-Middle-Name Williams.”

Judge Cotton peered over his glasses, “Taequan No-Middle-Name Williams, how do you plead?”

Taequan huddled with his public defender, and finally said, “I pleads not guilty. I—”

The young public defender put his hand on Taequan’s arm and whispered urgently to him, causing him to shut his mouth and stand silent.

The judge replied, “Due to the nature of the charges, defendant will be remanded to custody without bail, pending a trial to occur in this district court.” He started to rap his gavel when the public defender stood up, “Yes?”

“Judge, I move that there be a change of venue.”

“Son, it’s a little early in the process for that.”

Determined, the public defender said, “There is no way my client will get a fair trial here. I move for a change of venue immediately.”

“I heard you the first time, son. Put it in writing as a motion.” Judge Cotton rapped his gavel and got up as the baliff told everyone to rise.

The sheriff, Aaron, and Ranger Michaels walked out of the courtroom and stood on the sidewalk by the parking lot. The sheriff said, “Well, step one is done.”

Aaron fiddled with his sock as he thought for a second. “But sounds like this PD is going to press for a change of venue from the git-go. Where would they move the trial?”

Levi replied, “Probably El Paso. I’m guessing they are hoping to get lost in the system and get a jury that won’t know anything about it. That PD is young, but he seems pretty sharp. I’m betting his going to move to disallow the video too.”

The sheriff laughed. “Oh no, Quinn will fight that tooth and nail. That’s a slam dunk.”

Aaron asked, “Would Quinn still prosecute it?”

“Sure. We did the indictment, so we’d prosecute it, regardless of where it goes. The pain in the ass will be for the witnesses. Hotel and all the crap that goes with that.”

“Who pays for that?”

“The county, probably. I know they will for the officers that get called as witnesses.”

Levi replied, “Most of the time they schedule it pretty well. The most they would end up with is maybe one night in a hotel. Depending on the timing, they might not even need a hotel. Drive over, testify, and drive home.”

The sheriff waggled his hand, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t know if Judge Cotton will go for a change of venue or not, and that won’t play out anytime soon.” He turned toward the car, “C’mon Aaron, there’s work to be done. Levi, thanks for coming up.”

Levi gave a sketchy salute, “You’re welcome, Sheriff. We shall see what we shall see.”


Happy St. Paddy’s Day…

If you celebrate it…

If not, well, that’s an extra beer for somebody…

And I’m thinking they’re minus one Leprechaun! Didn’t pay his ‘taxes’ maybe???

Either that or he’s staggering around trying to put out his hair… 🙂

Over the top???

Probably, but I’d still waste a golf ball or two on that hole…

I’ve played Ko’olau in Hawaii, and the course record was 63 at the time (lost balls that is)…

This is one of the ‘interesting’ holes… What you don’t see, is that just over the ridge, there is jungle… until you get to the green!

Sigh… Is it spring YET???


It’s been a lousy week weather wise, news wise, etc…

So… a little humor for your Friday!

Bloopers from Young Frankenstein…

And some ‘simple’ explanations of ‘isms’…

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbor.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.

The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.

The public then buys your bull.

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds.
You still only have two cows.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

You have two cows
But you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have 5000 cows.
None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them, you claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the shit out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least you are now a Democracy.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

You have two cows.
They are unhappy and would rather live in Australia.


One of my oak trees in the front yard STILL has four leaves on it…

And this is after 24 hours of up to 50+kts of wind! I’m impressed! Those suckers just WILL NOT fall!

And we ‘think’ this is New Mexico blowing by…

West Texas came through an hour or so ago, and we thought we smelled oil, e.g. the Permian Basin. Thankfully, it’s stopped raining (for now). The bar ditches are full, and the water was lapping the outside lanes of the highway this morning. And to make things even MORE interesting, one, and only one side, of the crossing bars were down. Made for an interesting ‘dance’ getting over the railroad tracks, with people actually taking turns! Gotta love country drivers, they know courteous!


Updating software/firmware is enough of a PITA to make one want to skip it, and THAT assumes the basic program updates itself automatically…

What truly sucks is when the software doesn’t update, and will connect to the hardware, but won’t find the required firmware updates after you’ve screwed with it for 20 minutes…


You have to try to upgrade the software, which, as it turns out, doesn’t upgrade if it is more than one generation out of date. Which means you have to uninstall it… And that’s a 20 minute drill.

You go find the update and reload the software… another 15-20 minutes down the drain. You plug the hardware in and the software doesn’t recognize it… And find out you need a @#@%# driver update. Another half your while Windoze searches and searches.

And it FINALLY installs, only to tell you it won’t work unless you do a total reboot of the system. Another 5 minutes.

So you reboot, and it takes another 10 minutes to actually update the driver! Now it’s start the software again, wait for it to realize there is a new driver, connect the hardware and… It finally connects.

And five minutes later is done… Sigh.

And the muse is gibbering in the corner. Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually get some writing done.

Rut Roh…

Weather is hitting us hard. Rain/thunder/lighting…

Intermittent power surges, so no post this morning. Go read the folks on the sidebar.

And this is Obi this morning…