What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekly roundup

Well, another week has gone by. Last few days have been fairly decent, weather-wise. Nice to see the sun again, after weeks of pretty much non-stop rain!

A friend posted this to Facebook the other day.

There have been some fun things done this week, but first, let's address the elephant in the room: The Supreme Court has issued several rulings. Two of them have been getting a lot of play on the news and social media. 

The first involved the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare". The immediate issue concerned the federal "Healthcare Marketplace". The ACA, as written, passed by Congress, and signed into law, stipulated that individuals without insurance needed to sign up for subsidized healthcare via "Marketplaces" set up and run by the individual states. However, many of the states refused to set up Marketplaces. 

The Federal Government was horrified by this. The ponzi scheme financing of Obamacare required that a majority of citizens to either sign up for insurance or to pay massive fines, to provide the funding for those that couldn't afford unsubsidized insurance.

So, to bring in the required number of "insured" from the non-compliant states, the Federal Marketplace was set up. To begin with, it was a joke. There were huge problems with their software that allowed hackers easy access to very personal information. Fingers were pointed, lower-level people were fired, higher-level people were vilified. Eventually, they managed to get most of the bugs out of the system.

However, this was NOT what the ACA allowed for. The ACA only allowed for the state-run Marketplaces, not a Federal one. The Federal Marketplace was completely outside the scope of the ACA, and of course, lawsuits were filed thick and fast.

The issue finally reached the Supreme Court, and in a stunning blow to the Constitution, they ruled that the Federal Marketplace was legitimate and would be allowed to stand. The bottom line is that the ruling allows the White House to circumvent Congress and rewrite any law that it sees fit, in any way that it sees fit. This was a major step away from representational government and a major step towards tyrannical dictatorship, and all of it by the blessing of the Supremes. This is a very dangerous precedent!

Overshadowing the Obamacare ruling was another ruling a couple of days later, that effectively banned states from enforcing laws against same-sex marriage. Honestly, I saw this one coming a long time ago. 

The majority of the states allow same-sex marriage. The US Constitution requires that the individual states recognize licenses and other things issued by other states. That is why my Missouri Driver's License is valid in all fifty states, for example. And why the marriage license that the Debster and I have, although issued in and solemnized in Missouri, was valid when we lived in Illinois. So this ruling did not come as a major surprise to me. The minority of states that maintained bans against same-sex marriage would have eventually been forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. So, it made little sense to keep their bans in place.

One problem, in my opinion, is that once again the Federal Government is dictating to the States what they can and cannot do. This is a violation of the Tenth Amendment, if nothing else. But, it has the blessing of the Supreme Court, and that, as they say, is that.

There is a bright side to this, however. Allen West wrote THIS ARTICLE concerning possible side effects and unintended consequences to this ruling.

The other problem is the moral problem. From my position as a Bible-believing Christian, that is the biggest problem. One that needs to be addressed separately. So stay tuned, my friends!

I want to publicly thank God for the care He took with my dear friend Mary P. Mary's van caught fire the other day, and burned down to a pile of slag. Thanks to some kind and brave strangers, she was extricated from the burning vehicle completely unharmed. God is good!

We had another death in the family this week. Our last remaining cat, Bull, died this past Tuesday. He was just shy of his 14th birthday. This is a photo of him from a few years ago, with his sister Cow, who died in November of 2013.

Now, on to the fun stuff! The Debster and I were blessed to be able to spend today (Sunday), with my grand-nephew Tyler, who just turned seven. 

First, we went to breakfast at Steak-N-Shake. I had the country skillet breakfast, and was only able to eat about half of it. The rest is in the fridge for my breakfast tomorrow. Tyler and the Debster had chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Looked awesome, even though I am not a fan of whipped cream.

Then, we went to Lone Elk State Park, and drove through looking at the critters. We only saw one deer, and didn't see any bison at all, unfortunately. But we did come across a large herd of elk!

What a cute calf!

Look at the rack on that bull elk!

From there, we went on to West Tyson County Park. Although Lone Elk is a rather major tourist attraction, the nearby West Tyson park is virtually unknown, tucked away in the hills off the highway outer road. Doesn't even have a marker sign on the highway. But in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful parks in all of the Saint Louis County Park System.

There, I finally managed to get some "dirt time", as my bushcrafting friends call it. Nothing special, but I did get to play with my new Mora knife and Kobalt hand ax. I made a pile of shavings and batoned (split with my knife) a few  branches, and gathered a large bundle of twigs. Built a fire, roasted hot dogs and made s'mores. We all had a blast. Even if it did try to rain on us a couple of times, and the wood was all damp making the fire difficult to get started.

Kobalt hand ax, Mora Classic #3, Buck folding knife

Used the Mora to baton some small branches down to kindling

Spine of the Mora used to scrape dry dust off of inner bark for tinder

Bark, bark dust, shavings, some kindling

Tyler and I roasting hot dogs. Wow. Look at that gut I have. I have GOT to do something about that!

Tyler with his first fire-roasted hot dog

You can see the moisture boiling out the ends of the fuel.

Gidget relaxing next to the Debster while Tyler and I played with fire.
Well, that's enough for this week. Stay tuned, folks!

God bless you all!

Ron and the Debster

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekly round-up

I know, it has been a few weeks since I have posted, but I really need to post more often. There is almost always SOMETHING going on that I could write about. So, if nothing else, I'm going to try to post at least a weekly update of what happened during the week.

So, although this is a "weekly" update, this first time out will be actually a monthly update.

Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, we lost out dog Stempy to cancer back in early May. Daisy, the youngest of our dogs, took his loss very hard. Her playmate suddenly disappeared, and she searched and searched and cried and cried, and then just moped around. Poor thing! We felt so sorry for her, because we were going through the same thing.

Pam to the rescue! My eldest niece called me out of the clear blue towards the end of May. She had this little itty bitty pupy that needed a home, and thought of us. She brought her by the house, and we fell in love with her.

"Gidget" joined our family on May 25. She was only about 7 weeks old; she was born March 31. Weighed maybe 8 ounces or so. Part fox terrier, part chihuahua, part who-knows-what-else. Mostly white, with black head and ears and a couple of black spots on her back. And BIG ears standing straight up. Fox terrier heritage, I believe, showing up there. And so tiny!

Gidget with the Debster, the day after she joined us

We had hoped that an energetic puppy would rejuvenate Daisy, but for the first few days, it was a little touchy. Neither Daisy nor Chelsea wanted anything to do with this little thing, and our cat just stared at her with a "WTH?" expression.

Well, eventually Daisy warmed up to her, and they have become pretty tight. Daisy is back to her playful self again.

Here is a YouTube video of Daisy and Gidget playing in our back yard last week. 
(Sorry, I haven't figured out how to insert a thumbnail image.)

Our garden has gone insane!

We have been harvesting Romaine lettuce, spinach, green onions, and herbs for several weeks already. Just as well, because with all the rain we've gotten the last couple weeks, the tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini plants have completely overtaken everything else. I'm trying to keep them tied up, but they have still completely smothered the remaining lettuce and onions, and are threatening the pepper plant, spinach, and the herbs.

I harvested one large cucumber earlier this week, and several more will be ready soon, as will some of the zucchini. The tomatoes are loaded down with smallish green fruit, so we should be able to start harvesting them in a week or two.

Well, if nothing else, I have learned some valuable lessons about planning the layout of the garden that I can apply next year when I expand to two full size 4'x8' beds. The tomatoes and squash-type plants will each be completely enclosed in separate cages about 20" in diameter, and the smaller plants will be kept farther away from them. And I think the herbs will be in individual containers rather than the main beds. Live and learn!

Haven't done much at all lately with genealogy. Too many other things have kept my interest. My interest in prepping has led me to re-discover my love of the outdoors, especially bushcraft and survivalism. My personal health issues and physical limitations will limit the extent of what I will be able to actually do. Long backpacking trips are out of the question, at least for the foreseeable future, for example. 

But I can still do some things. Day-trips are always possible, and camping for extended periods as long as I camp near the car and stay reasonably close to the camp and don't try to do too much at once. 

As the weather gets hotter and muggier, I probably won't be doing much. So for now I will concentrate on collecting and maintaining a decent collection of gear, and practicing various skills that I can do mostly at home. Then, when cooler weather returns, I'll be out and about a lot!

This is a Morakniv Mora Classic #3 sheath knife, and a copy of Dave Canterbury's first book. They were very early birthday gifts from the Debster! Gotta love that gal o' mine! She has little interest in the type of camping and outdoors activities that I prefer, but she is very supportive of me anyway. I really don't deserve this wonderful woman. But God has seen fit to put us together, and so I must be the best man I can be, for her if for no other reason.

Well, that's enough for now. We'll talk again soon.

God bless you all!
Ron, and the Debster