Saturday, January 26, 2013

Calking Off

Things I like to do on the weekend:

I don't always get to do what I want to do, but I thought that a list would be a useful frame of reference. These are not particularly listed in any order of precedence:

Shooting Innocent Birds

The Browning Broadway Lightning (12 ga) - below -  is considered a trap gun but I find that it's a very good skeet gun as well. Super serious competitors have a number of gun options but I find that this one does all of it well. My favorite bird to shoot is the Chukar Partridge. The Chukar is difficult to hunt because it's a wary bird, but it's a good eating game fowl. There are a lot of quail in Arizona and California to hunt but you need to kill a lot of them to feed a family and something about shooting a quail makes me feel a little guilty.

I enjoy shooting skeet and trap. I'm not the world's greatest at either, but I've busted my share of clay pigeons. It's all about muscle memory and coordination. Timing is also important. To that extent, it's not unlike the activity below. The increasing cost of reloading components is making trips to the range less frequent. 

You know...


I have to preface this because I haven't been diving for quite a while. I snorkel on vacation a lot and 0-30 feet is a comfortable snorkel range. As I get older, I appreciate warmer water. Living in Southern California, the water is nowhere near tropical. The photo (right) was taken a long time ago. In the photo, I'm next to the USS Cavalla, now decommissioned, in the Sea of Cortez. 

Last week I checked my compressed air cylinders, stored in my garage, and found that they are out of "hydro", which means that I need to take them in and get them pressure tested before I can get them filled again. They still have a full fill on them (I use Steel 105 cubic inch cylinders), but the next time they are filled, it's a hassle.


Though it may seem odd to you who read this blog, I enjoy things that require an exercise in imagination. I used to blow hot glass until the studio closed (economy crashed). I find that the first casualty of a bad economy is art. Artists can't sell what they create because people are busy rearranging their priorities toward food and shelter. It's too bad really because art tends to define the human condition much more succinctly than literature in my opinion. 

My present art of choice is the written word and the next in the novella series, THE BLACK SCORPIONS is being crafted somewhat this weekend. I've been working on a particularly challenging segment and I'm not sure that I got it right. The problem with art is that it's all in the eye of the beholder.  And when you write a book, there is no way to objectively know whether or not it will be well received because there is so much individual subjectivity involved in the enjoyment.

My research is exhaustive. The activity for yesterday was, "how do you introduce poison into a residential water supply in the US - and how does that differ from systems in other parts of the world." I had to find experts to provide the advice that led to the segment that you're going to read about in this coming tome.


In the Navy, they call it 'calking off'. The weekend is designed for this sort of concentrated effort. To calk a wooden sailing ship, workers in the ship yards had to lay on their backs to work calking between the timbers that constituted the hull of the vessel. More than one drifted off to sleep while engaged in this effort - thus: Calking Off.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Survival in the Canadian Wilderness

The testimonial goes to show that you don't need a large caliber handgun to save yourself if you're lost in the Canadian wilderness.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Desert Run

The world is not a perfect place. Because it's not, perishable skills need to be renewed. Southern California is a place where the Mojave Desert meets the ocean. 

There is only green grass because water is pumped in from the Colorado River and from Northern California. Thus, it's not a long drive from that beach environment, teeming with people, to places such as that shown (above and below), where you can go and be unmolested while you train. The dry lakebed (above) is located between Barstow and Baker, CA -- some distance to the south of both of those cities.

My youngest daughter wanted to get some trigger time by going in the Mojave Desert so we drove out to hone some of her skill sets. Pictured - E. L. shooting a Glock Model 21 (modified). 

There are two sorts of people in the world: trained an untrained. Meeting threats requires that you engage different targets at different ranges. In this case, from ten meters to twenty-five meters. Each target had a "same threat level" criteria, however both speed and accuracy was stressed with focus on shifting targets for double-tap and re-engage. You will also notice that there is a "gingerbread man" Christmas yard "ornament of sorts" in the foreground. High expansion .45 ACP +P+ rounds left .07 inch holes in the plywood (most satisfying).

In a complicated world. Preparation removes doubt and concern.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Random Acts of Mischief

My oldest daughter is teaching her sons to undertake random acts of kindness. While I applaud that behavior and even did it when I was raising children, there is another way to engage the world.

Some aging males are forced to exact a measure of justice on the societies that spawned them and that they were forced to live with for a very long time. Call it a reaction to political correctness combined with way too much time on your hands.

This is a short list and it's not completely original with me, though I must confess that I have tried some of them and the ones that I tried, worked. My victims shopped in Walmart, but Target works too.

(1) Take boxes of condoms from the shelves and randomly distribute them into people's shopping carts when they're not looking.

(2) Set the alarm clocks plugged in for demonstration purposes in the Housewares Department to go off in sequence.

(3) Make a trail of tomato juice leading from the sales floor into the women's restroom.

(4) Put on Halloween masks and wear them around the store while you're shopping (seasonal). I prefer the zombie Obama masks but that's a personal choice.

(5) Select the women who "dress up to go to Walmart" and push your cart around behind them. Don't say a word. When accosted for stalking, smile and offer them something from your shopping cart by way of an apology.

(6) You can only do this once per store -- go into a fitting room and then yell out, "Hey, there's no toilet paper in here!"

(7) Buy half a dozen hamburgers in Walmart (in-store McDonalds) and take a monster bite out of each one and leave them strategically throughout the store. This doesn't work in some Walmarts because other customers simply finish them before your actions annoy the store staff.

(8) Superglue or epoxy quarters and Susan B. Anthony dollars (only available at the Post office) to the floor of seldom trod aisles. Three or four dollars will provide hours of amusement. In Walmarts near the US/Mexico Border, 10 peso coins work equally as well and I usually have dozens of 'brown coins' when I return home from 'down south' where I work.

Monday, January 14, 2013

0-60 in >4 seconds

Ok, boys and girls, it may be time to declare a mid-life crisis.

2014 Corvette -- $49K? If GM can pull off that price point, there will be a lot of these bad boys on the road.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray will be powered by a 450-hp 5.5-liter V-8, and should give 30-plus mpg on the highway. What more can I say than Sammy Hagar has said in the past?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Should buying a LIGHTBULB be a Legacy Purchase?


I have just returned from Home Depot where I bought two Ecosmart LED overhead flood lights. I went with LED in the hopes that they'd work out better than the florescent lights inside the floodlight case that simply don't put out enough light to allow you to read a book.

After installing the light, I found that it put out just about the same dim light that the florescent light did. So I've been taken for a ride. Let me share the love that I feel for Ecosmart, the Green Movement, for a light that requires a lot of manufacturing energy (which sort of defeats the movement to reduce energy) to create, etc.

In today's enlightened postmodern world, you have two choices. Piss-poor florescent or light emitting diode (LED). Incandescent lights are illegal in America thanks to crusaders and heroic green advocates like former Vice President Al Gore - alleged creator of the Internet and sell out to Al Jazeera. There are no more incandescent lights that are bright and inexpensive. Our children will grow to adulthood thinking that a light just can't be THAT bright. Maybe they'll believe that their forefathers had better night vision? Who knows what tales they will tell?


The price tag for these LED Floods (I picked the less expensive) runs from $29.97 each to $54.95 each. I know that you're saying. A flood light and it's only $54.95 for each light. What a bargain! That's not what I said, but what I said isn't printable. Two lights = $59.94 + $4.80 (California Sales Tax) = $64.74


For those of you who haven't felt the fickle finger of fate buying this Chinese made crap, the sales pitch is that while each light is horribly expensive, it will last 23 years. I can suggest two absolute truths in this regard. (a) There is an almost 100% chance that I will be dead in 23 years; (b) There is a solid 100% chance that I won't be living in this house in 23 years. Best case scenario, I will be eating soft food, sitting on a bench and feeding pigeons all day. Worst case, worms will be feeding on me all day.


Maybe the Chinese are thinking that these are legacy purchases where the lightbulbs will be handed down father to son to grandson to great-grandson. However, I harken back to the day when I could buy a frigging incandescent light that put out more light (lumens) and cost under $5.00 each. I know that it's not very progressive of me to think in terms of incandescent lights - which can't be sold anymore.
US Government legislation has mandated that light bulbs must be 30% more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs by 2014, and by 2020, all bulbs must be at least 70% more efficient. My feelings toward this green move are not printable other than to suggest that the people behind this could care less about the people who are governed by their legislation.
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. - Robert Heinlein (Author)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Now or then?

I often tell people that I was either born 150 years too early or 150 years too late. I can't address the 150 years too early part of it. Who knows but we'll blow ourselves up 149 years from now or a comet strike will rip the atmosphere off of the planet?

However there are things that are better about today than 150 years ago, and with a glass full rather than a glass empty philosophy, I'll explain:

2012 vs 1863
  • Bandwidth. Yes, the Internet sucks, but let's face it, if you're reading this, you are addicted too.
  • Automobiles. I like my BMW. I also like a horse. But the care and feeding of a horse can be a pain in bad weather or if you're in a hurry.
  • Dental Hygiene. I like electric plaque elimination systems (they don't call them toothbrushes anymore do they?) and dental floss. In 1863 unless you pulled your teeth or had them pulled, they'd rot and kill you. Today, worst case there is dental bonding.
  • Air Travel. When I travel by air, I travel first class, not because I'm an elitist jerk -- I simply prefer to have my ass kissed than to not have it kissed. In 1863, it took a long time to go anywhere. Today, it's the matter of buying a ticket and booking a hotel and rental car on line, having an airport limo pick me up at home and drop me off at the airport. The biggest concern is whether I have enough downloaded books on my Kindle to take me through the flight if I'm bored or or have already seen all of the twenty or so movies offered in First Class.
  • Cell Phones. I hate them - I love them - I hate them - I love them. 
  • Climate Control. Forced air A/C and heating on on demand. I also prefer long hot showers where I don't have to make a fire to enjoy the warm water.
  • Electric lights at the flip of a switch.
  • E-Mail. Better than snail mail, or the pony express.
  • Without prejudice to the Little Red Hen, the idea of sewing, watering, harvesting wheat, then milling it, baking it cutting it and then serving it, I can either drive-through or go to the store to get sandwich fixings. Little Red Hen Process - 3-5 months. My process 5 minutes. And I can have chicken on my sandwich - oops, sorry hen.
  • Firearms. While all of you know that I'm disarmed and helpless, many people do have more advanced firearms firing fixed ammunition which are an improvement on cap and ball available in 1863.
  • Clothing. Levis are Levis 1863 or 2013. Some things can't be improved on.
  • Sex. I think that it was more or less the same in 1863 as it is in 2013. Some like it hot, some don't. (There are a lot of STD's out there in 2013 that hadn't percolated out of the jungle in 1983)
  • Music. You had to listen to it live back then. Now there is i-pad, i-pod, i-phone, i-whatever and noise canceling headphones. The music available in 1863 was limited. I prefer the options and delivery devices in 2013.
There are things about 1863 that appeal to me - but I don't think that I'd want to serve in either side during the War of Northern Aggression/War of the Rebellion/Civil War. More people died of camp illness than died of wounds inflicted by the enemy. I'm not opposed to camping. In fact, I camped for a living (US Military) for a while. However, the fun in camping reaches its limits at some points.

If I had lived in 1863, I think that I would have been the Sundance Kid. I'm better looking than Robert Redford, I'm sure that I could shoot better than the character that he portrayed because I'd also have a scoped rifle (available in 1863), I'd have had the sense NOT to go to Bolivia - and Katherine Ross (who played Etta Place in the Hollywood Production of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) appeals to me. Or in the absence of Katherine Ross, I could have contented myself spending my ill gotten loot on a remote tropical island -- one without cannibals living on it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I bought a chess set for my three year old grandson for Christmas. He's three, but a very bright three.  My daughter recently had his reading tested and he reads at a second-grade level. We played chess today as long as his attention span could manage it. He understands the general concept of the game (movement of pieces and the need to control the center of the board) but not the subtle concepts and metaphors of the game. 
  • Sacrificing one piece for the greater good is sometimes important. Sometimes it's not.
"In the end we may have to choose between actions that might pull down the temple of humanity itself rather than surrender even a single member of the family to the executioner." - Yerucham Amitai
  • Power perceived is power achieved. Power is achieved by relative position and the ability of one piece to exercise power.
The further ahead you see and understand the threats in a given position (or posible position), the better you will be at playing chess.
  • Looking before you leap will keep you from grief.
Having more balls than brains is a good thing at times. (If you exercised your brains, you wouldn't go near a battlefield) But in chess, brains trumps brawn. 
  • You can play a game of chess if you loose your queen early in the game, but it's a lot easier to win if she's on the board. The queen is important to success in the game.
But being three, he decided that he'd rather play with the remote control car that he also received for Christmas. When I bought it, the car was packaged. Today I got to see what it would do.

Sometimes it's good to play chess. Other times, the remote control car is more fun. When you're only three years old, it all works. He turns four at the end of this month. (I blocked the roadway with "child at play" barriers so that he could play with the car.) There wasn't any traffic on this residential street while we drove the car.

The Denny's Syndrome

Since 2009 and the US entered the financial death spiral that we've all been experiencing Denny's has been spiraling faster than most.  The food is not appetizing, the wait staff are temperamental at best, and the portions have been getting smaller while the prices stayed the same. Everyone has a choice, and unfortunately Denny's is becoming less and less of a choice. I know people who refer to Denny's as "choke and puke". (pardon the graphic description)

On New Year's Day 2013, five Belleville, Illinois Police Department detectives were minding their own business, eating at Denny's. They were armed as proscribed by law and Police Department General Orders. A patron saw that one of the detectives had a handgun and complained to the manager. The manager asked the officers  to take their firearms outside or leave. (Fox News)  The detectives initially thought it was a joke, Captain Sax said later, noting that all of the officers had displayed their badges and several police radios were on the table. “At this point the detectives were very embarrassed and felt the situation was entirely too awkward for them to remain and all left the restaurant.” 
Capt. Don Sax said in a statement to Fox News. “Until further notice all on duty Belleville Police officers are banned from Denny’s Restaurant unless responding to an official call for service.”
The manager stood their ground and the officers said that they'd leave. A general manager for that Denny's said that the manager misunderstood company policy.

I find this strange since many restaurants LURE police officers to the premises with the offer of half-price food as the cheapest security available to any business. Having police cars and armed detectives inside the restaurant means that patrons and employees -- especially in the Illinois urban hell -- are safe. Not Denny's. No worries. The police won't go there. NOTE TO ROBBERS and MUGGERS: Victims at Denny's are unarmed and unprotected.


John Metz's RREMC Restaurants owns more than 30 Denny's locations in Florida. In November 2012, he announced that he was raising prices by 5% because of the cost of ObamaCare that the government is imposing. He's doing what all businesses have to do, he's passing it on. What makes Metz's franchised Denny's different is that he put it on the menu.
“If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare. Although it may sound terrible that I’m doing this, it’s the only alternative. I’ve got to pass the cost on to the consumer.”
The Democratic Party was outraged that Metz would put into practice what everyone else in the country was doing without advertising it.

In addition to dishing out unappetizing (choke and puke) food, Denny's has managed to alienate the police (thus Conservatives who will take note of the policy) and Democrats who feel that they were 'outed' on the new ObamaCare tax that they slapped onto everyone in America with the exception of Congress, which exempted its members.

When people at Denny's are screaming for help from the police, I'm sure that the police will respond as they are able - once that doughnut is finished and the coffee cup is emptied. 

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