Monday, December 29, 2008
We have met bloggers and other people we would never have met. We have enjoyed the ride and plan to continue. Who knows, you may one day read an eighth anniversary post. How about that?
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Santa was good to us. Yosemite got a sextant. He is a surveyor and cartographer, so it is right up his alley.
I got one of those flintlock pistol kits. I like working with my hands and have tools and equipment left over from when I did art and object conservation. I've also heard building one of those is an excellent way to understand how guns work.
Enough for now--my thumbs are cramping.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Yosemite Sam and I are on an all too brief vacation and will continue to blog. Our posts will be short because I'll be blogging from my Blackberry. My thumbs aren't very fast. So enjoy your holidays and if you're traveling keep safe and here's hoping you don't get stuck in an airport.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Speaking of shooting, we went to the range last Sunday. While there, I learned that I have to do something about my hearing loss. I was eight-years old when I started shooting. I shot outdoors, but without hearing protection. It just wasn't done back in those caveman days. Since then, I'm religious about making sure I wear plugs or muffs in or around my ears. Still, I'm hard of hearing (ask Yosemite Sam about my preferred TV volume setting).
What happened at the range you ask? Well, I was practicing bullseye shooting and in my defense I was deep in the zone. I had blocked out the rifle shooter on one side of me, the rapid-fire pistol shooter on the other side, and even my dear Yosemite Sam. The range officer called a cease fire and guess what, I was still potting away at my target. Yosemite had to get right up to the back of my head and yell "cease fire."
With that, my gun went to the table and my hands went up. I wondered what had gone wrong and to my relief found out it was no worse than a target carrier that had fallen and the range staff needed to repair it. No harm done, but I still feel bad. I know that when anyone calls a cease fire, it must be immediate and unquestioned.
I'm going to need muffs that block loud noises, but allows one to hear normal speech. I've seen ads for these electronic things, but have never tried them (they're a little spendy). Can anyone recommend a specific brand or model and mention how well they work? Thanks in advance.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here's something that struck me enough to grab the keyboard and bang away. Have you ever had an experience of reading a novel and thinking that the plot is unfolding in reality?
I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (link below, and since Rand was a capitalist, I get a small cut if you buy it using my link). Politically, I'm a small "l" libertarian who wants to be left alone, so I was aware of Rand's books, but never picked one up. Dr. Helen's blog post on going John Galt inspired me to buy a copy and I finally cracked it open last week.
If you've ever read the book you'll know that it's comprised of over 1100 pages of closely printed text. It has long paragraphs of densely reasoned ideology that Rand puts into the mouths of her characters. That said, somehow the story and building suspense carries you along fairly fast.
John Galt is one of the three main heroes of the book. Galt has decided that society is irredeemable and that the "people of the mind;" that is, those who produce and use their minds to build bridges, railroads, and steel mills should go on strike by withdrawing their abilities from society.
Galt and others are tired of taxes, regulations, unions, social experiments (paying people based on need, not on ability). Many of America's brightest industrialists along with a musician, judge, movie star, and others withdraw. The society begins to collapse although the strikers give it a shove every now and then to hasten its fall.
That's what struck me: Is John Galt(ism) already at work? Look at the crap around us today.
- Industrialists move production overseas for cheaper wages and less regulation;
- Three car companies are failing partly because of union/retiree contracts;
- Laws encourage risky mortgage loans;
- People feel that they're owed a living simply by being born;
- Our roads are falling apart;
- and more.
Of course, our economy and society is no where near to the collapse depicted in Atlas Shrugged, but one still wonders. It's a good read, slow in places, but something that will raise many thoughts as you read it.
The scariest thought I had while reading the book: what if the best and brightest are going on strike and John Galt didn't invite me.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
“Anticipating what Barack Obama has called “common-sense gun safety laws,” the Bush administration has rushed through a last-minute gun rule that is the antithesis of common sense.”It doesn’t discuss why lawful carry of a gun in wilderness is not common sense. I grew up in the West where there are four and two-legged predators. My family always had guns in our camping gear. Parks are comparatively safe and one may never need a gun, but my house is safe and I may never need fire insurance. I still pay for it though.
“The presence of concealed, loaded weapons is likely to change that [safe parks], and it also is likely to pose an increased threat to wildlife.”
The rule change doesn’t change criminal behavior it only allows concealed carry permitees who meet certain conditions to carry a gun in a park. These permitees are among the most law-abiding people in the country. They won’t be shooting indiscriminately or poaching.
Finally here’s the kicker:
“Unfortunately, far too many states have laws that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. But no one should misinterpret those laws as the will of the people. They too are the will of the N.R.A., which has done everything in its power to force dangerous gun laws through one State Legislature after the next.”
State after state has passed concealed carry laws. In each state, anti-gunners claimed there would be “blood on the streets,” “Dodge City shootouts,” and deadly road rage. None of that has happened. While we can’t prove that crime has not gone down because of these laws, we can show it has not gone up. There is no evidence that these are “dangerous gun laws.”
I don’t know if concealed carry is the “will of the people.” I don’t know how to determine that other than pointing out that legislatures have passed these laws. I believe permitless concealed carry is optimal, but with the current system we prove every day that “the people” have nothing to fear from permitees.
Being able to carry a gun even with a permit is a liberty. I thought liberal editorial boards supported the increase of personal liberty. I guess, not where guns are concerned.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
1. Started your own blog. (Duh)
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band. If a high school band counts.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Some time ago anyway.
8. Climbed a mountain. If smallish mountains in New Hampshire (in a car), Texas, and the highest point in Florida counts.
9. Held a praying mantis. Yick, no—ever see a close up photo of one of those things.
10. Sang a solo. When younger and in church and I am not a singer—can’t carry a tune in a box.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris. I’ve been there several times and want to go back.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. I can write and draw a bit, but I am not accomplished.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. That would be the great shrimp incident of 1992—I still have memory of that misery.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Yosemite Sam and I went to the Louvre on a winter evening and were the only people in the room with Mona Lisa.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. But, don’t tell anyone….
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb. In a petting zoo, if that counts.
26. Gone skinny dipping. Alright I admit it, now get your minds out of the gutter.
27. Run a Marathon. Are you freaking kidding me!!!
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run. In softball in high school.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community. Not up close, but traveled through them.
36. Taught yourself a new language. I taught myself French, went to France, came back and hired a tutor for my next trip, enough said.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. I am in that position now and happy with what I have (I will accept any and all raises though).
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke. See #10 for my singing abilities.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. I've been lucky.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. The latter not the former.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. An art conservation studio.
58. Taken a martial arts class. I’ve taken more than one.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. Not for awhile though.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check. A long time ago in college.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. I had a greenstick fracture in my arm and my nose has been broken twice (should have ducked).
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Been on, but not driving it.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Fairly often.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury. I served on a sexual abuse of a child case, one of the most intense experiences in my life.
91. Met someone famous. Several, but they would have no memory of me (including Fred Thompson, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Frank Church, Dirk Kempthorne, and a few others).
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one. Grandparent and I dread the day I lose my parents.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. When I was little.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone. You have to ask nowadays, how about “Owned a land-line phone.”
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.
I'm not going to tag anyone with this. The list is interesting though and it reminded me of the many phases of my life and the things I still want to do. There are a few though I don't want to do at all such as being involved in a law suit, being in an ambulance, and holding a praying mantis.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
In case you don’t know, Hunter is a movie reviewer for the Washington Post. He once wrote spy/war novels and then invented the character of Bob Lee Swagger and later his father, Earl Swagger. Earl won the Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima and served as an Arkansas state trooper (no spoilers, but Earl died young). Bob Lee was a master sniper in Vietnam.
Both characters are fascinating individuals and I grew to like them a lot, even though Hunter’s novels are far removed from other genres I love (literary fiction, certain chick-lit, sci-fi in particular). I waited for The 47th Samurai to come out in paper and wish now that I had just bought when it first came out in hardback.
As the title implies, Bob Lee Swagger is in Japan. Earl had captured a Japanese sword that proves to be important to a businessman who is tied to Yakuza gangsters. Swagger returns the sword to a family who is later slaughtered. He must fight the Yakuza as a blood-debt to the family. He learns rudimentary sword skills and couples that with his determination and honor.
I’m reading the book with a fine “suspension of disbelief.” Swagger is a master with guns and I doubt one could master the sword as fast as he does—even though Hunter takes pains to depict Swagger as being very lucky. That said it’s a good read and an excellent way to spend some entertainment hours.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Yosemite Sam and I gladly helped stimulate the economy. We bought some ammo, a few magazines, and three rifles.
We felt that Obama would win the election, particularly when the economy so dramatically tanked. On Columbus Day, Yosemite Sam bought a Dragunov-type rifle and I bought an AR-15 rifle. When we were in New Hampshire this past weekend, I saw another rifle that anti-gunners hate, an SKS.
Well, it followed me home. The one I bought was made in the former Soviet Union’s Izhevsk arsenal during 1954. It's a welcome addition to the collection even though Yosemite Sam owns another Russian SKS.
Obama may not lead an anti-gun campaign (remains to be seen), but our foes in Congress and the bureaucracy will be heartened. It would only take certain interpretations of existing laws to slow or stop imports of ammo and guns. It would only take passing and signing of a law banning sales of black rifles. It wouldn’t take much to damage our gun rights.
That’s why Yosemite and I decided to spend about $2,500.00 of our hard-earned money on three rifles and other items. They were rifles we had talked about buying anyway, so we can thank the incoming administration for motivating us. And, here they are with a bonus close up of the SKS.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I wanted to say something about the Mumbai incident. I probably have nothing here that you already haven't read, but here goes.
Every gun or suicide-belt attack illustrates how a defensive posture doesn’t work. My point does not include just terrorists, but also rampage shooters, angry spouses, and even garden variety armed robbers. Our leaders hope to defeat these people by giving us security theater. They ban guns from civilian carry in public places, they set up metal detectors, have unarmed guards check luggage and IDs, write security manuals. Then they tell us we’re safer.
Such defensive postures are an illusion. Granted, they may make car bombings more difficult if vehicles are kept back from buildings by barricades or building design. But, all the metal detectors in the world won’t stop a woman wearing a suicide belt, or a man with a gun.
The only thing that stops these attacks is the death of the would-be attacker. The only way to affect that death is to have armed people on the scene. Those people could be police or military, but there aren't enough of them to protect every possible target.
Armed citizens can help. They couldn't prevent all deaths, they may even accidentally shoot an innocent person (police or military could do so as well), but overall they could reduce the carnage by applying controlled and justified violence. In all events, it’s better to have people fight than cower under a table waiting for that fatal bullet.
It’s a sad thing to write that. I’d prefer to live in a world with puppies and unicorns where no violence is done to others for good or evil reasons. I don’t live in that world and neither do you.
It is time to realize that all the security at airports and in our buildings cannot make us safe. It may have a role to play, but without enough armed citizens who by definition are at possible targets at all times, there is no real safety.
If I ruled America, I’d ensure that Americans had access to good training and ranges for practice. I don’t and the security theater will remain our paradigm.