Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to all of you! And I hope you have a happy New Year! I want to thank you for reading my blog, and especially for commenting. It helps to know that there are a few people out there who actually do read the things I write and seem to appreciate them. I want to make sure you know that I appreciate you, too.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I grew up in a house filled with guns. Dad was in the Army, and so, of course, we had his old Army rifle, an Enfield .30-06 baseball bat of a gun. Grandad was in WWI, and so we had his rifle, too, his having died long ago and left it behind. It was a Krag .30-06 that seemed to me, as a little kid, to be 6 feet tall all by itself. It was a giant rifle.

Actually, I don't think it was the gun Grandad carried. I think it was older than that - Spanish/American War old. But we inherited it from him when he died. And Dad didn't carry the exact Enfield he owned, but he bought it later because he liked the gun. Either way, we took both rifles to various outdoor shooting ranges from time-to-time and shot them. Old .30-06 military rifles had hard walnut stocks with steel buttplates on the end. I don't know what the purpose of those steel buttplates were, certainly not to provide any comfort, but they would leave a mark in your shoulder after you fired a shot. It felt like being punched. And then you'd look inside your shirt and there'd be a reverse stamped imprint of that buttplate marking a bruise in your shoulder.

And loud, man, those guns were loud! BOOOOM! I mean, compared to the BB guns my brother and I grew up shooting a .30-06 was a literal canon. As we got older we advanced to .22 rifles. Crack! They really weren't much louder than our BB guns, although to us they were awesome. When Dad let us shoulder one of the .30-06s and fire it, we thought we'd officially grown up, like having your first beer or something.

Those rifles were SO heavy. I could see how the soldiers could use them for double-duty, firing holes in enemy soldiers and then bludgeoning their heads in with the rifle when the bullets ran out. I'd sure hate to get hit with one. It could take your head off. A baseball bat is light compared to those rifles. Truthfully if I had to choose between getting hit with a bat and an antique .30-06 rifle, I'd choose the bat.

Dad had handguns, too, all revolvers. Well, all except his Ruger 22 LR target pistol. That was his only semiautomatic pistol. He talked a few times about the Colt .45 semiauto that officers in the Army carried, and he himself carried one, having been an officer. But he had no love for them. He never expressed much interest in semiautomatic pistols at all, really. Now that I think of it, other than the 22s, none of his rifles were semiautomatics, either. They were all bolt-action rifles. And he preferred it that way.

Not Dad
My dad was not a hunter. He had hunted as a kid and didn't like it. He didn't say much about it, but he did say one time that he just didn't enjoy killing animals for sport, especially when he wasn't planning to eat it. He had no interest in that area of shooting at all. As a result, my brother and I grew up shooting paper targets, as well as bottles and cans, but never any animals. We were good shots, but the only moving targets we ever shot at were when we threw a bottle in a stream and tried to sink it before it floated away. Or each other.

It never occurred to me until today, following the massacre in Connecticut by a mentally disturbed man carrying an AR15 Bushmaster rifle, that my dad's interest in guns seemed to stop somewhere around the point of Vietnam-style weapons. As far as I am aware, and I haven't researched this, but apparently Vietnam was the first war in which American soldiers carried anything even remotely like the AR15, with its built-in handle on top and very non-wooden appearance. The rifles used in the military from Vietnam onward look and feel nothing like the previous military rifles. Even in the Korean War they carried the wooden-stocked M1 rifle. To this very day, enthusiasm for the old M1 rifle is very high among shooters. They love that gun. But the crowd that likes the more modern military-style rifles, the M16s and AR15s and such, seems to be a very different crowd.

Gun show
At gun shows there is every sort of person walking around looking to pick up a few things that they have a need or an interest in. There are book salesmen and knife salesmen and leather goods craftsmen and western wear salesmen and gun safe salesmen. You can find all manner of antique guns, going right back to black powder, with no shortage of enthusiasts for muskets and the like. You can find swords and suits of armor. You can even sometimes find metal-smiths who will make a suit of armor to fit you, if you really want it. There are lots of bikers, guys with long ponytails and leather vests with "Harley Davidson" written across the back. There are guys in military fatigues who clearly haven't been in the military for a very long time, if ever.

And those are usually the guys who want the M16s and AR15s and the like. Its the guys in military clothing who may or may not have once been in the military. I guess that's fair, considering my dad was in the military prior to the introduction of those type rifles and maintained his interest in the very guns he was trained with, but not much that came after. I suppose it's fair that a man trained by the Army to shoot an M16 would want to buy an M16 for himself when he was older.

A different breed
But somehow, to me, they seem a different crowd. First of all, those types of guns cost twice as much as all the other rifles. You can't walk away with any M16 or AR15 or anything of the sort for under $1000. That's quite a commitment to one gun. Guys like my dad wouldn't pay that for a rifle unless it came with a really nice scope, a carrying case, and some nice extras, like maybe a hooker. But a bare-bones gun costing over $1000? No way, not for my dad, not for Dad's type of shooting enthusiast, and not for me.

The Hello Kitty AR15 is the real thing
I don't know if it's fair to try to paint the type of shooter who pays over $1000 for a purely military-style gun with a broad brush. It probably isn't. But from what I've seen, the same guys who buy those rifles are the guys who'll pay $50,000 for a customized Harley, another $50,000 for a supercharged new Camaro, spend a fortune on leather goods that they wear to ride their bikes so they can look bad-ass, and then live in a dump at home. Those guys, and survivalists, seem to be the main people that I see at gun shows and gun stores buying the modern military rifles. Money is no object, just as long as it looks cool and bad-ass.

To politicians and the media, guns that look bad-ass are scary. And anything that looks scary can be portrayed as being evil and in need of some sort of government action by otherwise worthless politicians. It's easy to call for a ban on "assault weapons", for which there is no actual legal definition, show photos of the AR15, and then go and ban the Ruger 10/22 and other totally unrelated guns instead. That's what they always do. Even more worthless was the ban on high capacity magazines. No one ever died because of a high capacity magazine. Changing magazines in a rifle takes 1 second or less. And you can strap 10 of them to your belt if you feel the need. But the high capacity magazines LOOK scary - especially the drum magazines that remind us of the gangsters with their Thompson submachine guns of the 1930s. Scary makes for good press. Scary gets on the air. Scary gets a US Senator to hold it up over his balding head and shout that he will not rest until it is illegal for anyone (except his own bodyguards) to own one.

But getting back to my non-political point, I have never wanted to own an AR15 or an M16 or anything that costs as much or looks much the same. And my dad never wanted one. And I don't recall my brother ever mentioning the slightest desire to own one. I have never actually known anyone who owned one. Not one single person. And I'm in the NRA. I do remember my brother talking about what a huge piece of crap he thought they were, with their .223 caliber bullets and combination plastic and metal parts. Its not that my brother was any expert, but he knew how to lock onto an opinion that my dad would approve of, which means that he knew my dad had no respect for the modern military rifles either.

Typical rifle collection
Looking around the web, I see a lot of shooting enthusiasts who talk with fondness and respect for the old army rifles, starting with the M1 and going backwards through history. Some mention the M14, which was a variation of the M1, but nothing like the M16. Several people on the net talk with derision of the M16s and AR15s. It seems that these ugly, underpowered, and politically expedient punching bags are not much loved by anyone who isn't a member of a SWAT team or survivalist group. And I'm not even sure about the SWAT teams. They carry them, but they don't buy them with their own money.  The point is, these rifles were made exclusively for governments intent upon waging a war as cheaply as possible. The M16 and AR15 is intended to compete with the communists AK-47, which is far more powerful, but no less cheaply made and quite a bit less expensive to produce. They were never intended to be very marketable or serve any sort of dual purpose between soldiers and hunters and target shooters. They are ugly and cheaply made, but accurate and lightweight - perfect for a weak politically correct modern soldier or a punk wannabe who hopes the Mayans were right and tomorrow really is the last day for civilization.

But for me, and for most shooting enthusiasts, those guns are just ugly, overpriced, glorified .22s that the government mandated to an army that had no say in the matter. And from what I hear, the soldiers that carry them into combat have been begging for something better ever since.

Please bring me a better rifle!

* UPDATE which wrecks my entire conclusion:

I talked to my brother-in-law about this and he said he was considering buying an AR15 to replace his old Ruger Mini-14 rifle, which he uses to shoot coyotes around his property. He heard the AR15 was incredibly accurate and it uses the same ammunition as the Mini-14 he already owns.

Then I talked to my cousin in Texas who has a problem with wild hogs and coyotes invading his property, harassing his animals and crops and endangering his kids. He said he tried shooting at the predators with an AR15 and could hit them with extreme accuracy from 200 yards away with multiple shots before they could turn and run off. He likes the gun so much for shooting wild predators and problem animals that he had a customized version made for his son to use. He used to think like I do, that these guns are useless, but after trying one out he was so impressed that he is now a believer and an owner of 2.

So my conclusion was wrong. Apparently they are great rifles for shooting 'varmints' and super accurate. For someone with a predator problem this kind of accuracy is worth the $1000+ price tag.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I had the flu pretty badly about 2 or 3 weeks ago. And now I have it again. I was at work on Tuesday when I began to feel as if someone had shot me in the stomach and perhaps I needed to take the bullet out because it was still in there. So I knew this wasn't a normal feeling to have. On top of that, my stomach felt like it was blown up as big as the Hindenberg and might explode at any moment. So of course this was the time my boss picked for having lots of meetings. I had to sit in his office on top of his desk, as all the chairs were taken, while feeling like a gunshot victim. Before long my back began to ache, too. I was just in heaven. So there I was on my boss' desk with an inflated stomach rocking back and forth in agony. I could hardly wait for the meeting to end so I could go home and die.

So naturally the meeting went long. We left the office well after 5. I threw on my coat and stepped outside into the parking lot. As soon as the cold hit me I began to violently shiver and my teeth were chattering. OK, it was cold out, but it wasn't quite that cold. Clearly I was very, very sick.

I ran to the car and jumped in, started it up, and cranked up the heat. I drove home for nearly 1 hour with the heat going full blast. It did not warm me AT ALL. Another person riding with me said they could hardly breathe because it was so freakin' hot inside my car. But I couldn't feel any of it. I was still shivering.

Once I reached my own house I ran inside, kicked off my shoes, and dove into bed. Even with all the covers over my head and me curled into a ball I was shivering and chattering my teeth. At some point I got up, aimed the heater in the master bathroom towards the bed and turned it on full blast. Then I jumped back into bed. I stayed in bed from the time I got home until the next morning when I had to contact work to let them know I was not going to be able to make it in.

Must be the flu

So Wednesday and Thursday I was home feeling like death. But for some reason I felt sure I'd be back at work by Friday for sure. Friday came and I developed a new sympton - rocket propulsion diarrhea. NASA could've used my diarrhea to send another Space Shuttle into orbit without requiring any fuel tanks at all, I kid you not.

So I was not able to return to work on Friday either.
One of the weird effects of this flu is that I can't taste anything at all. Everything tastes like wax. I never had a good sense of smell, but I suppose at the moment I have none at all. My ears are ringing. They always did to some extent, but they're really loud right now. I'm not sure how much of this is from the flu and how much I just didn't notice before sitting home alone for 3 quiet, boring days.

My dreams are weird. I remembered a few of them at first, but now that I'm writing about this I can't remember any of them at all. Everything is hazy

I feel as if my muscles are being sucked dry on my bones. I haven't been to the gym in a very long time, so it's unavoidable that I've experienced some hypertrophy, but now I feel like they're just turning into dust. There's an ache that goes with shrinking muscles and boy do I have that ache, in spades. Just tonight I grabbed a 30 lb dumbbell from behind the couch and slowly and feebly pumped out 10 reps of overhead Arnold presses. I just needed the feeling of having something pumping into the muscles to bring them back to life again. It actually felt good. If I weren't still sick I'd drop to the floor and start doing pushups or something. If I could manage that I'm sure the renewed blood flow into my chest, shoulders and triceps would be a welcomed relief from this zombie-like decay I've been feeling.

Do I look smaller to you?
Anyway, that's all that's going on right now. This flu seems to be going around so I'm curious if anyone else has it that reads this blog. Of course, that's an audience of maybe 5 people, minus an old friend who just dropped me out of the blue without any explanation, so that's like 4 now. If you guys can avoid this flu, I highly recommend you do so. It's awful. And two times in a row is even worse.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Office Drama

I have some office drama that is bugging me. It's nothing as exciting as Minxy's Princess problems, but it is driving me up the wall nonetheless.

This is my cup. There are others like it, but this one is mine.
This is my coffee cup. It's an ordinary generic-looking blue cup that I have had forever. I take it with me from job to job, along with the cup warmer, so that I can be conscious in the mornings while I'm trying to work. Coffee is an essential ingredient to my work. I don't like coffee, especially, but I need the caffeine to make my brain go. And sometimes I need the warmth to help me dethaw on winter mornings.

Sometime in late August someone at my job decided that it was their job to take this cup from off my desk and go throw it in the break room. This happened several times, each time with the cup disappearing from my desk and reappearing in the breakroom. Sometimes it was on the counter. Sometimes it was in the sink. A few times it was inside the dishwasher.

I assumed it was the cleaning crew thinking this is a generic company cup that they have to clean, so I asked my boss to put me in touch with whomever is responsible for the cleaning crew. Then I asked that person to please ask his crew to stop taking my personal coffee cup. This is not a company cup.

The response I got back was that I should lock the cup inside my desk every single day any time I leave my desk and further, how do I know it is the cleaning crew since I don't have video cameras set up around my desk to prove that it was them and I can't just go around accusing them like that and it is my fault if I didn't lock it in my desk.

So I had to request a key to my desk and begin locking the cup inside my desk every day at the end of the workday before I went home. End of problem, right?

Wrong. The cup STILL disappears periodically from out of my locked desk and reappears in the break room. It disappeared again in September, several times, and then October, and again this morning. I guess they took November off or something? Anyway, sometime between Friday night and Monday morning someone broke into my desk and took my cup. I found it in the breakroom inside the dishwasher along with several other people's cups.

This sure sounds like the cleaning staff to me. Does it to you?

Anyway, another person somehow involved in this suggested that it is merely a prank by coworkers who sit near me. I said I didn't think so because A) it isn't at all creative B) it isn't at all funny and most of all C) I never said anything to them about it or even indicated that it was going on, so they didn't even know it was happening.

Ah, but this person took it upon themselves to go and question my coworkers anyway, months ago, in fact. And after that my coworkers said to me "we didn't take your stupid cup" and mostly stopped talking to me altogether. Thanks so much for accusing my coworkers on my behalf after I said I don't think they had anything to do with it. Now they think I am some sort of paranoid schizophrenic who randomly accuses people of the very odd crime of stealing my cup out of my locked desk and washing it. So awesome.

In the meantime, I have encountered the cleaning crew on a few occasions. They are contracted from another company. Many of them are mentally handicapped. We used to call this 'retarded' but then one day a wave of political correctness swept the nation (Clinton was elected) and suddenly we weren't supposed to use the word retarded anymore. I personally think that the mentally challenged retarded people who clean our offices believe that my generic blue coffee cup is their responsibility to clean. I think that they believe it to be company property and that they should take it wherever they find it, clean it, and leave it in the break room for any random person to use for their coffee as they please. This is why I specifically asked that the cleaning crew be informed that this is my cup and not to be taken. But they refuse to do this. They refuse to talk to the cleaning crew about it because they say that is an accusation and I don't have proof. But they questioned my coworkers about it even after I said I don't believe it is them. And now my coworkers most definitely feel accused and won't talk to me. So awesome.

Coffee cup ... must take it