Friday, July 31, 2009

Ammo Price Alert

I'll probably hate myself for telling others about this, if only because it will sell out quicker and I don't have any cash for any now, but it seems that at least one major retailer of 7.62x39 ammunition has initiated a price drop. AmmoMan.com is offering Wolf 122 grain JHP (black box) in that caliber for $279 shipped. A comparison shows that Sportsmansguide.com lists it currently (as I write) advertised for $314.97 plus $19.49 for shipping for a total of $334. Going with AmmoMan in this instance would save you $55.46 - a nice chunk of change. There are similar savings on other types of Wolf 7.62x39 ammo at AmmoMan. For example they want $259 for a case of 124 grain FMJ Military Classic shipped while the Sportsmansguide wants $271.97 plus 19.49 shipping for a total of $291.46. AmmoMan would save you $32.46 on the Military Classic. Now, you can get it less expensively at the Sportsmansguide if you are a club member but that cost about $25 to join. It gives you a 10% discount on all orders but even then the price would not match that of AmmoMan right now. Sportsmansguide also offers coupons from time to time of up to $10 off on an order for that much money, but it still would not match Ammoman right now either. I usually buy from Sportsmansguide because they usually have the best prices in town, but not this time. If you were to join Sportsmansguide's club you could also get free shipping on your first order, but you get the picture - AmmoMan is offering those prices to everyone - no club membership required - and shipping is included regardless. Besides all that, Sportsmansguide seems to be back-ordered on most of the Wolf 7.62x39 that they advertise. I guess that makes it a no brainer if you need some of this ammo right now.

Now I don't know if I should scrape up the cash for a thousand rounds from AmmoMan or wait a week or two to see if ammo prices are falling and will soon be even lower. If I wait I could lose out if it is only a fluke. Maybe I'll wait a day. If they still have it on Saturday, and other places prices have not fallen, then maybe I'll order a case from Ammoman. Hopefully they will still have some left.

Wait a minute, did I just say it was a "no brainer". There I was about to go ordering more ammo. Then suddenly I heard a voice say: "Hang on there Glenn
- wait one cotton pickun minute - maybe this requires a brain after all". It was my voice, and thankfully it was only in my head as I had said it to myself; then I went thinking again and burned up more of my little gray cells. The thinking got me to checking.

So, I just checked the price of the Wolf 7.62x39 122 grain JHP (black box) at some other online vendors. Cheaperthandirt.com does not even offer it (as I write they only show soft point available from Wolf), ClassicArms.com shows 124 grain (that should be the Military Classic as far as I know) listed for $289 (probably plus shipping) with this Wednesday's date on the web page, and CenterfireSystems.com has it at a lower price than all of them yet - including much lower than Ammoman. Now while AmmonMan advertises it with a Polymer coating, CenterfireSystems does not mention if it is the old lacquer coated ammo or the polymer coated stuff - while that may matter to you, at the offered price it does not matter to me one way or the other.

As for the price at CenterfireSystems: No - I am not telling you the price. What I will tell you is that since I have never ordered ammunition from them before as far as I can remember (that is none too far nowadays) I will call them tomorrow to make sure this ammo is in stock and then order over the telephone. It beats all the others hands down folks is all I will say. Wow what a deal compared to other current prices that I could find!

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Biweekly Gun Shots 11 - Mosin Nagant 91/30 (with Turned Down Bolt)

Mosin Nagant bolt action rifles are well known rifles. The many models and variations were the main battle rifles of the Soviet Union, and other eastern bloc nations, for many years. If you are not that familiar with them but have seen the movie Enemy At The Gate - those were Mosin Nagant rifles used by the Soviet snipers. That movie was set in WWII. The Mosin Nagant predates WWII by many years and went through many models and variants before it wound up used in that war. The 91 in the model number is short for 1891. The rifle was used from 1891 through the 1960s as a battle rifle. That includes service in: The Sino-Russian War, The Russian Revolution, WWI, WWII, The Korean Conflict, The Vietnam War and so forth. Of course once the old bolt action rifles were replaced with semi-automatics and fully automatic weapons the became dinosaurs for the eastern bloc military, but that took quite the while. That was a boon for collectors.

As for the actual rifle models of Nagant (as they are commonly called) I will not go into them all here, it would require pages and pages. I will discuss one of them though, not as to details of its history but as to its current availability and shootabilty.


Currently there are at least a few online vendors who offer the Mosin Nagant model 91/30. They are usually available with the round receiver but some also come with a hexagonal receiver. Both are usually inexpensive, that is unless you find a sniper model. The regular ones, with the straight bolt handle (it sticks straight out to the side and is not curved down when the bolt is closed) can be had for as little as about $80 plus shipping; figure about $20 to $25 for shipping. Not a bad deal. The sniper rifles, on the other hand go for about $400 to $500 apiece, plus shipping. The biggest difference between the two of them, of which I am aware, is that the sniper rifles have a turned down bolt handle. That means when the bolt is closed the bolt handle is pointing down, and when it is open the handle does not stick straight up as does the straight bolt handle but cants off to the right. The allows for a scope to be fit above the receiver, something impossible to do practically on the straight handled models because with it sticking straight up it gets in the way of scope rail and scope placement on the receiver. Another difference, of course, is that the sniper rifles come with a scope too, some with the original old scopes, some with new replacements.

If I wanted one of these rifles I would not care all that much about whether it had been a sniper rifle or not. I like to shoot em for fun, I am not about to use an old warhorse like a Nagant as a sniper rifle today. I would rather opt for a modern bolt action rifle, in a manageable weight, that shoots .308 ammunition, and that has an adjustable trigger. Yet, when I recently heard that Nagants maybe available with the turned down bolt for only $155 I figured I had best look into the situation. So I did a bit of Internet surfing and came up with this source of the Nagants with a turned down bolt at a great price: RGuns.net. Folks they have the Mosin Nagant 91/30 with turned down bolt for the amazing price of $155. My guess is that they had some extra bolts from the sniper rifles and put them into a regular 91/30.That is just my guess, maybe they were actually manufactured with these bolts but somehow I doubt the price would then be so low.

As for the basic Nagant design - it was built to last. These were true warhorse type guns: big, heavy, strong. They fire 7.62x54R ammunition which is readily available either in surplus (much of which uses corrosive primers) or current commercial manufacture (all of which should be noncorrosive). If you are familiar with them, you don't need me to make up your mind for you. If you are not familiar with them and are a shooting enthusiast, might I suggest maybe you should look into acquiring one or more of them. I am about to do likewise. If they still have them in stock, I will be sending them a copy of my C&R license as soon as possible. Once they receive it, I'll place an order. of course if you have a C&R you can order this rifle directly from them; otherwise you will need to go through a local FFL holder in your area. That adds more to the overall price of the rifle (probably around $50 average across the USA), but the rifle is still worth it in my opinion. It can last you for decades if cared for properly.

For more info on these rifles, see:

All the best and safe shooting,
Glenn B

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Last Surviving Soldier...

... to have fought in trench warfare during WWI was not a hero, maybe never even killed a German during the war, although he recalled at least one whom he had shot with his machine gun and revolver. That was in his very first battle in 1917.

What brings him to noteworthiness today is that he was the last living of all known soldiers to have fought in the trenches during World War I, at 111 years and 38 days he was also the oldest man in England, was also one of the oldest in the world, and he passed away on July 25th. Another thing that made him noteworthy was that he never believed the war was worth the effort. His father was wounded in WWI in 1914 and was returned home where he told Harry of the war's horrors in an attempt to keep his son from voluntarily joining the army. It was to no avail as Harry was called to join (conscripted) in 1916. He stepped foot on the continent in 1917 and faced his first battle then.

During his first engagement that involved an attack, Patch recalls the terrors he experienced. As his unit advanced (he was a machine gunner) he came across another British soldier who begged Harry to kill him because he had been severely wounded. A moment later the soldier cried out for she who which all men call at such times - his mother - and he perished. Patch also described the first German he shot, a soldier during the same engagement. As the German soldier charged, Patch shot him with his Lewis Light Machine Gun. The German dropped his rifle but did not fall and within a couple of seconds Harry decided to shoot him in his leg and ankle with his revolver to stop but not kill him. He recalled later that he had thought of biblical verses of when Moses received the commandments and the commandment: Thou Shalt not kill. Despite his firm religious and ethical beliefs, Patch went to fight - probably because he also believed in service to his country. He served again in WWII but on the home front and not in the military because he was too old at the time. Patch served 4 months in the trenches during WWI before he was wounded in the groin due to an explosion that killed 3 others in his unit. It was a day and an event that would haunt him for the remainder of his life.

It took him over 80 years for him to talk about it or anything else about 'the war to end all wars'. He was interviewed in 1998 for a documentary about World War I and apparently felt it was time to start talking because he realized then he was part of a vanishing breed. I imagine he did not think then he would be the last of them but he began to do several documentaries about WWI. In 2007 though the realization sank home and he made the following observation:

"Any one of them could have been me. Millions of men came to fight in this war and I find it incredible that I am the only one left."
—Commenting on graves at a
Flanders war cemetery, July 2007 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Patch)

Amazingly Harry was born in the 19th century - that would be the 1800's folks - in 1898. He lived through 3 centuries. He was a plumber by trade. He served on home defense in WWII being too old for military service by then. He married at least twice and survived both of his sons. Henry Asllignham, the next to last living soldier who had been in the trenches during WWI passed away exactly one week before Harry. Mr. Patch's view of war was a simple one, at least of WWI:

"Too many died. War isn't worth one life..."

I don't know that I agree with him on that point overall athough maybe he was right about WWI; WWII was a beast of a different nature. WWII, I think, was worth the price to defeat the evil in that one. As for Harry Patch and his view of WWI, as I said - maybe he was right on with that one. As he said, in 2004 when at a memorial for a battle, when he met Charles Kuentz (a 108 year old German veteran at the time):

"It was very emotional. We had both been on the same battlefield at Pilckem Ridge. He was a nice man, and we communicated, even though we had no common language. Then we both sat in silence, staring out at the landscape. Both of us remembering the stench, the noise, the gas, the mud crusted with blood, the cries of our fallen comrades. We had both fought because we were told to. All of those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now, what is the sense of that? Neither Charles nor I ever want any other young man ever to go through that again." (reference link)

Read more about Harry Patch at the above links, or if you have the inclination read about him in his own words in his autobiography: The Last Fighting Tommy. Lest we forget Harry Patch - he was a man of conviction and a man who served with honor, and was indeed the last surving soldier, The Last Fighting Tommy, who saw trench warfare in WWI.

All the best,
Glenn B

Biweekly Gun Shots - Lack Of Gun Rants

I have not forgotten that I promised a new section, some time ago, dedicated to presenting you with gun rants at least once every two weeks, or twice per week depending on how you interpret the word 'biweekly'. While I was in Tucson, I just did not have a lot of time to blog, and while I had access to three firearms, I did not have access to any more of them and had darned little time to shoot. I think I went to the range twice - once to qualify for my job and once when my son Brendan came to visit me for 10 days. With that said allow me to also say that I will continue the Biweekly Gun Shots starting sometime today or within the next few days. I'll try my darnedest to get one done today, maybe later tonight since I probably will be tied up with other obligations this afternoon.

All the best,
Glenn B

4 Suspects Detained In U.S. Border Patrol Agent's Death - Did You Even Realize a BPA Had Been Shot & Killed Recently?


The article at the below link appeared on FoxNews.com today Sunday July 26, 2009. The death of Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas (photo), and the capture of 4 suspects gets a good amount of press, the story is well written and so forth. Still, I have to wonder how in Hades this article only appeared today! Was there anything about the killing of the Border Patrol Agent on Thursday or Friday? I ask because he was gunned down on Thursday. I heard about it through official channels at work. I certainly would have thought that the death of a federal agent due to foul play would have been newsworthy - then again - one wonders if the current administration had anything to gain by keeping a lid on it for a few days. You know let it out over the weekend so all the hype over it dies down by Monday morning when Congress will again consider giving health benefits to illegal aliens. Maybe I am wrong, maybe it did appear in online news outlets and I just missed it. I guess I missed it on the news on the radio and on TV on Thursday and Friday too.

Oh well, enough of me ranting, the important thing is that another LEO has fallen doing his job trying to protect the USA - and also that this was one of the most pointless deaths of all. I mean think of it this way, our borders are like Swiss cheese because the politicians refuse to enact simpler yet stricter laws - they just do not care how many enter illegally or how many bring in drugs or other contraband so long as the flow of illegals fulfills there political agenda for whatever twisted purpose. Yet at the same time we have thousands of Border Patrol and other federal agents working in harm's way along our borders fighting immigration crimes for which none to few are prosecuted. Go figure. Don't spend too much time figuring right now though, instead spend some time trying to honor the fallen agent's memory.

Suspects Detained in Mexico in U.S. Border Agent's Death - Local News News Articles National News US News - FOXNews.com

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Well look at this one below too, it appears I was wrong and the story did come out earlier - well on Saturday anyhow.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534761,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a16:g2:r2:c0.029487:b26726076:z0

Bear in mind though he was shot and killed on Thursday. What a shame that the media is so slow in reporting such news - yet Michael Jackson was on the news almost before he was cold, and he stayed there for what - two weeks or so. Of course we have also heard an awful lot about some guy who got arrested in Cambridge, MA and who cried racism, or was it he screamed racism. We have even heard about that at least two or three times from the President of the United States himself. I wonder, how many statements has he made about Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas (or was it Albert Rojas - I have seen it reported both ways)! I have not heard word one from President Obama about this tragic and senseless loss, then again it is possible I missed the news conference he may have held about it. If anyone deserves your prayers, your condolences, you admiration, your attention right now - then it is this fallen agent and his family and other loved ones. Come on President Obama, come on all you Congresspeople, come on all you entertainers, come on you in the Media, come on fellow bloggers, come on all you regular Joes and Janes - give up the time to spare him a thought and a comment or three in his honor.

By the way:

Yeah I know, I only blogged about this in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Then again I am not the media, I am not the President, I am not someone whose job it is to notice such men or honor them. I had been thinking of doing this piece on Friday, but had no time on Friday (unlike the media which has minions to do the reporting). In addition I cannot just take time out of my schedule the way certain politicians can to drop by a baseball game like the All Stars game, or take time to meddle in things like disorderly conduct arrests and make statements about them before even a bit of the facts from BOTH sides are known, or then invite the parties in that petty affair to my home for beers and a kiss and make up session. Nope I actually have some important things to do that I do not have lackeys to do for me; things like like balance my checkbook, or spend time with my mom who was hospitalized today.

Somehow though I found time to honor BPA Robert Wimer Rosas in my own small way because I thought that was very important too. I found time at 1:15 AM to do so. I am not blowing my own horn here, I am just wondering why the heck aren't many others doing likewise especially in politics, government service, and in the media. It boggles my mind, so much so that now I am going to go have a beer and maybe a shot of excellent Irish Whiskey. Why? Because to tell you the truth, after reading about this agent and writing about it myself - then thinking about M. Jackson, and about the whole disorderly conduct arrest of that guy Gates, and President Obama's response to it, and about the response overall or lack of it to the death of BPA Rosas (or apparent lack of it) - well I need both and you can bet I will toast him as I drink them. Heck it could have been me or any other federal agent or LEO but it wasn't - was it. It was Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas and we should honor him and grieve with his family.

My condolences go out to his family and loved ones. He is and will remain in my thoughts for some time to come. He is doing Line-Watch of a different sort now, from a much loftier perspective, I suppose.

All the best,
Glenn B

A Balancing Act...

...or should I say Balancing Accomplishment, or better yet Balancing Milestone - I balanced my checkbook today. Actually, I started on it a few days ago. I sat down then for about 3 or 4 hours with it and started to rewrite the whole thing. Why? Well, it seems that when I was in Tucson it did not get filled in as it should have. I sat down with it again today and was busy with it for 6 1/2 hours nonstop except once or twice to answer the phone. When I was done it was off by $75.93. I found that one tonight after about another 1/2 hour. We paid a bill twice, my wife by check and me by EFT but it only got entered once. It is amazing I found. While in Tucson I kept details of all the bills I paid by EFT, I sent emails to my wife and called her with the info to input into the checkbook. I kept the details in a file called 'bills' on my thumb drive. Wouldn't you know that when I looked for that folder tonight it was not there. Beats me how it disappeared but I was miffed. Luckily I also had a folder for my ATT bills and the only one in there was the one that was paid twice. So when I looked at that file, there it was, the extra payment. Sometimes dumb luck hits us on the head.

I have to tell you that when I arrived home to find only a couple of grand in the checkbook - when I knew it should have contained at least about $9 0r 10 thousand dollars - I was pissed and I let everyone know it. People three or four blocks away probably heard me. Besides that there was another thing to be p-o'd about. I had opened a new account in December (the one in question) because another account had not balanced correctly and was off in our favor by about 2 or 3 grand. We knew the money in there was legitimately ours because we sought of stash money in the account sometimes by not writing in deposits. Leaves us a windfall if there is ever an emergency. The thing is we just lost track of the right balance and had let it go that way over a year. So I stopped using that account for a couple of months to be certain every check had cleared. I opened a new one to use while it was in essence shut down. The new one was only opened in December 2008, and it was already fouled up big time by the end of my 4 months in Tucson. What a mess; but it got taken care of after about 10 or 11 hours of work at it.

It sure pays to stay on top of things like that, and my wife and I plan to do so from now on. Really folks, all kidding aside, my wife is usually better at this than am I, by a long shot.


Oh, before I forget, lest you think I am rolling in dough - I am not. Most of the money in the newest account is either owed to my government credit card account for my trip, or is money I have on the side for a car. It will soon be time to sell the 1996 Ford Taurus and get a new one. We bought the Taurus new way back in 1996 or maybe it was late 95 (whenever the new cars are out which I think is in the actual year prior to the model year for at least a few months). So I guess we have had it at least 13 years, maybe 14 years. Yes we tend to hang onto our cars for quite the long while before we get another. It took forever to save the approximate 8 grand I have set aside for a down payment and if I can convince my wife to cough up her money from her private account (imagine a husband having a private account - yeah right) then maybe we can buy a new one outright. One can hope.

All the best,
Glenn B


Sunday, July 19, 2009

A New Soldier...

...has been assigned to me by Soldiers' Angels. While I cannot tell you his name, I can say that he is assigned to B Trp 3-61 CAV 4BCT 4ID COP Keating. COP Keating is a Combat Outpost located in eastern Afghanistan only about 15 miles from the Pakistani border. For more Information see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/15/life-grim-at-remote-outpost/print/. It sounds like one heck of a hellish place to be stationed, so my bet is that this soldier sees too much combat.

There is a fly in the ointment with this assignment for me. My soldier has no email address listed with Soldiers' Angels. That means I cannot be in rapid contact with him to find out anything about his needs and wants for a care package for him and his fellow troops. He did put down a list of some items with Soldiers' Angels such as toiletries and cigarettes and dip (smokeless tobacco) since his base has no PX. I imagine I will start shopping in the next day or two. If he is still assigned to me at Christmas you can expect solicitations from me to you for help once again. Although I have a donation button posted on the upper right side of my blog I probably will not really pester anyone before then unless he and his buddies have some special needs that I cannot cover financially. Of course if you want to you can always help out by donating money to my PayPal account using the donate button I just mentioned.

All the best,
Glenn B

Are They On Your Mind - Or Have You Forgotten?

I was away in Tucson, AZ for the past 4 months. Over that time I did not have a lot of time to blog. Yeah I got some done but not as much as usual. I did have a lot of time to think though and one of the things I thought about often was that when I returned home I was going to have to contact Soldiers' Angels to sign up for a new soldier to whom to send care packages and with whom to keep in touch by email. That thought was prompted over and over again as I realized that most people in the USA do not seem to remember that we are at war on two fronts right now - one in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. I saw, everywhere I went, that we act normal during time of war. That is not normal for the people of a country unless they have in essence forgotten the war or have not been affected by it. I think there is a combination of both and an add on of the fact that we have gotten used to being at war. Of course there is the fact that the media is not blasting President Obama anywhere as near as they did President Bush (is that media bias). There is little to nothing in the news each day about how many soldiers died this day or that day, there is little reminder that we are up over four thousand dead and tens of thousands wounded, there is little to report on how successful we are in Iraq or Afghanistan, the reports of fighting are few and far between - yet our military men and women keep on getting killed despite our current president promising to bring them home in short order once elected.

It is a shame that so many of us have seem to forgotten that we are at war whether it be because it does not affect us as much as it should or because it is convenient not to mention it such as in the lesser amount of media coverage it currently receives. Of course there are those who do not forget. They who are there on the front lines have not forgotten. They who are here at home who have sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends or lovers in the midst of a war do not forget. They who have their loved ones return without being able to say goodbye - they do not forget either - and for them the memories will never fade. There are also some others of us who do not forget; as you will see the folks in rural GA certainly remember that we are at war and what it means to be an American and how important it is to honor our troops.

A few lines below this you will find an embedded video of a procession bearing the body of fallen Army National Guardsman Sergeant 1st Class John C. Beale from a small airport just south of Atlanta to his home in McDonough, GA. SSGT. Beale was killed near Kapisa, Afghanistan on June 4, 2009; two other National Guardsmen fell with him that day - Maj. Kevin M. Jenrette and Spc. Jeffrey W. Jordan. All three suffered fatal wounds due to improvised explosives and small arms fire. (As to John C. Beale please note: I have given his rank as Sergeant 1st Class and as Staff Sergeant because I have seen it both ways in reports of his death and because I do not know if there is a distinction.)

Apparently a notice was placed in local town newspapers about the date and time of when the procession would likely take place. Those notices apparently had some great effect, much like the force to topple the first of thousands of dominoes. I never saw this on the television news - but maybe it was reported on, I never heard about it on radio talk shows - but maybe they covered it, I never heard a word about it - not until I received an email from a friend of mine today who had a link to the video. Maybe you have seen it, maybe not. If you have not seen it - watch it and be humbled, maybe even shamed. If you have seen it before, watch it again.



Damn it folks, if tears did not start flowing down your cheeks, or at least well up in your eyes, then there is something wrong with you. If those tears did flow, then there is something you need to do as an American. You can contact a group like:
Soldiers' Angels, A Million Thanks, Email Our Military, Tell Them Thanks, Hero Box, Operation Dear Abby, or another one that helps to get you in touch with our troops and start an email/letter writing and care package sending campaign to help keep their spirits high. As for the above, I can only speak about Soldiers' Angels, Email Our Troops and Operation Dear Abby by way of personal experience since I have used those three to contact our troops. With Dear Abby and Email the Troops I never got a reply from the troops but that was okay - supposedly they forwarded my emails to them. With Soldiers' Angels - well that is a different story. You see I 'adopted' a soldier from them twice. They give you privileged information about a serviceman or servicewoman serving our country overseas. Then it becomes your responsibility to stay in contact with, and send care packages to, that person for the duration of his or her deployment. I can tell you this - the soldiers appreciate it very much. Luckily, both of the soldiers that I 'adopted' came home alive and well as opposed to how Sgt. Beale arrived back home. The thing is that Sgt. 1st Class Beale was honored for his sacrifice and I wonder, if while he was in Afghanistan was anyone here among us or among the throng of people who honored his posthumous return home thinking of him then - was anyone thinking of what you, I, we could have done to make his day better while he was still alive and fighting for us over there? I certainly hope that was the case - I hope that at least he knew some of us back home remembered and cared that we had troops in harms way fighting a war many of us seem to have forgotten - I hope someone let him know that by way of sending him a letter now and again, and sending him a care package chocked full of goodies, goodness and hope.

What I am getting at is that if you have a conscience, if you love your country, if you believe in freedom and democracy and our way of life, if you truly want to support our troops, then you had best be thinking of certain things that you can do to help after having watched that video. You had best remember that we are at war, that people like Staff Sergeant John C. Beale serve and die for our country and for us all to regularly while fighting it, that too many of us seem to have forgotten that or just do not care, that it is not one of life's trifles but is an important thing in the line of many that keeps us a free nation, that there is something you can do to help even if you are here sleeping safe and sound in your bed each night, and that it is truly up to you - to us - to get it done.


So get to it now - right now - click on those links over at the right side of my blog under the Support Our Troops header and start supporting them yourself. Having the war or the troops on your mind does not get it done. Saying "I support our troops" or displaying a banner or bumper sticker that says likewise does little to really give them support. Do something tangible to not only show your support but to actually bolster them up and do it now. It will not only benefit our troops and America it will be good for your soul - believe me on that one.

There have been 77 other military personnel who have died while at war (the info at this link is humbling indeed) since the day SSGT Beale was killed in action.Yes folks the war is still going on - our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines are still fighting and dying for us - have you remembered that lately? Have you done anything to support them?

All the best,
Glenn B

Departure Was Exigent Not Imminent...

...and I am home already. As it turns out, right after I made my last post to my blog page, I found out my wife had pneumonia. With her already having Swine Flu I figured I had best get on a plane faster than a speeding bullet. So I called my boss at about noon on Friday and told him the situation and he said "get outta here" or something to that effect. I drove into the office, got some necessary job related paperwork done, made a flight reservation, handed in stuff that had been temporarily assigned to me and was off to do some quick shopping before leaving. Shopping included a trip to a store or two to pic up some gifts of chocolates for hotel staff at the front desk and in the kitchen. The staff was great except for the maids, and one higher up. The maids sucked at cleaning or speaking English so no sweets for them. Then it was back to the hotel for packing. That was a whirlwind affair about as wild as a roller coaster ride in a tornado - but I only forgot one thing, a small pair of scissors. I also cleaned up any food I had in the room, and after just about 4 months of staying at a hotel you have as much packed into the tiny fridge as you can, or at least I did; likewise for my pantry or the drawers that served as a pantry. After I was done there it was back shopping, this time at the mall. I was too wired to really shop and did not get a thing for anyone back home. Luckily I had already bought some small gifts but not many. I had been planning on shopping yesterday but that was out. When done with everything I returned the G-ride back to the lot at work. Another agent gave me a ride back to the hotel and since he was remaining on the temporary assignment I gave him my stash of beer. I figure that was about 8 Heinekens, 10 Coronas, and 12 or more Bud-lights (no I do not drink Budwiper of any sort if I can avoid it; they were left overs from a party). Then it was to bed for me. I hit the hay at about 11:15 PM on Friday night and had to get up at 3:15 AM on Saturday. I slept all of 3 hours and tossed and turned the rest.

At 4:00 AM I was off to the airport in a limo/cab. It was really a Crown Vic. The driver was from Russia so that made me feel closer to NYC than I had for months - there is a large Russian population in Brooklyn. Nice guy and when I tipped him he was happy. Check-in was a breeze. No one from TSA even looked inside my shotgun case. (They did look in my suitcase and I do think a K-Bar knife is missing; I have to do inventory tonight.) My flight departed on time at 6:10 Am, and I flew into Atlanta where I connected to another flight to LaGuardia in NY. Both flights got in early. When I landed I called my son - he had not left home yet to come to get me. I told him to turn on that engine and get rolling. As it turned out, just as I got all of my luggage, he called and said he was waiting outside - perfect timing. Julia, his girlfriend accompanied him as did our Chihuahua Pepe. The ride home was nice as was getting there. My wife actually seemed happy to see me and I was happy to see her. may not last long but take it for what it is worth because I am doing so.

Thankfully she is doing okay - not good - but okay. We go to the doctor tomorrow and that is when I start asking questions about why she was not hospitalized after first being diagnosed with Swine Flu, and then several days later with pneumonia.

So as it turns out - I had no choice to make about whether or not to try to hike up to the top of Mt. Wrightson at Madera Canyon or if I should go back to Tombstone instead to see the Courthouse Museum. Something else decided for me what I should do, and I knew I had better get home quick to make sure the Frau was okay.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Departure Imminent...

...and so I hope it stays that way. As much as I love Tucson and southeastern AZ I know there soon will come a time when I will have to say goodbye and head home. That time is almost upon me. As it turns out I'll be working Friday and Saturday but lucked out and will actually have this Sunday off, and that is a big change. It will be a good change for me for a few reasons. First and foremost, I may have one more chance to try the hike up to the top of Mt. Wrightson in the Madera Canyon area. It would be nice to make it to the top this time, but truth be told just because I will have Sunday off does not mean I will get the chance. I hope though that I will be able to squeeze in the time - I'll let you know.

Having Sunday off also means I will not have to hit the hay too early on Saturday night. I have been going to bed at 9 to 10 PM most Saturdays for the past several weeks, if not for a couple of months, because I have to be up at about 5 AM each day for work. The temptation that comes with having a free Saturday night could be too much to endure; I hear the Sirens' song already and it's calling me to have a cold one or two before I leave town. Of course, there is also the prospect of me going out to Tombstone again before I leave. That would cancel any plans for Madera Canyon and the attempt at a hike to the top of Mt. Wrightson. I have really been wanting to visit the Courthouse Museum in Tombstone, but having had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off for quite the while now that was impossible since the place is closed on those two weekdays. If I do go to Tombstone I can get a few things accomplished - like seeing the museum and doing some last minute gift shopping for folks back home and feeling that special feeling each time I visit the place. Along the lines of gift buying for the folks at home, I have already bought a shipping box to ship some of my gear and clothes back home so I will have room in my luggage for any last minute gifts - and folks almost any gift I will buy will be bought at the last minute, I am a Christmas Eve type of shopper. Still though the lure of a successful climb up the Super Trail at Madera Canyon is also extreme but somehow the lure of visiting a place where the likes of Ed Schieffelin, Bat Masterson, Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and other once lived is also extremely strong. It may all come down to how I feel on Sunday morning- time will tell. Decisions, decisions - I may have to toss a coin.

There are a few other things I would like to do before I leave. One such thing would be for me to visit the Titan Missile silo that is nearby to Madera Canyon; the one open to the public for tours. I might be able to make that after work on Saturday. A stop at the San Xavier Mission on the way back to my hotel might also be in order. I was there already but would like to go again. I also wanted to visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum but the only day left that I could possibly do that would be Sunday. Of course I could combine that with Tombstone as I would have to be at the museum as soon as they open in order to see any of the critters they have there; it is just way too hot once it hits about 10 AM. Again all I can say is: Decisions, decisions - I may have to toss a coin.

Finally there is one other thing I would enjoy doing and that would be to toss back a few cold ones with any of my readers who may live in the Tucson or Phoenix areas. I could possibly make that on Saturday night, or if you are near or will be near Tombstone I could make it on Sunday. I know there are a few of you in this area - so if any of you out there who read this drivel are so inclined - let me know ASAP.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Natural Success Despite Personal Failure

My trip to Madera Canyon, for a hike to the top of Mt. Wrightson was not an utter failure. While I never made it to the top of the mountain, and that indeed was a disappointing failure, I did have success of another sort. While hiking I spotted at least three deer, a few unidentified neat birds (unidentified by me because I know little about birds), 55 lizards, one snake, three deer, a few squirrels and two snails. I also had a vulture almost touch me with its wing tip as it winged by out of the blue and I mean that literally it came within a couple of feet and seemed as surprised to see me as I was it. Apparently it had its mind on some tender rotting morsel down below the trail and I count my lucky stars it was not waiting on me for a meal.

My success is not so much that I saw these animals but that I saw ones that I would venture to guess many other people on the same trail never see. This is especially true of the snails and probably at least one of the lizards I saw. I found the snail while flipping a rock looking for snakes or lizards. I was pretty surprised to find two of them under the same flat bottomed rock, I guess I was surprised because I never expected to find snails in the desert - what with their preference for damp places. These guys were no exception when it came to that preference because the ground under the rock was pretty moist - probably because it was within feet of some rainwater runoff. All were near sources of water, the water having come from the recent Monsoon rains. As for the two snails I did find, it was apparent to me they used the same rock repeatedly after going out to look for whatever it is they eat in that neck of the woods. If you look at the picture closely, you too maybe able to figure out how I came to that conclusion, it has to do with all the other stuff on the rock.

The bigger and better surprise for me was that as I was walking along, I kicked up a lizard that took off into the undergrowth adjacent to the trail. Now that is not at all surprising, heck I saw over 50 lizards just from the trail yesterday without really even having to try to find them - but this lizard was different. You see, most of the lizards I have seen on the trails at Madera Canyon have been either Yarrow's Spiny Lizards or similar species of spiny lizards. There was one Horned Toad I saw a week or so ago and that was a treat, but the one I saw yesterday was totally unexpected. It was some form of a skink. Now I wish I could tell you what type it was but I do not have a clue, I need to do some checking in my field book. I did check online but could not find any pics of a native AZ skink that resembles this one. It was brown in color with darker brown cross bands along its length including its tail. My guess is that it was about 6 to 8 inches long. It was fairly slender and at first I thought it might have been some form of legless lizard or a snake until I saw its legs. Lucky for me I was able to take the camera out of my pocket, turn it on, focus it, press the shutter release, and actually capture a fairly decent photo of it just before it scampered into the undergrowth. I was not about to follow because the slope of the hill just a couple of feet off of the trail at that point, and the looseness of the soil and leaf litter, made it too risky to try it. in addition I was in no mood to be ripped apart by thorns, and just about every plant out here has thorns - mean ones at that. (A check of my field guide revealed this was not a skink but rather an Arizona Alligator Lizard.)

I also got to see one snake, and I also need to check my field guide to identify it. My guess is that it was some sort of Lined Snake or a Garter Snake. Whatever it was, it was fast in disappearing. So, I was not quite as successful in getting its picture as I had been with the skink. As a matter of fact I did get a picture of it, as you can see though just part of it anyhow. It was the first snake I have seen while out hiking. Based on my previous trips to AZ that is an unusual statistic, most times I see more in a shorter period of time but have had little luck on this trip spotting snakes while I was out hiking.

All in all those sightings made the whole day a rather good one for me even though I never achieved reaching the peak of Mt. Wrightson as I had hoped to do.
All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Disappointing failure

Well I went to Madera Canyon to try to hike all the way up to the top of Mt. Wrightson. Once there I had a choice - a 10 point something or other mile round trip up and down a steep trail ranked A or very difficult, or going a couple of miles longer at about 12 point something or other miles up a trail rated C or moderately difficult (the moderate one joined with the difficult one after 4 miles). I chose the latter because I am used to that trail. Well it did not matter, I pooped out at about 4.75 miles up the trail. I just did not have it in me.

I tried to figure out why I could not make it, heck I had been prepping for this hike for awhile now. I imagine some of my failure can be attributed to me still not being used to such high altitudes, I was over 7,500 feet - closer to 8,000, when I gave up. The air is definitely thinner up there and I have only exercised at up to 7,000 feet (the highest point to which i usually hiked) about once every week or two for the past few months. There is also the fact that I hike with a 25 to 30 pound backpack, and maybe just maybe I should have lightened it for the higher altitudes. If I somehow get a chance to go again I may just pack water and a first aid kit. Those extra pounds make a difference. Of course, there is also the fact that I certainly am not in the best of shape. While I have been improving, I guess just not enough for this hike today. I also have not been sleeping all that well and imagine that could have played a part. mostly though I figure it was because I am not in the best of shape.

All in all, whatever the reason(s) for my failure, I know it comes down to me. So I am pretty disappointed whatever the reasons. I really figured I could have mastered it today, or at least gone further, since I had gone farther in the past by about .5 to .75 miles. This was probably my last attempt before I have to go home next week and that is what makes it so disappointing.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Nice Little...

booger surprise awaited me a couple of weeks back when I when hiking at Madera Canyon. I went higher that day than I had previously making it to about 8,200 feet. It was one heck of a hike but still short of the top at just over 9,000 feet - and I only had about 1.7 miles to go at most. oh well, maybe next week - and I had better do it then because that will be my last full week here. But I digress since I wanted to talk about the surprise that awaited me at about 7,200 feet. As I hiked along I heard a rustling in the leaves near my feet. I looked down and their right next to me, almost under me, was this miniature dragon. Despite its tiny size it had horns on its head and sharp spiky spines all over its body much as a dragon of myth and legend would have. Of course I knew that this one was harmless and I took a few pictures of it while it sat there eyeing me, then shot a quick video (which did not come out) as it scampered about the forest floor searching for either a miniature castle to enflame or an ant to devour.

The critter in question is, of course, a Horned Lizard; but of what species I did not know. A quick check of my field guide revealed that it was a Mountain Short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi hernandesi). They can grow to a length of 5 7/8 inches and I wish I had measured this one because I think it may have been close to or surpassed that measurement (well maybe that was just the altitude affecting my senses because I am sure it was smaller than that). No big deal though, not like I'd win a trophy or fame because I found the biggest one. Well anyway, these lizards are pretty neat little creatures. They are found from from Canada down into Mexico (this one and its related subspecies) in all of the states west of Texas (Texas excluded) and in all of the states north of Texas. A distinguishing characteristic of this species is the wide notch in the rear of the skull where the horns are absent. Of course, they get the "horned" part of their name from the horns that adorn their heads. They are out and about during the day and enjoy basking in the warmth of the sun. Apparently this guy was no exception and probably had been right out either on the edge of the leaves or in the middle of the trail when I disturbed it sending it into the leaf litter. This was a pretty healthy looking specimen and I suppose it had been getting its fill of ant and other insects. Unlike some species of horned lizards this one has a varied diet that goes beyond just ants. Along with ants it has also been known to eat a variety of other insects, bugs, snails and so on. My field guide even said they have been know to eat small snakes and I suppose that is possible given the small size of some snake species in the area but my guess is that would be the exception to the rule since they seemed built more for tackling bugs and such.

This was the first live Horned Lizard, of any species, that I have seen in the wild in over 10 years as I recall. They are not as abundant as they once had been but I don't recall them ever being truly abundant at that. So I left this little booger right where it was on the forest floor enjoying the fresh mountain air and bright sunshine and I was on my way.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Trout - Anyone?

Last weekend, Tuesday and Wednesday for me, I finally decided to drive up onto Mt. Lemon. I have heard so much about while here on this and other trips that I figured I had best finally take a look. I was not disappointed if only because the scenery was great, better than the shot at left but my camera was not at its best on the way down (operator error actually). The trip is well worth the 45 minute or hour's drive from various spots in northern Tucson to get there. You wind up driving from about 2,500 feet down in the city, up to just over 8,000 feet and you go from out and out desert to places like the lake and pine forests.. Getting there is all the fun what with some really great rock formations along the way, and some really great views of the valleys below on either side of the mountain. At one point you are actually riding along a ridge where you can see down to the bottom of the mountain at one spot on one side and then several feet away see down to the bottom on another side, that was pretty impressive.

When I drove up there I had two things in mind more so than the scenery. First of all I was about half ready to go on a hike. I had all my gear ready but as for myself, well I was pooped from poor sleep. I also had it in mind to do some trout fishing at Rose lake. As I drove up to the pay station/entrance I just drove around it because I had a parking permit for this national forest. I continued my drive to the top and a little beyond and stayed impressed with the scenery and with the newly rebuilt town of Summerhaven (burned down some years back). Nice quaint little village with high priced tourist trap shops as you would expect, but all those working in the shops were nice. After that I turned around and decided to try fishing at Rose Lake.

There were probably about 20 or so folks from very young to a fair bit older than me trying their luck. The quarry it seemed were stocked Rainbow Trout in what seemed to me to be no more than a 15 acre lake. I walked around the far side of the lake about 2/3 of the way to the small dam that formed it, and found a nice log on which to park my posterior. Then I got down to fishing. I set it all up with a bottom rig for a worm, then realized I had left the worms in the car. Oh well - it would be artificials for the day. I tried everything I had which was not much. I sure did not travel to AZ ready to go trout fishing (or any other type of fishing for that matter). What I had with me I had purchased since getting here, actually once Brendan had come out for his visit. Finally after about 2 hours or so of casting artificial salamanders, worms, spoons, crankbaits and spinners I latched onto a fish. I could tell right away it was bigger than the ones I had seen other catch. Yes that means other folks were catching them - some were reeling them in left and right - and of course, they were using trout worms as bait. Oh well, I finally had one and it was on a spinner bait I had bought when Brendan was here or just before he arrived. The feisty little booger trout was all of 12 inches, and looked like a whopper compared to some others I had seen float by belly up after people released fish that had swallowed too small hooks. Mine I would keep, I mean there was at least an appetizer.

Had some of those released trout that floated by me, and there were at least 3 or 4, still been flailing their gills and floundering about as they floated by I would have scooped em up to add to the larder. What a waste of a good fish. Not too small to keep legally, and an excellent size for the pan (which is why some fish are called panfish), and delicious at that. Of course, usually I throw small ones back to grow big, but not ones that I know will not survive. Some people think that such little fish are worthless and just throw em back and do not care that all they will do is foul up the water or become dinner for crayfish. The thing is that once you pull out their insides to dislodge a hook they are goners. Shame on the knuckleheads who released fish injured so badly they had no chance of survival. Better in the pan than being wasted like that.
By the way, if you think that fish looks pretty scraggly, well yes it does. I suppose that some crayfish went to work on it when I had it on the stringer in the lake. It really had a tail fin and looked a whole lot prettier when I caught it. pretty meant nothing though when compared to how it tasted when I ate it. As it turned out, I went back to my motel with just the one I had caught. I had it all cleaned up (just gutted is all) at the lake before I left, so when i got back to the ranch I put it in a plastic bag and popped it into the fridge. After a couple of days I remembered it was in there, gave it a whiff, and decided to throw it out into the microwave for a few minutes on each side. It was ever so scrumptious cooked with no additions at all - no spices, no sauce, no salt, nothing. It was great as it came out of the water except for gutting and cooking. Mmmmmmm-goooood.
All the best,
GB

No Entrants

Not one person sent in an entry for the contest I ran on June 24th. So I guess that is good for me because I don't have to purchase the rifle case and send it to anyone, bad for me in that it drew no interest. If you want to know the answer to the contest question - it was Jaws.

All the best,
GB

That Sunlight Can Be Beautiful, Tricky Too

Maybe the the nicest pic of the sunlight playing with the clouds not long before a sunset over the Sonoran Desert but yet an interesting one. Why interesting, well that takes a good look on your part to figure out. I am not one who believes in miracles or divine intervention yet I suppose some may enlarge this picture and think that such has come into play here. Me I think it a nice and curiously coincidental photograph, one in which I see a mans face on the right looking at something else - not as clear as the face- on the left maybe a ram's head with a flaming spearhead under it. Click to enlarge and maybe you will get my drift; or maybe my imagination is simply overactive lately. Too much time in the sun as some would say.



As for the second picture - what can I say. I was pretty near breathless watching the sunset last night. Those Monsoon rains with all the water filled clouds and moist skies sure do pretty things to the sunlight.



All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

No I have not forgotten what day is today, nor have I forgotten to make sure to wish you my readers a happy one. Yes it comes a little late in the day, but I worked 11 hours plus today. Not moaning and groaning, just letting you know why this is tardy.

While I am at it, allow me to tell you something about the folks I wished happy Independence Day, or happy 4th of July to here in the Tucson area yesterday and today. Not one - except for my coworkers and a barmaid at my hotel - greeted me back likewise. In fact a young lady working at a burger joint in South Tucson looked at me quizzically then sneered at me after I wished her a Happy Independence day yesterday. Then this morning, at an overpriced snooty coffee shop that is in business nationwide, when I wished the counter clerk a happy independence day, his response was: "Ha-Hah"! I wish I could relay to you the sarcasm and nastiness that was in that simple little reply to me as he rolled his eyes in the true fashion of what I believe to be an ultra-liberal jerk-off. Other folks just looked at me as if I had two, maybe even three, heads when I wished them likewise.

I do not get it - I thought Tucson and Arizona in general were bastions of freedom loving Americans. now I am none to sure of that. To tell you the truth I was absolutely flabbergasted at the responses or lack of them I got when I wished folks a Happy Independence day or Happy 4th. Even in New York City I would have gotten more enthusiastic and patriotic replies than I did here - many more. As a matter of fact, besides the lack of reciprocal patriotic well wishes for this great day I noticed a few other differences between out here and the rotten apple. In NYC and the surrounding areas you likely would see lots of American Flags flying today, and you would likely hear a good amount of fireworks going off all throughout the day. There was absolutely none of that in area of Tucson, South Tucson or Phoenix that I visited today. Now I am sure there will be some fireworks tonight - those permitted by the government - but what about regular Joes and Janes celebrating the fourth as it has been for over 200 years - with a bang. Heck it is INDEPENDENCE DAY - you would think that if only on this day the citizens would be allowed to show some independence from the government control, wouldn't you! Just does not seem to happen out this way. What a shame - I miss it!

All the best,
Glenn B

How To Spend A Boring Day on Surveillance

Sometimes when a law enforcement officer is out on surveillance things can be just a little boring. I mean what with hours of sitting in a fixed location just waiting for something to happen. Other times, well they can be very boring indeed because nothing at all does happen. It is at times like these that the ever vigilant law enforcement officer may start watching things other than what he is supposed to be watching and thereby amuse himself. Sometimes he even gets a little squirrely from all the boredom and instigates some action to surveill - and that is when things get nutty. Take for instance the following photo essay on what I imagine is a common ground squirrel in the Tucson area:
















Alert - Alert - Here comes trouble - head for the burrows fast...
















Hey - wait a minute, what is it that that guy has in the bag; he's throwing some this way.
















Wow, it looks like some sort of nut and sure smells pretty good but sure not like any nuts from around here. Should I take a bite?













I don't know if I can trust that guy - he looks like a New Yorker; then again pickings have been pretty slim around here lately. Oh what the heck - you only live once.
















Wow - this is pretty good, what do you call these things?
















Hey - where did all the nuts go?













Ah come on back Mister - we didn't mean nothin' by sayin you wuz frum NY.

**********

Now - of course - none of this really happened while any law enforcement officer was out on surveillance - these pictures were taken during my free time - but it is the kind of thing that could happen if one was driven to boredom on a nutty surveillance.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Miniature Rival Of Sunset...

...is not something I see every day but I did see just that two days ago while I was working, and I saw it in the middle of the day. I do not know what it is called, I am not a botanist, nor a florist, but I can tell you it was absolutely beautiful - a real eye catcher. Yet despite that, I have never seen one other person stop to look at them here in Tucson - I suppose they are a common sight whatever they are. For me though, I stopped right in an intersection and took a bunch of pics of these fantastic little flowers that were growing right out of the middle of a traffic circle. Amazing how no one seems to pay them any mind. Like I said in my last post, we all ought to take the time to smell the roses (or whatever these are) because they are one of life's little rewards. If anyone knows what type of flowers are these please let me know by way of the comments section. Thanks.

All the best,
Glenn B