Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ballseyes Gun Shots 100 - Window Shopping For A New Rifle Again - This Time A Remington 700 SPS Varmint

As you are probably aware, if you read this blog regularly, I have been dreaming thinking of buying a new bolt action rifle in .308 caliber for quite some time now. To that end I have been doing what my son did to buy his rifles, I have been saving my change. I probably have about $200 saved up; not enough to buy a decent rifle but almost since I can pick up a Marlin XL7 in 30/06 or an XLS in .308 for about $365 out the door. I am none too certain that is the rifle I will buy, that somewhat depends on how patient I can be in the change collection department.

Of course, as I have been saving, I also have still been looking at other rifles. Seeing some of them has made me reconsider which one I want to buy being that there are so many fine choices out there. Just a few days ago, I received a sales brochure from Dick's Sporting Goods. While they do not have those Marlins on sale, they do advertise a few other rifles in which I have been interested. They are offering a scoped Savage 111 and a scoped Savage Edge for $399.99 each and the brochure contains a $50 off coupon for a purchase of $250 or more on hunting gear. I imagine the rifles qualify. Now depending on which model of Savage 111 is on sale it may or may not have the Accu-trigger. if I were to buy a Savage I would insist on the adjustable Accu-trigger. I do not know if the Savage Edge is/was offered with said trigger. In fact, the Edge has either been discontinued or renamed the Axis Series. Checking the Dick's website, I noticed that their weekly circular is offering both of these for $349.99. If that coupon in my sales brochure is good on them, that means I could pick one up for $299.99 plus tax. Sounds like a good deal.

What might be a better deal is that Dick's also is offering a Remington 700 Varmint. That is exactly what they are calling it. It almost appears as if it does not have a hinged floorplate which makes me think it is not the SPS but Remington does not show a varmint model on their website without the floorplate. So I am not sure if it is the SPS model or some lower end one made for Dick's by Remington. If it is an SPS model it is a very good deal at only $499.99 and a better deal with that $50 off coupon. This one is not in the weekly circular. I was not able to get to Dick's today to actually look at one but hope to before the sale ends. if it is an SPS model and if they take that $50 off coupon, well then I am going to jump on it even if I don't have nearly enough change saved up. Why? Because Remington is offering a $100 rebate on them.

Another reason for wanting one of the Remington 700 models is because it can shoot .75" groups at 100 yards right out of the box on scoped models (which this sale model is one). The model 700 is one of the most inherently accurate rifles out there, and as I understand they are the most utilized rifle by police snipers in the USA. Besides that they are not all that expensive even at the high end. Some go as high as about $1,200 or so but since they can also be had in models as inexpensive as about $449 they are a great deal for such an accurate rifle. Looking at one of these at the right price would totally make me forget about the marlin XL7 or XS7, well at least for awhile.

So you can be pretty sure that sometime this week, I am going to take a drive to one of my local Dick's Sporting Good stores to check out one of the Remingtons. I am not keeping my hopes very high that this varmint model will be an SPS because Dick's also has a Remington SPS Bone Collector advertised for $699.99 in the same brochure. Apparently only checking in person will tell since when I called Dick's earlier today, the guy in the hunting department had no clue if it was a varmint model other than an SPS. Of course, since the ad says the regular price was $649.99 and that is just under but very close to the MSRP, it could be the SPS Varmint. If they have it in .308 or if they can order it for me, then you can consider it sold - to me!

Some specs on the
Remington SPS Varmint model are as follow:

SPS Varmint stock with vented beavertail fore-end

Sling swivel studs included

26" heavy-contour barrel (0.820" muzzle O.D.)

Legendary Model 700™ action

Drilled and tapped for scope mounts

Hinged Floorplate

And this one comes with a mounted and boresighted 3x9 scope. It would probably be too good to be true that this could actually be a SPS model and not a lower end model dolled up with some but not all of the SPS varmint features model and made specifically for Dick's by Remington. As I said though, I'll have to go to Dick's to check it out in person. I would hate to miss out on this deal if it actually is the SPS model.

If you would like to read a review of the Remington SPS Varmint click on this link:

http://www.snipercentral.com/remspsv.htm

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Soldiers' Holiday Care Package #2 In The Works

Costco was a madhouse this evening. People have so few friggin manners and common courtesy is so foreign to most it has become uncommon courtesy. I was almost at the boiling over point by the time I got done shopping for a whopping total of only about 6 items (5 for the package and one personal purchase). I guess people just don't understand anymore that someone exhibiting good manners is no excuse for them to use bad manners. It is absolutely amazing just how many people are rude, obnoxious, ill mannered assholes types nowadays but I survived and care package #2 is in the works.

I was able to finesse my way through the shoving, bumping into, cutting off, hurried crowds and actually keep my temper under control despite them to get the shopping done. Next time I go on a weekday, I hope! Purchases I made were few but should be well liked by the soldiers when they receive them I picked up a box of 100 Slim Jims, a 30 count box of Funbites (a berry flavored all natural candy), a 10 pack of Hi-Chews (another fruit flavored candy), and a 40 pack of Doublemint chewing gum (not 40 sticks of gum but 40 packs of gum with 5 sticks each). Oh, and before I forget I also got them a box of Bicycle playing cards containing a dozen decks of cards. All that stuff for the care package went for just over $52.00. It will probably take me until next weekend to pick up a few more items for the package and then to get it all boxed and shipped out.


If you have not alrready donated and can spare something, a donation toward the Soldiers' Holiday care packages would be appreciated. Remember these young men and women are in harm's way to prtoect us and our freedoms; they can use whatever we can send them.

All the best,
Glenn B

Soldiers' Holiday Care Package #1 Away

I never got around to sending off the first Soldiers' Holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas/Chanuka) Care Package off earlier this week as I had planned although, I did get it mailed out today. As I posted earlier in the week, it contained a box of tootsie Roll Pops, a box of Chewy granola type bars, a box of assorted Hershey's chocolate bars, a package of AA Duracell batteries (I think a 36 count), and a three pack of Merino wool socks. It will make some soldiers happy, I am sure of that.

The cost of everything in the package was $57, my initial donation The cost of shipping was $17.35, including insurance. That is a total of $74.35. That was all out of my own pocket, money from donations will be used starting on the second package. The reason only my money went toward the first package was because I went shopping before I had any donations; still the box had a note in it letting the soldiers know this is a team effort on the part of me and my blog readers. Right now, we have another $110 or so in the fund from donations for future packages. I will throw in another $20 or $25 toward the next package and that means we have about $135 on hand for the next package or two. As usual I will also be throwing in shipping out of my pocket. This is not to try to convey that I am doing anything grand but rather to give you all a complete accounting of the money being spent on the care packages so you know exactly where your money is going. Receipts for the shipment are pictured in this post. I will make similar postings with each package sent.

You know, for the most part, I do this around the Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanuka, and New Year season. I continue after that but on my own without asking for donations passed the holidays. When the soldier comes home, I wait until a couple of months before the next holiday and ask that a new soldier be assigned to me from Soldiers' Angels. In case you are wondering about my doing this, here is some background. It is the 4th year that I have been doing it and the 4th soldier to whom I have been assigned, by Soldiers' Angels, to send packages, emails and the like. I started asking for donations for a holiday care package fund back in 2007; I may have sent packages to another soldier before that by way of soldiers angels but I think my first soldier, who was assigned to me in the spring of that year, was the same one to whom we sent our first team effort packages for which I collected donations back then. Now that you know how long I have been doing it, you may also be wondering why I do it. I was never in the military. It is one of the regrets of a lifetime for me. I went right into college at or very near the end of the war in Vietnam. I was not dodging the draft, I fully intended to join up should the war still be going on when I hit 18 bit it was all but over by then and college seemed the smart thing to do. Right after college I went into the federal civil service in LE. I did not think much of the military until I was in my young 30s. Reagan was president, small wars were taking place, terrorism was hitting us hard, and it seemed larger wars were brewing. So, I tried joining the military reserves when I was about 32 or 33. They would not have me because of my age and because I had a back injury that required surgery only a year before my attempt at joining up. He who hesitates is lost for sure and my opportunity to serve in the military was lost because of my hesitation. I continued my civil service as an LEO.

Despite my not having served in the U.S. military, I have great respect for our troops who do serve. I know how tough it can be to serve away from home because of numerous details to which I have been assigned, to fight for your life against bad guys, to be so scared you almost crap in your pants because of an assignment that was terrifying, to have the nightmares that come with having shot someone, and I have seen the devastation of war first hand at the World Trade Center or what remained of it and have been traumatized by it. I know all that but only on an intermittent basis and only have seen any of it a few to several times in my life, I have only seen a very small sampling indeed. I have never seen it each and every day as do many of our young men and women who serve in our military. I can only imagine what it must be like for them to be so far from home, for so long, in hostile lands, surrounded and in the midst of the destruction of war. That is all while most Americans seem to have forgotten that we are a nation at war with an enemy who wants to destroy us and who are doing their best to destroy our troops. I have not forgotten and I am simply trying to do something to help make it easier for some soldiers who are protecting us and our freedoms. I am trying to give them a little happiness and make life a little easier for them with each box that we send them.

Thankfully, some of you, my wonderful readers, have not forgotten either. I have received a good amount of donations from you each time that I have made the effort to put these packages together. Sometimes I wonder why I put up with all the bullshit involved in getting these packages together, sometimes just letting a soldier know we care does not seem worth it what with the asking almost begging for donations, shopping for items, buying shipping boxes and tape, getting the items all packed and packed well at that, making out the customs forms and the insurance forms and the mailing labels, redoing the customs forms because the postal clerk tells me I need to use a different form (this happens almost every time I go to the post office regardless of which form of two available I hand them they always want the other one), then accounting for everything here in my blog so you can see your money was well spent on items for the packages. And I do that several times each year just before and during the holiday season. Then I see something on TV or on the net about some soldiers who were killed, or about a guy with only half an arm, or without legs (or worse) or I see something about babies being blown up by terrorists scumbags, and I remember why I do it. Then I just decide to get it done.

There is also something else that makes getting it done a lot easier. That is people like you, people who show good will toward out troops and who make donations. I would still do this without the money you send me but I can tell you that without a doubt the packages we send would be nowhere nearly as nice as they are because of your generosity. You folks are the greatest, you really are, I mean that. Some of you are vets, some not, some are conservatives, some may be liberals (I don't figure too many liberals read my blog though), and all of you are Americans who care about our troops and who want to help make it easier for them. You guys help make it easier for me too, without your showing of support I would probably have a much harder time at this. You guys boost my morale quite a bit and that helps me get the job done. Thank you.

Enough of my babbling, I have shopping to do for the next package or two. I am probably off to Costco and maybe Walmart and maybe Dick's Sporting Goods to to see what I can get to go in those packages. Of course, when I send them, they will also contain a note about the team effort we are making and that will express to the soldiers that without your help, this would not be getting done near the scale at which we are accomplishing it. Thanks again.

All the best,
Glenn B

PS: The soldier's first initial is M and he is at an FOB. I am not at liberty to divulge more without his permission. I have sent him an email asking for his permission to give some more information but he has not answered it yet. I will try another email soon. Hopefully all is well with him.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bloggers Money Making Opportunities - Are They For Real

Money is tight and times are hard for lots of Americans. Many are out of work, others have had their hours cut back, some are on restricted incomes or budgets. The great stock market boom of just a few years ago, under the Bush Administration (can you imagine that it was going quite well under him for a good long time of his 8 years). People seemed much better off then. They had lots of money to spend or so it seemed. Many had money in stocks and bonds, and many were earning more and more in dividends almost daily at skyrocketing rates. They thought they were feasting on the fattened cow and they spent like there was no tomorrow. They bought extravagant homes, gas guzzling SUV's, and just about everything on which they could spend money and adorned themselves with just about every bauble they could find. At the time, I played it very conservatively, I bought a brand new Toyota in 2005 for cash (still have it) to replace my then 16 year old Mazda 323 which we also had bought for cash. Both were economy cars and we also had a 1996 Ford Taurus that was bought for cash between the Mazda and Toyota - nothing fancy but we truly need 2 cars. I paid my bills on time (all of them), paid off my mortgage (it has been paid off in full 2 years this December), lived fairly modestly yet had a good time on mostly inexpensive vacations, and managed to save enough money between 2005 and 2010 to buy another new car for cash. Granted it was only a Hyundai Elantra Touring but it replaced out aging 1996 Ford Taurus and as I said we paid cash (except for a $500 deposit on my credit card but that too was paid up promptly).

Since the Hyundai was paid for in cash, it depleted our bank accounts once again and we have very little in them right now. The thing is this time around I will not have my job long enough to replenish them over the next 5 years or so since I face mandatory retirement within 2 years and will probably retire next year. Still though - the accounts are growing slowly but surely even though we keep paying our expenses and paying them in a timely manner each month. While the mortgage is out of the way, we still have college tuition and books for my son, higher auto insuranc, sky high heating oil prices, all the other regular expenses and I just paid off quite a bit of co-payments and deductibles for a medical issue. I am not complaining though because for the first time in a very long time I am considered to be making much more money than the average American; I am not gloating either. That was not true 15 years ago, then my salary was considered substandard compared to the private sector and even to others in my general line of work in civil service. Ten years ago it was pretty much the same but had improved some. A few years after that I was considered fairly well off. Others at my job thought I was nuts because I was not putting a lot of money in my Thrift Savings Plan at work, in fact for the great majority of my career I did not put any money into it or into additional voluntary retirement contributions (something other than but slightly similar to the TSP). Many of my coworkers had put in the maximum they could contribute. I being under the old civil service retirement plan could put in up to a certain percentage to the TSP. Others in the newer federal retirement plan could put in a higher amount and have a certain percentage matched by the government and they put in as much as they could. Who could blame them - it seemed like easy money. They raved about it, they raved about the option of placing their money into stocks in the TSP. Then the bottom started to fall out and they moaned and groaned. When it got worse there was gnashing of teeth. Then they pissed and whined as their funds in the TSP dwindled by tens of thousands in some instances. Me, I put in some money, but when others had well over a hundred or even two hundred thousand dollars invested, I had about 35K. Right now, I still have almost all of that plus a good deal more but still nowhere near 100K. I kept the great majority of mine in the fund made up of government securities - I played it safe with most of what I had deposited. I also had some in the higher risk stock option and have lost maybe a couple thousand dollars while others lost tens of thousands.


I am still playing it fairly safe. Playing it safe has been good for me because even though I do not have anywhere as much money put away for retirement as I should have, I have no mortgage. I think I may regret it though, that playing it safe, when and if the federal government reduces my future pension and I believe that is coming the way we are going. What I will not regret is having bought a way too expensive home on fantasy money that I never saw in my hands that was only in volatile stock accounts, nor will I regret losing tens of thousands of that same money when the markets dive bombed, nor will I regret having bought a gas guzzling monster that I could not fill with gas and could not sell when gasoline prices went through the roof as they are doing again. Regular is $3.03 to $3.21 up my way, it was $2.78 about a month or month and a half ago. Will the media bash Bush, err I mean Obama for it like they did Bush? Heck no. Nope I played it safe and was fiscally conservative - maybe too much so - who knows. But the mortgage is paid off and right now I have a job and an excellent salary (well for most of the country and even a pretty good one for the NYC metro area) and I m not complaining although I sometimes wonder how else I can earn some spare ka-ching since my financial future in retirement looks shaky at best unless we somehow actual have an economic recovery.

For all that playing it conservatively, I am left almost totally dependent on my current salary and that of my wife to make it. If we get hit with a major repair on my home we will have to take a loan. I am also depending on the hope my pension will be there for me throughout my retirement years once I pull the plug (next year sometime). So, when seemingly safe money making opportunities come along they are fairly tempting. I don't mean getting a second job. I do not have the time for a second job, at least not one outside my home, not with my current job and my usual 2 1/2 to 3 hours daily commute time. What I do mean are offers to make money for doing something I like and being able to do it at home. Four times now, within the past couple or few weeks, I have been offered the chance to earn money by way of y blog. These have all been made by different entities or people, all seemingly independent of one another. One person offered my $35 outright just to link to his website that is a gun auction/sales site. I declined the offer but linked to not only his gun auction site but also to his webpage and blog and I did it gratis. Why, who knows! Now thirty five bucks may not seem like much to someone making a decent living but I would bet many others who are hurting would have jumped on it. Maybe I should taken it and put it in my bank account but I did not.

I was also offered at least two other money making opportunities of unspecified amounts should I link to commercial sites (by way of placing their advertisements on my blog) that dealt with firearms and outdoor sports products (like hunting & fishing gear). I again declined but this time, because they were seeking to place actual advertisements on my site, I did not place any links or ads for them on my blog site. Yet another person/entity contacted me offering me money to write pieces for another blog type site. Again, I declined each offer. All were tempting and maybe, if I got and took enough such offers, I could start making a tidy little sum on the side but I suppose I already pay Uncle Sam and NY State enough income taxes and don't need to add to that.

Of course, I have a lot of links on the right hand side of my blog. Most are to other bloggers, some of which I read and enjoy with great interest on a regular basis as in almost daily, some I read weekly, others of which I enjoy but only read as few times as once or twice monthly, and others I almost never read because I cannot stand them for one reason or another. Those last ones, I just mentioned, I link to because they blog about some common interest between the other bloggers, myself and my readers like firearms. I figure they have the same interests so in the event my readers might find them more interesting than do I, I link to them. I figure, even if we do not find one another interesting or all that much to our liking, we can still support one another as bloggers who are freedom lovers, or firearms enthusiasts, or patriotic Americans. I figure supporting one another with links to be a good thing for all of us with like interests. Too bad most others do not seem to think that way, just look at how many people on my blog-roll list link back to me - a paltry amount compared to all those to whom I link, but thems is the breaks.

As for other links on the right side of my blog, some are reference types such as those to news agencies, field manuals, libraries, or historical sites. Others are links for blogs and websites geared toward noncommercial but specific interests such as firearms (the great majority), reptiles & amphibians, hiking, fishing, hunting and so on. These would include links to firearms forums, herpetological societies and so on. Yet other links, and there are a good number of them, are to commercial websites such as online firearms manufacturers, firearms dealers, shooting ranges, sporting good dealers, gun parts suppliers, and organizations which support gun rights. I have also blogged quite a lot about firearms related products, and also mentioned, with a fair amount of frequency, commercial businesses in my blogs. I do not and have never sought out, solicited, accepted even one penny or any other type of recompense from any commercial entity in return for placing an ad or link on my site or for blogging about them.


So am I being foolish? Should I be seeking to make money by way of being paid to place links and or advertising on my blog or by my blogging or writing articles for others for pay? I don't know. I see plenty of other bloggers trying to bring in a few dollars here and there by placing a donations icons on their sites. They usually call them tip jars or something like that. I see that as little different than begging and I know for a fact some of them are quite well to do with decent jobs and incomes and I find that unappealing for myself. I do have a donations icon up right now but that is very different, that is for donations for soldiers' care packages. I don't think I ever have asked anyone to donate funds to me to be used for me. I hope I never have to resort to that. I see other bloggers, many of them, have also taken to placing commercial ads on their sites and some talk about receiving money for testing products or blogging about them. I wonder, am I missing out on something good? Should I be taking advantage of the fact that people have been seeking me out and offering money or is it all not worth it? It would be well worth it to me if I could earn enough in a year to buy a quality rifle or three but somehow I doubt the income would be there.

If you have any first hand info on this, I would like to get some feedback from you to find out if I have been missing out on he cash cow or just shouldn't even waste my time thinking about it because it is not as good as it seems it could be.

Thanks,
Glenn B

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not Just Another Reptile Shop

I was down in Florida back in early September and it was raining and coming down hard on my last morning in sunny West Palm Beach. I almost cancelled my plans for a drive down to Deerfield Beach but as suddenly as the rain had begun it ended. That sealed it, and I was on the road before the rain could start again and get me to change my mind. The ride was a fairly short one, about 33 miles, maybe 35 or 40 minutes and yes there was more rain along the way but nothing like it had been raining before I left my aunt and uncle’s home in WPB.

When I arrived in Deerfield Beach, the roads were wet and the parking lots were flooded. I knew about the parking lots because I made two wrong turns and had to turn around in them to get going right. I was pretty surprised, some spots in the lots had about 5 or 6 inches of water in them. That did not deter me though, I only had a mile or so to go to reach my destination. Once I was oriented in the right direction, I was there in a few minutes.

The there I am talking about was
Ben Siegel Reptiles on Hillsboro Boulevard. The shop is in a new location a bit further west along Hillsboro than it used to be. One of the turn offs made into one of those flooded parking lots had been at the old location. Like that other parking lot, the one at the new location was also flooded. I guess they had gotten the same rain that had hit further north in WPB that morning. Luckily, I found a parking spot right in front of the store and it was relatively high and dry. As I walked up to the front door of the store, I could see it all looked pretty new. They did not have a real sign, instead they had a banner saying: Reptiles (or was it Reptile Store - whichever, you get the idea). They had another sign too, this one on the inside of the front door. It said CLOSED. I tried the door it was locked.

I peered inside and saw all he lights were on. I did not see anyone in there though. I was pretty disappointed especially since I had checked their hours and they were supposed t be open at that time. I was just starting to walk away when two other folks walked up, paying no attention to the CLOSED sign and just opened the other of the two doors and walked in. I followed after them, then saw a clerk in the back and asked if they were open for business and he said ‘We sure are”. I told him about the sign and he fixed it. I took a look around the store.

Once inside, I noted the store is a small to medium sized shop. It was clean at first glance and that is always a plus in any type of store but especially in one that deals in animals. I looked at the various reptiles and amphibians in each enclosure and I noticed that not only was the store itself clean, so too were the herp enclosures. As I was walking around looking at the Veiled Chameleons, the Ball Pythons, various Corn Snakes, Northern Pine Snake, Dione’s Rat Snake, Chrondos, Black Headed Python, Bearded Dragons, Black Throated Monitors, single Green Iguana, Mantella frogs, Cuban Tree Frogs, and others - a lady came in and started to question the clerk as to what he was doing. He pulled out what I think was a checklist of his duties and started reading off what he had done, what needed yet to be done and what he was doing. I was pretty impressed by this guy - he seemed to be doing a really good job of cleaning up the store right after it had opened for the day. By the way, they opened at 1100 and it was probably about 1130 or noon at the latest when I arrived. His list included things such as check animals, clean enclosures, do a mite check and on and on. All good signs that this place will remain clean and therefore be more likely to be selling healthy herps.

While I shopped around, he asked me a couple of times if I could use any help. Not pushy at all, just trying to make sure the customer was okay. I told him I was still shopping around and he left it at that the second time. Some of the animals I saw in the shop were on the impressive side. For example, the Black headed Python, while still a juvenile, was pretty nice looking even if it was gong for $900 (which is probably the going price). They also had some excellent Womas and they were going for a mere $250, which is pretty low for Womas Pythons though I will admit their prices have come down over the past couple of years. Some of the Green tree Pythons were also excellent specimens and also had reasonable retail prices. Translucent Veiled Chameleons were also noteworthy. They had normal coloration on most of their bodies but their legs were a pale, almost translucent pink. I imagine if enough light were coming from behind the legs, you would see some of it shine through them. Of course the shop also sol animals with more down to earth prices for us poorer or tighter herpers like those I mentioned above.

All in all I was pretty impressed with the store, just about the same as I have been the few times I have dealt with Ben Siegel Reptiles online. All in all, I have to say, they are not just another reptile and amphibian shop, they truly seem to be a top notch reptile and amphibian dealer. I would not hesitate to deal with them in the future. Nope, no purchases while I was there but if they would have had any of the
Bumblebee Toads they had recently, well I would have been sorely tempted to bring home something new for my collection.

All the best,
Glenn B

First Soldiers' Holiday Care Package

The first Soldiers' Holiday care package probably will get mailed out today or tomorrow. I had planned to do it over this past weekend but got busy with other stuff early Saturday and the Post Office was closed by the time I got back home. These are the items I bought before receiving any donations, if I remember right they cost about $56.00. I am still in the process of shopping for more things with the money I have received in donations. To date I have received $110.46 after PayPal took its cut from the $115.00 of total donations that were sent to my account. So, $110.46 is what I have to use for the next package or two plus whatever else I throw in of my own and I always do that. As usual, I also am paying all shipping costs out of my own pocket.

Hopefully I will get to do some shopping this week but if not I'll do it on this coming weekend. I get a lot of the items for the care packages at Costco. It is a good place for price and for buying items that come in packages that are family sized. That way there is usually plenty to go around when the troops open the box.

As you can see in the photo, most of the items are family sized. There is a box of Tootsie Roll Pops, a Hershey's Variety Pack, a Quaker Chewy Variety Pack, a 36 pack of Duracell AA batteries, and a three pack of wool blend socks. I figure the chocolate bars are okay at this time of the year because it is getting cold and they probably won't melt in transit; hope I am right. Everything else will be fine for sure and I am sure all will be appreciated.

Some of the other things I plan to put in future care packages are more wool blend socks, other snack items, toiletry items, reading material, some folding knives for my assigned soldier's unit, and any special request items (within reason and budget) that my soldier or his unit ask us to send to them. I will keep you all advised as I go along.

Before I close let me send out some thanks to those who have donated so far:

Al S.
James R.
Aaron S.
Michael S.

You gentlemen are the greatest.

As I have said before, if you want to donate don't be bashful. You don't need to donate a lot to make a difference. Whatever you can spare goes to help put a smile on some soldiers' faces. If you want to donate, there is a PayPal link on the upper right side of my blog in the red field. All money I receive, after PayPal takes their fee, goes toward the purchase of contents for the care packages, I pay all shipping costs out of my own pocket. Thanks again.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh My Achin' Back...

...but why should I bother you with all the boring but painful details. Let it suffice to say that it ached last night and got about twice as painful today equaling about ouch times ten.

All the best,
GB

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gone For Well Over 7 Years Now...

...he passed on to another world on September 12, 2003, just under 4 months after he lost his beloved wife June Carter-Cash. I miss his gravel filled deep voice, his words, his story filled songs and the tough yet sometimes tender style of his ballads. His songs and ballads were set to a new style of country music, that which was fit for the country boy or gal in us all even if we were from the big city. His music always meant a lot to me as I know it did for others. Two of his best songs are below (there are many others just or almost as good), and so is one of his best collaborations with three other country singers (of the 4 only 2 are still with us).

Hopefully, somehow, he still does remain and he will be back again and again and again even if no other way than to remain in our hearts and to be passed on to our children and then onto theirs. That could keep him alive forever. Who knows, maybe someday, someone on a starship may listen to Johnny Cash as that someone travels across the universe divide to the far side of it all, or maybe someone will listen to Johnny Cash on a far away planet just as a falling drop of rain catches his eye. I know my son Brendan loves his music, I hope his children someday will do likewise. Maybe it will be one of them who will travel the universe in that starship to see that raindrop. Johnny Cash's music being passed from one generation to the next has got him started on the road to immortality. Pass him on down through the ages, don't let Johnny Cash be forgotten.



Johnny Cash - Hurt from kakofoni on Vimeo.




Hope you enjoyed the music.

I WONDER, HAS HE MADE IT ACROSS THE UNIVERSE DIVIDE?

I'd bet he has indeed.

All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 99 - Man With Guns, Man On A Mission - Mission Accomplished - Three New Shooters Among Our Ranks

Today, I got it right. After our failed attempt yesterday, my friend Dom and I met up at the range. Sadly, Brendan did not make it. Normally, he would not have made it on a Sunday because he works on Sundays, but today he had a double whammy and he was in bed sick all day. Still up there now snoring away. Well anyway, Dom and I got together and Dom brought along two of his sons, Matt 16 and Dom 22 at the Nassau County Range in Uniondale.

Once they were there, we checked in and Dom was nice enough to pay my range fee. I really appreciate that. Then we headed into the range. Before shooting though, I gave all three of them a quick safety briefing just outside the actual range. I probably babbled for 10 or 15 minutes on safety. I went over the so called 4 rules plus a few of the other cardinal rules of firearms' safety. They all paid attention and that was even nicer than having my range fee paid for by someone else. Once inside the range, I went over more safety stuff. I then uncased the Remington 513T Matchmaster and went over the parts of the rifle and some info about the ammo for it. I then told and showed them how to operate it. Again, all three paid attention very well and again I was very pleased. As I explained to them, one mistake is all it takes and that one mistake can end a life and be your albatross for a lifetime. Each one of them had some pertinent questions and again I was pleased because it only was more evidence of them having paid attention and wanting to learn.

Soon enough, I was pretty sure they were ready to shoot and I let one of the youngsters have a crack at it. I am not sure but think it was young Dom who shot first. Whenever he shot - first or second - he did pretty good. While we were only shooting at 10 yards, to get the basics in on this first go round, he did better than other new shooters I have seen and taught. Matt also shot fairly well and Dom the elder shot surprisingly well. I figure maybe he has shot before but he said not. I let them shoot a few more magazines out of the Remington, then we switched over to a Ruger 10/22. I could see immediately that they had an easier time holding the the Ruger as compared to the Remington. That 513T is a fairly heavy 22. Dom Sr. even mentioned how much lighter was the Ruger.

I am pretty sure that Dom the younger started off with the Ruger. He shot a pretty good group and while doing so he exercised good trigger control, and good firearms' safety. Then Matt shot and I was impressed. They both fired the Ruger standing, unsupported, where they had fired the Remington standing but elbows supported on the bench. Well, Matt surprised us all; he got the best group of the two youngsters firing unsupported, I am guessing about 2 or 2.5 inches across. That was with a stock Ruger 10/22 with factory iron sights. Dom the dad also took several shots with it and did pretty well but not as good as he had done with the Remington, which by the way has peep sights.

After that they each shot the Ruger and the Remington a couple of times and before we knew it time was up. Truthfully, Dom the dad may have had the best group of all but I did not want to tell hm that in font of his kids and have it go to his head. Even if he did though, it was not better than Matt's by much and Dom he younger's was pretty close to that one. In other words they all did well. Next time I think we shoot one magazine each at 15 yards, then out to 25 yards for the three of them.

When we were done we cleaned up and we talked about doing it again. I told Dom to make sure to get himself a hunter safety certificate and after that he would be able to bring Matt to the range without me but that I was certainly willing to help them out again in the near future. Matt, being 16, is required to shoot with an adult and the adult is required to have a hunter safety certificate or certain firearms' instructor qualifications. Then Dom said he was thinking of buying a rifle because it had been so much fun and I almost fell over. Sometime in there, I recalled to Dom's sons that just a couple of years ago or so, Dom the dad had told me something to the effect of: 'I will never have a gun in my house and never let my kids have a gun or shoot.' Dom must be becoming a conservative or something. I am happy for the change, I have some new shooting buddies and so will Brendan hen he joins in with all of us.

As for me shooting today, I think I fired only two shots when demonstrating the Remington. I had a great time despite not shooting more than that. It was really nice to bring some folks into the world of shooting- especially ones who were attentive and safety conscious. Three new shooters in one day was not to shabby and Dom said another son wanted to come today but could not make it. That just means I have another potential new shooter lined up for a future lesson. I am looking forward to it.


Besides teaching some new shooters today, I figure I helped to stimulate the economy albeit in a way that the current administration might not approve. I mean by converting 3 new shooters, just think how I helped the economy today. Three new shooters means at least the purchase of one new rifle, maybe more (more is inevitable if they stick with it). It also means sales of ammo, shooting safety accessories, cleaning accessories and supplies, among other things. They also will spend money on range fees and on gas to get to the range. Heck if a few current shooters matched this, it could cause a local gun shop, or a local range, to hire someone new and we would have created a job or two. Of course, it also means father and sons having a good time together and that, while maybe doing little for the economy, is priceless. I know so because that is how I value my range time when Brendan is with me - as absolutely priceless. Speaking of Brendan, it is time for me to go check on him to see how he is feeling. Later for all of you.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ballseyes Gun Shots 97 - Men With Guns, Men On A Mission

Later today, Brendan and I will be off to the range. Our range trip today will be somewhat different from the norm in that we will be on a sort of a mission. Our task today pretty much requires us to go to the indoor range so we will not be bringing along some of the larger caliber rifles and probably will bring mostly 22s but those should fit in with the job we need to do. That job will be to teach one of my friends and possibly his son how to shoot. It has been quite the while since I have brought a new shooter into the flock and I am pretty sure it will be a first for Brendan. I suppose as I taught him to shoot, I guess I also taught him to instruct others in how to shoot. I surely gave him most of the basics on that though never in a formal manner. Yet, I am certain he is up to the task of helping a couple of newbies enter the shooters' world today. I am confident he will do well.

Now as for my friend, I guess I am also confident he will do well, his son too if he comes along. I am hopeful both if them will be there since bringing in two new folks to our ranks is simply twice as good as bringing in one and the whole buddies with their sons thing sounds like a fun afternoon.

For now, I've got to go get some rifles and ammo picked out. Later, I'll tell you how it all worked out.

All the best,
GB

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jesus...

...H. Christ! You have probably heard that version of Jesus' name many times, I know I have heard it over and over again. I have heard it in heated conversations going on in bars, in surprised statements on the street, in war movies, even at Catholic summer camp and in Catholic School. I have heard it for years but yet I am baffled about that middle initial. So, what I want to know is this: For what does the H stand for?

Any relevant and polite feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Glenn B

John Nosler - in memorium

John Nosler passed away on October 10, 2010. He was 97 years old. To most, the name John Nosler probably means very little but if you are a firearms enthusiast of any degree then you probably are familiar with the last name if not his given name. John Nosler, when in his mid thirties, established what would become one of the premiere bullet manufacturing companies in he world and his family still runs the business today. He is responsible, among other things, for creating the partitioned bullet - a hallmark in ammunition manufacturing and shooting. I will not go into his story in any great depth here because I do not know it that well and anyway, someone else has already written a finer piece about him than than I ever could. Read it over at the Black Bear Blog. See the article http://mainehuntingtoday.com/bbb/2010/10/20/john-a-nosler-passes-away-at-age-97/.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soldiers' Holiday Care Package Update

So far there has been only one donation toward the Soldiers' Holiday Care package but it was a nice one. Al S., a coworker of mine and a friend, donated $50 on the first or second day of the drive. That is going to go a long way to making my assigned soldier and some others in his unit pretty happy. I already have a decent package together and if I have the time, I'll send it out on Saturday. I'll detail the contents when I send it out.

Please, if you have a buck or three to spare, think about making a donation.

All the best,
GB

President Obama Insulting The American Voter Once Again?

"People out there are still hurting very badly, and they are still scared. And so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared," Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser Saturday in Boston. "And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be." (Quote source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/18/obama-voters-scared-thinking-clearly-election/)
First of all, I cannot believe how insulting this president can be regarding the intelligence of the American voter. he outright insults voters again and again and the statement above is more of the same. Are we truly to believe him that we are not thinking straight because we are scared. I hate to say it but I am scared - scared that this administration will remain in power after November. That is why I will vote for almost anyone but a democrat on election day. Now does that indicate to you that I am not thinking clearly? You see, I have gone over the accomplishments versus the failures of both the House and the Senate. I find the failures far outweigh the accomplishments. I also find that this Congress, especially under the current president, is one that swings far left toward socialism (as in the Health Care Law and as in government ownership/running of automobile companies and many other things). In addition I believe their current policies and hoped for future policies will destroy the prosperity of our nation and will destroy our Constitutional form of government. I came to these findings after long careful study of the facts. I studied the facts because I was alarmed, as in scared. I agree with the president on one point, that last sentence in the quote above, that Americans are scared and have good reason to be. He just does not want to accept the fact that we have good reasons to be scared and those reasons are his and Congress's ultra-leftist policies that may well lead to the ruin of the United States of America.

Does my being scared mean I cannot think effectively. No it does not. I am not terrified, I am not peeing in my pants in fear and trembling in a corner. I am scared more that this political balderdash and conniving will continue and it will be detrimental to our nation and so, I have thought about how to stop it from happening. The way to do that is to vote out the bums. How dare this president say we as a people are not thinking clearly if that is what we choose to do. Whom does he think he is anyway. He is not our superior, not our master, not our boss, certainly not my mentor, nor my role model and not the person to in any way control my or your vote. He is our employee and one who is doing rather poorly at his job. If he and his cronies cannot get the job done well then out they go and he best not forget it. That is about as intelligent a thinking process as anyone could produce. On the other hand, to fall for his smooth yet hollow rhetoric, his false sense of savoire faire, his bullying, his apparent less than truthfulness about such groups as the Tea Party and Acorn (both opposite sides of the coin but was he truthful about either), his seemingly hypocritical accusations about fund raising, his claims that the economy has recovered, and his attempts at winning us over by insulting us, would truly indicate someone was not thinking straight. In that case though it would probably be because they were choking on all the smoke he has been blowing.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marlin XL7 30-06 - Like A Siren's Song...

...a new bolt action rifle keeps calling my name in an incessantly alluring manner. That the rifle is a budget model does not make it any less tempting to me, in fact it makes it more so especially because, while an inexpensive 30 caliber rifle, it is said to be a good one. I had sort of had my mind set on the Marlin XS7 in .308 but the XL7 in 30-06 is just about as tempting and I have found one at a really decent price of about $320. Granted, the ammo for the XL7 in 30-06 would be more expensive than the .308 ammo for the XS7 but the 30-06 also sings its own sort of Siren's Song to me in that the 30-06 is a superior caliber to the .308 and is an old time classic - among the best overall calibers in the world.

I am thinking about going for it. I really cannot afford it right now with a vacation coming up in December, plus the holidays and birthdays but man is it ever so tempting. I do have about $125 in the piggy bank and that would help. One of the only things that keeps me from jumping on it is the magazine is a blind box magazine - in other words it is an internal magazine that is integral to the rifle and it does not have a floorplate. If a round gets stuck in there it could be a witch to clear it. Then again, for the price it is supposed to be one heck of a great deal. Of course I have also been considering a more expensive Savage 11 or a Remington 700. Decisions - decisions!

All the best,
Glenn B

Motorcycle Insurance

I have been working on my son's motorcycle insurance for the past couple of hours. What a pain in the neck getting online quotes. Blogging to be continued probably tomorrow.

Later for you,
Glenn B

Friday, October 15, 2010

The View - Do People In This Country Really Take Them Seriously

Tell me because I truly am aghast at the thought - do folks in our country truly take seriously Whoopi Goldberg (I think just that name is ridiculous let alone her view) Wa-Wa Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd? Do Americans also lend any credence at all to Joy Behar? It is sad to think, even for a moment, that they do. All this fuss over them and the Fox News lefty/righty switching Leprechaun having it out on that show just totally mystifies me. Why make a fuss about anything they talked about or did on that show? It is plain foolish entertainment at its very best, entertainment geared toward an audience of fools - don't you think? They almost make, in my opinion, that jerk terrible talk show host Jerry Springer look like presidential material for 2012.

I have watched The View a number of times while in a doctor's office or while waiting for my car at Jiffy Lube because it was on the tube and I could not change it. I also watched some of Springer's show back when it was on, usually under like conditions. Of course, I sometimes also watch Bill O'Reilly - mostly because I want to watch the news. I am no fan of any of theirs' but have to say that compared to Goldberg, Hasselbeck, Shepherd and Behar, O'Reilly looks like a brain surgeon standing next to 4 of his patients on whom the surgeries were dismal failures. The fifth one, BW, she compares favorably to O'Reilly for smarts, she could have assisted him during those failed surgeries, but both are, in my opinion, out and out charlatans (aka: quacks).

So tell me - do a great number of American actually give them any serious consideration as pundits? If the answer really is yes - well it is no wonder why we are doomed to social, economic, political and probably military failure. We have, or at least some of you have, what I believe are blithering idiots as our mentors. It explains a lot about how an unheard of community organizer was thought to have been experienced enough to have become president. Lots of people must have believed and clung to every word these TV personalities told them. A damn shame is what it is, and a real injustice to all of us. Give me someone like Walter Cronkite any day for news commentary over any of them and someone like Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, or George H.W. Bush for leadership and someone like Theodore Roosevelt and Condoleeza Rice for mentorship.

All the best,
Glenn B

Early To Bed And Early To Rise...

...makes me feel like blah. Here I am getting up at 0350 to go to work early today! This sucks but hopefully it means my workday will end early too.

All the best,
GB

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ballseye's Guns Shots 96 - My Son's New Favorite Gun (or how to shoot and possibly avoid arthritis and other related aches & pains)

I am not a doctor, not an expert in anatomy, nor in biophysics. So take what I am about to say as my anecdotal opinion and not much more, unless of course you decide to try it and it works for you. I know, it works for me and it seems my son independently has discovered it works for him too.

Two evenings ago, my son stopped down in the man cave for a rare after work visit with me; a rare visit in that after he gets home from work he usually does not want to talk to his annoying old man. Well, as it turned out, he picks up the Marlin 25MN that I have leaning up against some molding around one of the doors, makes sure it is empty, brings it to his shoulder pointing it in a safe direction and says: "This is my new favorite gun". Now one has to wonder, why would a soon to be 21 year old young man, in good shape and health, say that. I mean, he owns his own AK47 and his own AR15, he enjoys shooting my SKS, my 91/30 Mosin Nagant and M44 Mosin Nagant and sometimes has fun shooting the Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun - so I really had to ask myself why he said that. He blurted it out before I could ask him and the riddle was solved as to why this young man liked what he had probably thought was a pansy's gun just a week before. He said something to the effect: 'You can shoot this all day long with no recoil and no pain, its good to shoot it to take a break from larger calibers with lots more kick'.

Hmm, he does learn somethings without having to hear them from me. No let me correct that because he has heard that from me numerous times but never paid it much mind. Well, the last time we went shooting he picked it up and started to fire shot after shot and went through about 150 rounds or so, and 100 of them pretty darned fast with a pretty decent group at that. I think he was really impressed at how little recoil there was and at how much fun it was to shoot it after first having pounded his right shoulder with some 12 gauge slugs, some 7.62x54R, lots of .35 Remington and lots of .223 rounds. I had shot them all too, plus some 8mm Mauser out of my Yugo 24/47. I can tell you without a doubt in my mind, taking some time out between the bigger bore rifles to shoot something in .22 caliber is really a smart thing to do if you like your joints. That is why I almost always bring along a .22 caliber rifle to the range when I bring the bigger ones with me.

With me, I do it because I have had joint problems for years due to old injuries and due to Lyme disease. I have arthritis in my neck and shoulders and probably have a burr in each shoulder. I also had a cyst in my neck that probably caused a lot of the neck, upper back and right shoulder and arm pain I used to experience. I had it removed, found out it had been sitting on a nerve that runs down the neck into the shoulder and onto the arm. Since the surgery the arm is feeling better, not without pain but simply much less painful. With all these aches, pains, crackles and crunches in those areas, I decided a couple of years or more back to tone it down on the larger bore guns at the range. I started making it my routine to bring the 22s. I have a bunch of them - so why not enjoy them. I saw a lessening in pain after range days almost immediately.

Now, as I said above, I am not a doctor but I am willing to bet that some of the pain I have in my neck and right shoulder is due to the fact that I have been shooting a 12 gauge shotgun regularly ever since I started my career over 31 years ago. I have also been shooting medium bore rifles since then (some for my job others for pleasure). All that pounding as evidenced by all the bruises (from the 12 gauge) have had to have taken their toll. I am also willing to bet that had I taken it a bit easier and shot some 22 in there along the way I would have wound up with joints in better shape than they are now.

My son seems to have grasped this already, hopefully long before having developed any sort of muscular or skeletal problems like arthritis or town rotator cuffs or bursitis or whatever. What was it the weight lifters used to say: "No pain, no gain". Not for me anymore! I think Steve Reeves (former competitive weight lifter and I think Mr. Universe, and actor who played Hercules way back when) had it right when he said something to the effect of 'if your in pain, you have no brain' in relation to weight lifting. Same goes for shooting as far as I can tell - more or less. Sure, if you shoot a 12 gauge slug gun tactically in a timed event, chances are you will wind up in some pain. If you shoot a fairly large bore rifle to sight it in for hunting season, the same could be true. Same thing for any fairly large bore rifle or shotgun you shoot. The thing is though, you do not need to torture yourself to have fun while shooting, at least not if you have a brain. If you start to ache, if you hear the joints cracking, if you begin to stiffen up, anything like that, then put down the rifles and shotguns, loosen up a bit and if you really want to or need to continue shooting - then maybe you would be better off shooting something in 22 rimfire. Not only is it just as much fun as shooting the larger calibers and less painful at that, it is less expensive too. Yeah, shooting something like our Marlin 25MN in .22WMR (22 magnum) is fairly expensive with a box of 50 rounds going for around $12 to $14 but not as expensive as shooting any of the other calibers I mentioned above if shooting quality ammo. If that is still too expensive for you as an alternate to the shoulder crunching calibers, then go to a rifle in .22LR. It has even less recoil than .22WMR.


Of course, if you suffer from arthritis or other ailments that make it virtually impossible for you to shoot larger bore firearms, you may want to try to see if you can still shoot something in 22 rimfire caliber. It may be a way to still enjoy a pastime that you thought you had been forced to give up - but if you are that bad it may be a good idea to check with your doctor first. It may also be a good idea to hold off on any additional shooting, until you see a doctor, if you get any really serious acute pain while shooting.

If you treat yourself right, and don't inadvertently punish yourself and your joints, you will probably find shooting to be a much nicer experience and may find that your joints wind up staying in good shape a whole lot longer than did mine. Sure, I pointed out above, I have had past joint injuries and Lyme Disease (twice at that) and those things probably took their toll but there is no reason for me to make it worse. So, I bring along a 22 when I also have the larger rifles, heck sometimes they 22s are all I bring along. That way I can keep shooting on those days when the aches and pains start to bother me or already have been bothering me. I can also shoot the 22s on days when the pain is not there, thus probably helping to assure it will not bother me the following days. As I said, I am no doctor but it makes sense to me.

I think my son has hit on something all on his own regardless of me having told him about it countless times and him apparently not listening. Amazing how that happened - how it became his own independent observation that did not cross pollinate with my advice - but I listened to him, even if in amazement when he told me about why the Marlin 25MN has become his favorite gun. I am happy for him if it spares him some of what I have gone through. I only wish I had learned it earlier myself but then I did not have anyone around, as smart as my son, repeatedly telling me about it until I figured it out myself.

All the best,
Glenn B

New Blog Added To The Blog Roll

Check this one out, another good gun site: Marooned.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ballseye's Gun Shots 95 - A Tisket A Tasket - What To Put In The Christmas Shopping Basket (but wait until after Thanksgiving or I may hate myself)

Here I sit, trying to think about something to write about guns or shooting or ammo or hunting something along those lines and I am stumped about what to write about. Not all that much is coming to mind and that has me perplexed because there is one thing that comes to mid but I may hate myself if I do write about it now, in October. You see, I really do not like seeing the once traditional timing of the seasons upset by bad marketing and greed in that Christmas sales begin before Thanksgiving. Once upon a time, Christmas (and Chanukah) sales did not commence until the day after Thanksgiving. That particular Friday, Black Friday, marked the unofficial start of the commercial selling season for Christmas for the majority of my life (and let me just say I am into my second half century).

I am guessing it was about 20 years or so ago that some fool decided that sales were not going all that well, of whatever it was that usually got sold during the couple months just prior to December, and that a way to improve sales would be to start selling Christmas items earlier than usual. So they started selling things about 2 weeks or so before Thanksgiving. Town or city placed Christmas lights, which also went up the day after Thanksgiving or later, were starting to pop up along avenues and boulevards weeks before Black Friday. It pissed me off then and it still does today, the only difference being that merchants do not wait until 2 weeks before Thanksgiving anymore, heck they don’t even wait until Halloween (yes it creeped that far ahead already several years ago) nor do they wait until a month before Thanksgiving or Black Friday to start merchandising Christmas. The truth is they have advanced holiday merchandising all the way up to this past weekend! I was in a Home Depot yesterday and they already had Christmas lights, ornaments, other accessories and artificial Christmas trees for sale. I am pretty sure I saw some menorahs in thee mix as well. It was, in my opinion, an unmitigated disgusting example of shop owners’ incompetence fueled by nothing other than greed and it just gets worse as the years go by. If they knew what they were doing in the first place, they would not have had to have started selling Christmas items about a month and 3 weeks ahead of the traditional Christmas selling season.

By now, you may be wondering why I said I might hate myself if I write about the one topic I had in mind to write about. No that topic is not the whole thing about how I dislike early sales of Christmas of Chanukah items. I have though figured how not to hate myself when I start to write about it here in this post, right now in mid October. The way for me to avoid hating myself if for me to say this to you before I go any further:

I am not recommending that you go out and buy any Christmas or Chanukah gifts now. Nor am I even suggesting that you start to stock up on holiday decorations (unless maybe you celebrate Halloween and want to get some junk Halloween items now - heck Halloween is only a couple of weeks away. What I am going to do though, is to give you some things to think about along the lines of suggestions for holiday gifts for the shooter, gun collector, reloader, hunter and so on and I am going to strongly urge you that if you are going to buy any of these as a Christmas or Chanukah gift - you wait until after Thanksgiving!

So with the holidays in mind (remember only in mind - don’t you dare buy any of this stuff until at least Black Friday - or I will be sorely disappointed and may hate myself) here are my suggestions for some perfect gifts for the shooting sportsman/woman. And yes this list is a knock off of a previous one I did but there are a lot of new items added. Anyway, the list is worth repeating every year and a good time to post it is far too long before Christmas just before hunting season:

Hunting Jacket (and if you love the person to whom you give it, make sure it I blaze orange and not fawn colored)

Spotting Scope

Nice New Rifle in his or her favorite caliber

Reloading Kit

Gun Cleaning Kit

Membership in the NRA

Gift certificate at your local gun shop or sporting goods store that sells firearms, ammo and other shooting or hunting accessories

Fine Hunting Knife

Pair of Hunting Boots

Membership at your local rifle/pistol range

Leather Rifle Sling

Case of Ammunition

Shooting Glasses

Silicone Gun Cloths

Portable Gun Bench/Rest

All Expense Paid Hunting Trip

Set of Sand Bag Rifle Rests

Magazine Subscription to a Shooting or Hunting magazine

Optical Sight/Scope

Extra Rifle or Pistol Magazines for his or her favorite gun

Brand New Shotgun

Military Surplus Rifle

Small Gunsmith Screwdriver Set

Babes (or Hunks) with Firearms Calendar

Gift Certificate for Firearms’ Related Training (such as Gunsite or Front Sight)

Bottle of Gun Oil like Break-free CLP

Deer Scent

Bore Light

Firearms’ Book (how to book, gun history, manuals, gun values, hunting are just some examples of the types of books to consider)

Shooting Vest

Paper Targets

Tree Stand

Clay Pigeons

Clay Thrower

Holsters, web gear, magazine pouches, gun belt

Long Underwear (for hunters)

All Expense Paid Trip to the NRA National Firearms Museum, or to West Point, or another location with historical firearms exhibits

Rifle or Pistol Case

Game call

Shooting Muffs

Workbench with Gun Vise

Portable Hunting Blind

Red Dot Scope

Puppy (as in a Hunting Dog Breed, make sure this is a good choice before buying)

Hunting Dog Training Accessories

ATV (yikes, are you rich, not me)

Reloading Components

Shooting Gloves

Firearms How To Video/CD

Hot Seat

Set of Decoys

Splatter Targets (like Shoot-N-C)

Hunting Day or Fanny Pack

Binoculars

Choke Tubes

Gun Safe

Ammo Cans (military surplus)

Trail Camera

Collectible Firearms Item (maybe a special gun or a collectible ammo tin, or an ammo board, or an antique decoy)

Ben Gay (especially appreciated by shotgun and big bore shooters or by hunters who spend a long cold wet arthritic day in the woods)

Oh, you get the idea. If you are not sure of which caliber, size, breed, model or other designation to get use the old standby - a gift card/certificate - but specify what you mean it to purchase.

Remember this is just all food for thought and not a recommendation to go out and try to stimulate the economy before Black Friday. By getting this info now, you have a lot of time to figure that perfect gift for your shooting sportsman or sportswoman and you have ample time to shop around for a good deal too and then to save up for it. If you are feeling particularly like you need to stimulate the U.S. economy you can even look for those perfect items with made in the USA labels or stickers on them!

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first Chilean miner is out of the hole! About time there is some really good news taking up all of the news time.

All the best,
GB

NRA: Institute for Legislative Action

I just sent them a donation and am just wondering if any of my readers have done likewise. I imagine that the solicitation I received from the NRA was sent out to all members and I am sure some of you are NRA members. So tell me: Do you routinely make donations to the NRA? If not, then do you donate now and then, especially when (like this time) the donation form includes an entry form to enter a gun giveaway sweepstakes? Of course, no contribution was required to enter the contest but I donated anyhow. I figure it goes to a good cause, protecting our 2nd Amendment rights. Sure times are tough, now just imagine how tough things will get if they take our guns away. If you received the same mailing from the NRA/ILA - why not dig a just a little and do your part by way of a contribution.

All the best,
Glenn B

Hermann's Tortoises Uncensored

I guess they are celebrating and who can blame them after her having won first place and him second place in the tortoise category at the Long Island Herpetolgical Society's annual show this past weekend. Of course, now he is trying to show her who is really number 1! video
Right now they are both loose in the basement and he is still playing Don Juan and is still chasing her around. I suppose they are both getting some good exercise as she plays hard to get and he plays hard to discourage.

All the best,
GB

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reptile Show, Birthday Shopping, Visiting Family, Birthday Party, Carpet Cleaning, It's Been a Busy Weekend...

...and there was not much time if any for blogging. I took off from work on Friday to get my exhibits ready for the LIHS 21st Annual Reptile & Amphibian Show. I had tanks to clean, animals to select, travel containers to ready, exhibit tags to print up, and so on. That was in the morning and afternoon. Then it was off to the show location on Friday night to help with set-up of the exhibit and vendor tables. It literally took me several hours to get ready and to help out with the tables. In fact, it took so long that I did not have time to go shopping for my nephew's birthday gift that night, as I had planned, so I figured I would do that on Saturday after the show.

Then there was the show on Saturday. I was up at about 0530 to start putting the finishing touch on things, to make sure I had not forgotten anything and to load my car. I was at the show hall by about 0800, a half hour after it opened. I set up my table there and also set up my tanks on the display tables for the competition. Then I found out the maintenance closet was locked with no maintenance men in sight and water could only be had from the sinks in the men's room. Since I was going to display several aquatic and semi-aquatic amphibians, I needed water. I just didn't want to try to fill 5 tanks by the cup full from the washroom sink. After a few hours, I decided that would have to be the way to go, then I remembered I had brought along a hose to siphon my tanks at the end of the show. It was just the right, size so that when using my hand wrapped around one end as a coupling, it meshed almost perfectly with the nozzle end of the faucet. I held it in place, turned on the water, and filled three and a half 5 gallon buckets to get the job done. My salamander, newts, and frogs were finally on display. None too soon since the judging started within about an hour of me having completed the task. Regardless of the competition, having the animals on display was what counted, that is what folks had come to see.


Sometime in the early or mid afternoon, Brendan showed up and helped out watching my table for awhile. My friend Harry, from the LIHS, had already been lending a hand with that and thanks to them I was able to get the tanks filled without having to worry about something disappearing from my table like last year. When Brendan took over the table, I also took the opportunity to walk around to quickly check out the exhibits and to see what the vendors were selling. I had already made a couple of purchases from Slither & Swim, who had the 5 tables next to mine and which were full of herp keeping accessories, tanks, feeder insects, dry food and the like. Paul (hope I remembered his name right, I am terrible on names) is the owner of Slither & Swim and is an all around good guy, one of the nicest vendors at any such show to which I have been.

Brendan also bought a couple of items from Slither & Swim and took a look at all the other tables, both the vendors and the display tables for the competition. After awhile he told me the ribbons were being placed. We waited, impatiently, to see if our animals won anything. In all we had the following on display:

1 Anderson's Aquatic Salamander

1 Iberian Ribbed Newt

2 Blue Tailed Newts

1 African Clawed Frog

2 Red-bellied Toads

1 Male Hermann's Tortoise

1 Female Hermann's Tortoise

Our good husbandry efforts paid off. Of all our animals, only three did not take home ribbons: one of the Fire-bellied Frogs, one of the Blue Tailed Newts and the African Clawed Frog I(that was a disappointment since it is a very nice frog but they are easy to keep and that is figured into the judging). All the others won ribbons and two won trophies:

One of Brendan's Fire-bellied Toads won third place among the frogs & toads division.

The Iberian Ribbed Newt pulled in third place for salamanders, newts & sirens.

The Blue Tailed Newts won second place for salamanders, newts and sirens.

The Anderson's Aquatic Salamander won first place for salamanders, newts & sirens (our animals making it a sweep for that division). This one also went on to win best amphibian and got a nice trophy for that. I was pretty amazed and humbled to say the least. I was humbled because of the quality of the competition. There were two Colorado River Toads on display and one of them had won the first place ribbon in the frogs & toads division, thus putting it up head to head against my salamander for best overall in the amphibians class. It would have been just a bit more than a bit ironic had the toad won best in class because I had given it to Rich M. who had it on display. He surely has kept it in pristine condition, it is a beautiful animal, heck both of them are such.

The male Hermann's Tortoise achieved second place in the tortoises division.

As for the female Hermann's Tortoise - before the judging had begun, Ed (the guy who sold me this tortoise about 5 or 6 years ago) was admiring her and asked me if she was mine. I said yes she was mine. He then said he was amazed by her size as she was the largest, by far, Hermann's Tortoise he had ever seen (and he has seen quite a few having been a breeder of them for years and an admirer and keeper of them for even longer). He also said she was a beautiful animal. When I told him she was the one that he had sold me years ago, his jaw dropped, just a bit but it definitely dropped. She went on to win the blue ribbon for first place for tortoises; then she went on to win best of all turtles and tortoises at the show. That meant I was going home with another trophy. While Ed's compliments had been more than enough to let me know I have been doing something very right in caring for her, winning a blue ribbon and a trophy both surprised me and humbled me since there was a lot of tough competition out there in her class. The competition included, among others, several turtles and tortoises entered by my pal Harry. One of his turtles came in first place. That meant the judges had to pick between his turtle and my tortoise for best overall in the Turtles & Tortoises division. We always have a friendly rivalry going on for the show, and Harry took it in stride as one of us always does when the other guy wins although he did point out that my 'defective' tortoise had won over his pristine turtle! The female Hermann's Tort has some scarring on her shell, barely noticeable after a few years, where my dogs had gnawed on her like a chew toy a few years back. I gloated and rubbed it into Harry's wounds. Really though, I only rubbed it in a little although I may have gloated a bit more. It is all in fun though and next year Harry's animals will probably trounce mine.


Most of all, for next year, I am hoping Brendan will have stuck with it and that he will enter a few more animals of his own and take home a trophy. He was disappointed that 'Bill' the African Clawed Frog (the only of our herps with a given name) did not win, but thems is the breaks! There is always next year.

Of course, Saturday was not the end to this weekend. On Sunday, I drove out to my moms, picked her up, then drove the both of us to my sister's and brother in law's house to celebrate my nephews 10th. Before I could pick up my mom though, I had to go shopping for my nephew's present. Never get anything done until the last possible moment is my motto! Really, I was so tired on Saturday when I got home from the reptile show that I passed out from about 6:30 until 10:30. I had been planning to go shopping for his present somewhere in that time frame before the stores closed at 9. I would have gone days before had my sister gotten back to me to let me know if she and her man approved of what I was planning to buy for my nephew. She didn't though, so I just decided what the heck, I'll get it regardless. So I went shopping before I picked up my mom from the assisted living apartments. We wound up arriving about 45 minutes later than planned thanks to my going shopping and doing my other Sunday morning chores. Those other chores were cleaning out the car. Did I forget to mention I also had to empty out the car of tanks and such that I had not gotten out on Saturday evening after the reptile show.

We had a nice time at the party. The food was excellent, the company even better and the three three Heineken's I had right after I got there went down oh so very well. No more after those because I would be driving my mom home within about five hours of enjoying them. Had plenty of time for good eats, good conversation and good relaxation. Then it was present time and I guess I can tell you what it was I bought that same morning for my nephew's present. The it was a Crossman pump BB rifle and a jar of a thousand BBs. Me thinks, from the reaction it got, is that my brother-in-law may have more fun with it than will my nephew but of course I am sure dad will be teaching the young one and both will love it. My nephew actually seemed pretty pleased with it though it was getting a bit too dim to be shooting it and was a bit too chilly to stay outside by the time we got round to it. Next time I am there I will see how he handles it. If he does well, then when he turns 12, I may just have to give him a .22 rifle and take him to the range (such is the law in NY as far as I know, got to be 12 to shoot at a range).

After the party it was a ride back to my mom's place, then a bit more time spent with her there, then off to home for me. I was pooped. Still though, I got up early this morning. I put away all the stuff I had strewn about from the reptile show, then I got down to some serious business. I started to move furniture in my basement in anticipation of my yearly to biannual carpet cleaning down there. My man-0cave happens to not only be one of my favorite places in my home but also one of the favorite places for our pooches to relive themselves if they have an emergency. We clean up after them, of course, but it still stains somewhat so I clean it, with a carpet cleaning machine I rent at Home Depot, once or twice a year. Luckily my daughter and wife helped out a bit with collateral cleaning such as vacuuming and dusting after I moved the furniture. Then I was off to Home depot, picked up the machine and some cleaning solution and headed back home to get the job done. It took me about 2 hours of cleaning to get it done, not including the furniture moving and dusting and vacuuming. Those all added a few more hours and that does not include moving the furniture back into place. Most of it is in the back part of the basement, shoved in there with the water heater and boiler. I'll move it back later tonight of tomorrow night after I run the dehumidifier for several hours.

Wound up I moved most of the crap stuff back tonight. Right now I am a bit achy, a bit grumpy and in dire need of a vodka and something. That is where I am going right now - to mix myself a soothing concoction and calm the beast within. Believe me, after all the stuff I did today to put an end to this weekend, the beast was pretty grouchy - it would much preferred to have rested today. Now it will settle for a good stiff drink and while I drink it I can ponder this: One of these days, the dogs my wife's dogs will get housebroken beyond accident and marking stages and the friggin carpet cleanings will become a thing of the past.

I cannot find the vodka! Damn must have moved it when I was shifting all the stuff around in the basement. I guess it will have to be a couple of cold ones - HB Hofbrau Oktberfest! Not a bad substitute for a vodka now that I think of it. I have had enough, I took all I can stands cause I can't stands no more but I ain't going for a can of spinach! Bring on those cold ones; and maybe as I takes me a swig, I'll take another look at those trophies I won to calm me nerves.

As for me - next weekend I am going hunting and my male heir will be coming along. As for you - later for you - when the beast is calmer.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reminder - LIHS 21st Annual Reptile & Amphibian Show Tomorrow

The Long Island Herpetological Society will hold its 21st Annual Reptile & Amphibian Show on Saturday October 9th from 10AM to 4PM. The location of the show will be Roosevelt Hall at SUNY Farmingdale in Farmingdale, NY just off of route 110. The show will consist of educational exhibits, a judged show of reptiles & amphibians, and sales of reptile & amphibians and supplies and accessories.

More information about the show can be found at:
http://lihs.org/files/events.htm

Directions to the show can be found here: http://lihs.org/files/dir_suny.htm

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, October 7, 2010

1979 A New Beginning...

...was about to commence in my life. I would have to wait until September of that year to begin my career as a federal agent in the U.S. Border Patrol. That first federal job had me encountering more aliens than I would have ever imagined would have been possible but that is not new beginning to which the title of this post references. No, there was another new beginning in 1979 for me, one that had to do with aliens that were even more unimaginable. It was a new beginning for all of us, especially for those among us who wonder if there are others out there, or just those of us who enjoy a good, and I mean really good, sci-fi movie now and then.

It was on May 25, 1979, just 4 months and 4 days before I was sworn in as a Border Patrol Agent, that an as of then almost unheard of actress appeared in her first leading role, only the third film of her career. It was a film that would scare the peanuts out of your M&Ms (no not my quote but I forget who said it) and maybe I should have seen it as some sort of omen of what was to come for me with all of the alien chasing. Of course, by now you must have figured that the actress was Sigourney Weaver and the film was ALIEN. It was a whole new beginning for the sci-fi genre of films.

Well, I just sat down to watch it, it's on TMC as I type. I have got to say, before I allow myself to become totally enmeshed in it for about the 25th time I have watched it, that it is one of the best all time sci-fi (& horror & action & adventure) movies of all time. A good friend asked me, just two days ago, "What is the best sci-fi movie ever?" and I was unable to answer. I still can't answer that question without some serious thought of all the ones I have ever seen but I can tell you that when he asked, just as when I think of it now, this movie popped right into my mind as one of the very best.

If you have never seen it, and if you decide to watch it, try to see it in a theater that shows old movies. If you cannot, then watch it on the biggest screen television you can with a good sound system and watch it with others who have not seen it yet, at night in a dark room. You will enjoy it if you like sci-fi, just don't eat any Peanut M&Ms while or just before watching it.

All the best,
GB