Monday, May 30, 2011

An Amusing Set of Photos Provokes Some Insightful Thought...

...and I must say, I miss Dubya!
All the best,
Glenn B

A Tantalizing Tortoise Tale...

...all due to an alluring tortoise tail. The allure, to be sure, was the tail end of my female Hermann's Tortoise and it was alluring to my male Hermann's Tortoise. I hibernated/brumated both of them this year for about 2 months or so. A cooling period is often necessary, in reptiles, for male to produce viable sperm cells and from what I have heard may be needed to help female tortoises produce viable eggs. Then I let that little imp cupid nature take its course and take it, it did. The male tortoise is one heck of an insistent courter; this regardless of the fact that he is much smaller than is the female and thus his thingy does not reach up seemingly from behind and under her shell to mate with her. I have watched them time and time again, first last year when got the male, and then this year since hibernation - never have I seen him hit a home run. Thus, I am somewhat doubtful that the eggs will have been fertilized. Yes the female has laid eggs, 5 of them Reptiles can and do oft times lay infertile eggs, I guess just like chickens. I am keeping my fingers crossed though hoping that the little guy hit a homer at least once - after all he has been growing and he sure has been swinging his bat and getting lots of practice with consistency!


Time, and a light light held right up to the eggs, will tell. I saw no evidence of fertility when I candled them today with a very bright flashlight but then again there is little alive inside an egg, except maybe a few cells, when then are freshly laid. I expect that within a few days to a week, when I candle them again, I should be able to make out blood vessels if they are fertile. I have them in an incubator with snake eggs right now but have to set up a separate one because that one is too cool for tortoise eggs. The tortoise eggs require temperatures from just under the higher end of that which snake eggs require to a few, or even several, degrees higher than that. Those higher temps could kill snake embryos, and from what I saw the snake eggs do look fertile.
Now, what temps I use for the tortoise eggs depends upon whether or not I want to go for babies of both sexes, want all males or all females. If I want all males, I can use the temps that I know are safe for the snake eggs and thus I can keep them together. If I want all females, then I need to raise those temps by several degrees above the maximum for snake eggs. If I want both sexes or the chance of both sexes, then I still need the temps above those I would normally use for snake eggs.

I have a Hova-bator incubator that someone gave to my son. It appears unused, looks to be complete except for a few unnecessary clips (all operating parts are there), and is minus any instructions but I found the instructions for it on the manufacturer's website. I think that will be my project for the rest of the night. After that, I'll have to read up a bit more on tortoise egg incubation, I want to get it right if they actually are fertile.


All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 137: The Variance In Ammo Prices, What Could It Mean

Today I went shopping, online, for some 7.62x39 ammunition. I discovered that Wolf Ammunition in said caliber was out of stock at all of the dealers from whom I usually buy ammo. I mean completely out of stock! So I decided to get some Silver Bear Ammo instead of the Wolf. It is a brand I have used before and that I trust almost as much as Wolf ammo.

So, I searched for Silver Bear 7.62x39, 123 grain, hollow point ammo, in a lot of 500rounds or in a half case (some sell this as a case and I may refer to it as either in this article but be advised all prices below are for 500 round lots). I was pretty surprised to see the huge difference in prices among the various dealers I have used. The prices can be seen below and do not reflect any discounts for membership, or coupons:

AIM Surplus
$115.00 per case of 500 rounds (they offer it at 25 boxes @ $4.60 ea) plus shipping
http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=ABS76239HP&name=Silver+Bear+7.62x39+HP+123grn+20rd+Box&groupid=39

Ammo Man
Not Offered
http://www.ammoman.com/index.htm

Centerfire Systems
Not offered
http://centerfiresystems.com/762x39.aspx

Cheaper Than Dirt
$146.29, plus shipping
http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/AMM6421-5.html

Classic Arms
Not offered
http://www.classicarms.us/ammunition.htm

J&G Sales
$144.95, plus shipping
http://www.jgsales.com/product_info.php/ammo-for-rifles/7-62x39mm/p/7-62x39-silver-bear-hp-500rds-/cPath/12_41/products_id/1629

Keep Shooting
Not offered
http://www.keepshooting.com/ammunition/rifle-ammunition

Military Shooters
$104.99, plus shipping (only 2 available when I checked)
http://shop.militaryshooters.com/catalog/product.asp?ret_id=140211&pid=1028166

Natchez Shooter’s Supplies
Not offered
http://www.natchezss.com/ammo.cfm?contentID=ammoGroup&ammoGroup=1&ammoSize=331&type=0&category=3

RGuns
Not Offered
http://rguns.net/ammo.shtml

SG Ammo
$109.00, plus shipping, (only 1 available when I checked)
http://www.sgammo.com/product/silver-bear/500-rds-silver-bear-762x39-123-gr-hollow-point-ammo-case

Sportsman’s Guide
$149.97, plus shipping
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/silver-bear-762x39-123-grain-hp-ammo-500-rds.aspx?a=472407&bi=147867

I also checked some dealers I have never used before. These included:

Lucky Gunner (Found the link to this site at
The Breda Fallacy)
Not offered
http://www.luckygunner.com/rifle/7.62x39mm-ammo

Alamo Ammo (link to this site found on Days Of Our Trailers)
Not offered
http://alamoammo.com/cart/rifle-ammunition/7.62-x-39

Remember, all of the above inquiries were made relative to Silver Bear 7.62x39 HP ammo all because not one of the above dealers had any Wolf 7.62x39 HP ammo in stock at all! The highest price that I found for a single case of 500 rounds of the Silver Bear ammo was at Sportsman’s Guide. The lowest price I found for a single case of 500 rounds of the Silver Bear ammo was at Military Shooters. The difference between the highest and the lowest prices was $41.98. That difference amounts to an almost 28 percent off of the high price. That is one heck of a difference in prices without any coupons or sales savings being involved. So a substantial savings could be had by shopping around for all of 15 minutes. Why such a big difference? I think that it is possible, that since a couple of the smaller businesses had better prices but also had very limited stock of the Silver Bear ammo, the smaller dealers had old pricing on old stock. I am guessing that the bigger dealers had new pricing on either new higher priced stock or simply raised it on old stock in anticipation of price increases.

As I say, that is guess work on my part; I cannot be sure without more information. You may recall though, not too long ago, I wondered, here, and here, if ammo prices might soon be rising based on some info I had seen and some news worthy events round the world. A price of virtually $147.07 (the average of the high 3 dealer prices above) for a half case of 500 rounds of Silver Bear 7.62x39 HP ammo is higher than it has been at most dealers for quite awhile. So I am hedging my bet that ammo prices are rising. Acting accordingly, I can say with certainty that Military Shooters has one less 500 round case of Silver bear 7.62x39 HP ammo in stock and I can also say with certainty I wish I had had enough to have bought more of it. Next time though, I think I may have to get some of the same caliber in soft point rounds.

It's up to you if you buy more now. With things going the way they seem to be going, I can only see prices going higher in the near future.

All the best,
Glenn B

Have Fun With This One


A friend sent me this link in an email. It took me about 10 minutes or so to figure it out. In reality it is quite simple if you remember one thing...

No, of course, I am not going to tell you the one thing. Figure it out for yourself.

All the best,
GB

Remember The Fallen...

...of the United States Military Services who departed this earth during wartime. It seems that many among us do not understand the true meaning of Memorial Day and it tends to be confused with Armed Forces Day, Fleet Week, Flag Day, Veterans Day, the beginning of the summer season and party time. This day was meant to be, and is, a memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation while in military service to her during war. This day was not meant as the official beginning of the summer season at the beaches and parks, a day off from work, a day to thank veterans, a day to celebrate victories, a day to honor the flag, nor a day for any other other honors of our military save to honor they who have perished protecting our great nation during war.

Sure, it is okay to honor the vet, salute the flag, praise our victories, begin summer festivities, have a BBQ, drink some beer and other things. Don't forget though the true meaning of the day. Whatever you do today, do it to honor them - our fallen military service men and women who perished during time of war. So, when you have you barbecue today, when you open the keg, when you mix the drinks, when you recall your time in service, when you thank God that your son or daughter made it through Afghanistan with no injuries, or that your husband came home from Iraq minus an arm but still came home alive, or that your friend Charlie pulled through Vietnam with a Purple Heart for severe injuries received, or that your dad made it through the Korean Conflict with only minor injuries, or when you remember that a grandfather lost his leg on Guadalcanal, or that your great grandfather fought bravely in the trenches in the War To End All Wars, or to recall a great-great grandfather who served during the Civil War - make sure to take at least a good long solemn moment to pay homage to our fallen heroes, they who gave their lives during war, so that we could carry on.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Mark Of Pepe - The Basement & Spring Cleaning

It seems that, at least once a year but more likely twice, I wind up doing a major cleaning in our basement. This includes a carpet cleaning or actually is initiated because of the need for a carpet cleaning. We have wall to wall carpeting in about 3/4 of the cellar. Luckily we have a dry basement so can have carpeting. Well, maybe I should clarify that. We have a dry basement when it rains, when it pours, after a few feet of snow rapidly thaw, when neighbors' basements get flooded. Whoever built our house made sure to arrange for great drainage around the foundation.

Still though, our basement gets wet, that is at least certain areas of it - most of them on the carpet. You see, we have 4 dogs. They sometimes have accidents or should i say the 3 females sometimes have accidents. We have 1 male; I don't think what he does is so accidental as it is territorial. We have been at a loss as how to break him of his bad habit of lifting his leg to leave his mark here and there in the house - mostly in the basement. He is a sneaky little booger when it comes to it and tries to do it when no one is looking. If I realize he has slunk down the stairs to the cellar, I immediately ask if he needs to go out. If so, he let's me know right away with a little circular dance of excitement. I try to leave him out at least 5 minutes longer than the females so he can run around the yard spritzing bushes, walls, trees or flower pots to his tiny heart's content. That way he seems much less likely to do it inside but he is still tempted from time to time. He now has a favorite spot in the rear of the basement, away from the carpet and on the concrete floor. better than on the carpet but still in the house. I have heard that if I clean the area well, then start feeding him snacks right atop the areas on which he used to pee, he will be cured of this bad habit. Sort of like not shitting where you eat - this just differs by the consistency of the leavings.

Needless to say, his bad habit, and the occasional accidents by the females (usually only the female Chihuahua - it is rare indeed for the 2 larger dogs to have an accident) cause one heck of bunch of messes. Albeit, the messes are usually small ones because most are from the Chihuahuas but it adds up even though I attend to the messes promptly once found and give the area a good cleaning. I soak up as much of the wetness with paper towels as I can, then clean the spots as best I can with some dog stain/mess remover that is supposed to get rid of stains and kill or prevent any odors. The thing is, it does not work quite as well as advertised. Warmer and more humid weather, such as mid spring, reminds us that under the carpet there is still some buildup that has not been broken down by the enzymatic action of the cleaner. Lately though, I did not need the reminder as the little guy has been more territorial than usual for some reason or another.

A cleaning was overdo so, last night I went to see Homer at the Depot. I rented a carpet cleaner and bought a bottle of carpet cleaning detergent made specifically for that type of cleaner. When got home, from Home Depot, I started moving things out of the carpeted room. This included moving out some furniture and leaving some that would simply be moved from one end of the room to the other as I would clean today. Today, I started the cleaning at about 0945. I was done with half of the room, including moving some furniture back and forth, buy about 1100. By 1115, I was upstairs waking my son up so he could give me a hand moving some of the heavier stuff I had left at one end of the room. We would move it to the other end, I would vacuum, then use the carpet cleaner and Brendan went upstairs to have coffee or whatever. As I was vacuuming, I got zapped a good one. Don't know how or why but somehow something sent a good bolt of electricity into my left wrist, up my left arm, through my torso, down my left leg and out my left ankle. I also got a zap in my right wrist but not as bad as the left. I almost fell over it was that strong. The vacuum wand had come in contact with the TV cable. I don't know if it is not shielded enough or if it was something else, maybe some of my perspiration dripped into the vacuum handle or into the wiring that runs down the wand to the power head(I think one of those more likely than something due to the TV cable) but I felt it and felt it bad! I had to stop doing what I was doing for a couple of minutes to make sure I was okay. As a matter of fact my left wrist is still painful and has a small burn hole where it went in. My left arm is still feeling it too. My left ankle has a tiny burn hole too, I guess where I grounded.

After that, things went on as planned. I cleaned the areas from which we had moved this or that, then called Brendan to move one other piece, cleaned there, then moved it back, then began to move most things back tot he TV end of the room. I only flipped out once, when the vacuum cleaner cord somehow got all wrapped around the carpet cleaner cord causing me to have a fairly severe conniption of yelling at no one in particular and tossing the vacuum cleaner across about 1/4 of the room. Luckily it landed on the sofa. Not that it mattered much if it had a soft landing, I just ordered a new vacuum cleaner yesterday - how shockingly timely - almost. Our current one is falling apart and I guess that was pretty evident when it almost lit me up like Uncle Fester with a light bulb in his mouth.

Well, once I got over myself getting shocked and then being an asshole and I apologized to my son for the brief conniption and we got to moving furniture back into its proper places. A few things, the bases of which sit flat against the floor will have to wait. All of the things we moved back have legs, that way the air blown about by our dehumidifier can circulate under them to hasten drying. I have got to say, it smells much better down here now. The trick is going to be keeping it that way. That will mean somehow keeping Pepe (named after Pepe Le Pew) from leaving his mark by brandishing his tiny squirting sword inside the house much as Zorro (translates to the Fox) used to leave his epee (no pun intended or was one) slash on the outside of houses. While both may have been less than the best of habits, at least Zorro's "Z" did not smell bad. As I said, there is supposed to be a way to accomplish this goal even in dogs that have grown accustomed to squirting here and there inside the home. I am going to give it a try now that everything is smelling like roses fresh carpeting again. After all, I'd prefer to keep it this way rather than him reverting to his old ways, even if his old ways sort of mimic those of one of my childhood heroes.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Buy Guns, Buy Ammo, Buy Gun Parts, Buy Reloading Equipment & Supplies...

...BUY NOW! You may not be able to buy them as freely, as you can now, in the near future.

Our leader, the one who bowed to the Saudi King (and others) yet apparently has repeatedly insulted many of our other allies, the one under whom we have seen sky-high gasoline prices for longer than any other period, the one who has caused more debt than through the presidencies of over 40 presidents before him combined, the one who has socialized our medical system and caused prices to sky rocket before it even has been implemented fully, the one who has refused to support our allies in the Middle-East and watched them be overthrown by Islamic Extremists as he seemingly dawdles, the one who wants to implement Cap & Trade and continues to hammer us with apparently false claims of man made global warming, the one who will be responsible for a huge increase in our electric rates should he implement cap & trade, the one who is responsible for the worst economy we have seen since the 1930s, the one who hired an accused tax cheat as the head of the Dept. of Treasury, the one who hired an alleged radical as head of the Dept. of Justice, the one who followed a pastor who said God Damn America, the one who promised to end two wars but started a third while escalating at least one of the others, the one under whose administration guns were sold to gun runners an those gun runners then were allowed to smuggle them to drug cartels in Mexico resulting in the death(s) of U.S. Agent(s), did you get that - that this administration is in essence allegedly responsible for gun running to Mexico and now he wants to pass a law making it tougher for regular citizens to run guns to Mexico( what hypocrisy), the one who... do I really need to go on other than to say he is now the one who now wants to start restricting our right to keep and bear arms and to do so under the radar. Under the radar - heck, wasn't he the one who promised the most transparent government in our history! I guess though doing it under the radar should come as no surprise since when passing health care reform, not one Senator or Congressman had time to read the actual bill before voting on it. Sneakiness in passing laws or legal restrictions seems to be nothing new for this president, so why be different with an attempt to violate the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms.

Read about it here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/28/obama-administration-eyeing-gun-control-radar-groups-warn/

It seems to me, we are headed toward nothing short of a violence prone tyranny and in fact are probably under a soft tyranny right now. I wonder, how much further he can push onward in his destruction of our rights by ignoring the basis of our law and the guarantee of our rights found within the U.S. Constitution? If this goes unabated, if the Republican party does not trounce him on this, and if he is not politically defeated in 2012 or sooner, then I am afraid a revolution, probably a violent one at that, cannot be all that far in our future. I do not advocate violent revolution (except as was seen necessary within the Declaration of Independence) but I cannot imagine it not happening at the rate the current president seems, to me, to be destroying our rights and our country.

The above was my personal opinion.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Critters Are Thickening - Snake Eggs

When I got home from work this evening, I went into the back room of the basement to do a little bit of maintenance work on the turtle tank and to feed all the water critters in the tanks. I had a decent stock of Mosquito Fish and Ghost Shrimp on hand for their dinner. I thought it would be a normal feeding and a regular weekly to biweekly maintenance of the turtle tank consisting of siphoning out some water through the upright tubes of the under-gravel filter. When I tried to tug off the top section of a tube as usual, it wound up sticking and I tugged harder. It did not come apart as it usually does but brought up the whole bottom section of the filter. In other words, it made a mess inside the tank by releasing all the dirty water from under the filter into the rest of the tank. I decided to take the whole tank down and clean it. I was not happy but was okay with it, it was just a simple mistake. Wow, I must be getting better or something because I was not cursing and screaming and blaming someone else for my misfortune but was fixing it instead.

While I was doing that, the dryer started to screech or at least shrilly whistle its notice that a load was complete. I set it for another 20 minutes and ignored it. I kept at cleaning the turtle tank and then my son came down to see me. I was about half way through cleaning the tank and he says: "Hey - did she lay eggs? Holy shitoot did you see all the eggs". I had not seen anything of the sort and at first wondered if he was talking about the new female African Clawed Frog then suddenly realized he said something about the corn snakes! I simply said "No".

I got Brendan to empty the trash and move some stuff to help make my job easier and I put it into overdrive on getting the turtle tank done. Then I attended to the eggs, which luckily looked none too dehydrated from having been laid in a tank with no egg laying box full of damp peat or other damp substrate. I was surprised she had laid eggs with no notice. The female Corn Snake had not shed, heck she had not even gone into the blue phase and there she was already done laying 11 eggs. They usually shed before laying by at least a week or so. Maybe she had gone through the pre-egg laying shed before I got her a couple of weeks ago, but still, she never showed any swelling at the rear potion of her body as they normally do, at least a few to several days, before egg laying. Oh well, the eggs looked healthy. I made up an incubator for them and got them into it, covered them in some damp long cut sphagnum peat moss and put a heater in the incubator set at 82 degrees. I did that from memory even though I have not incubated snake eggs in at least a few years. Hopefully it is the right temp. I know it is close enough to be okay, though I may have to tweak it a bit. It is better the temp is a bit low than cooking them at a bit too high. I am also hopeful they were not too cool for too long since she laid them. I did not look at her tank since last night. I imagine she laid them throughout the late afternoon today because none looked too dehydrated. Since the tank was pretty dry, with no damp egg laying spot ready for her, chances are they would have looked sunken in by the time Brendan spotted them had the female corn snake laid them last night or early this morning. They look okay and that is good.

As for the female corn snake, she looks pooped. I took the male out and left her alone to recuperate. In a couple to a few days, I will feed her a small mouse. After she gets some strength back, I will feed her larger and larger mice until she is gobbling down 1 or 2 full grown adults once per week. She may yet lay another clutch this year as the male was tending to her just last week.

It was all a bit hectic for a short while there but all seems well now. After getting done with those two unexpected chores, I went upstairs, grabbed the blender and put a cup of OJ, two bananas and three pieces of pineapple the size of bananas into it. Then I added a tray and a half of ice cubes. I gave a glass to my wife, saved a glass for my daughter, and took the other for myself. Brendan had already headed to the gym and was missing out on it. To mine, I added a coup,e to a few shots of rum. About 1/2 light rum and the other half dark rum. Mmmm, it was good and took of the edge. I usually just let the edge keep me edgy until I relax in front of the tube or while blogging but tonight the drink did the trick. Nectar of the gods it was, so to speak! After that, or while I was still at it really, we had dinner - Sushi. I am not a big fan of that stuff, just too expensive and overrated at that but it was okay especially since i was graced with the company of my two favorite gals, my wife and my daughter!

Well, that's it for now, I am going to go plop down on the couch and watch a show or three or maybe a movie if I can find a dent sci-fi movie.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Croaking Critters Batman - Looks Like We've Got Us Another Frog

For quite some time now, Bill has been part of our collection of critters. Bill is an African Clawed Frog. Brendan got him somewhere, last year i guess, and put it into our large fish tank. He did well in there as did the fish, that is until he got big enough to eat one of my South American Rams. Then he got his arse transferred to the tank in which our Anderson's Underwater Salamanders are housed. He is too big to be eaten by the salamanders and too small to eat them. It is a good set-up.

Tonight, I picked up another African Clawed Frog, one much bigger than Bill. The young lady who gave it to me told me it is a female. She had to give it up because of a move to another apartment. I am guessing she was right about her frog being a female based on this new frog's size alone. Female African Clawed Frogs grow larger than the males and this one has Bill by about half his size again. When I got home, I heard Brendan moping about and called him down to the basement. He was duly impressed by the new addition. I put her in with Bill and the salamanders. Normally, I do not name my reptiles or amphibians but Bill is Brendan's and was named by him. When he saw the new female and her size he immediately gave her the moniker of Bertha. Bill & Bertha, if my mom would hear that she would get a laugh - those were the names of two of her friends a few to several years back. Oh well, I suppose the names will stick.


I can only hope that Bertha does not eat Bill (no she is not attacking him in the pic to the right but it sure looks suggestive of her considering him as a tasty morsel). These frogs have voracious appetites and often eat anything that gets close and that fits in their mouths. The salamanders are too big but Bill is of questionable size. Since the males in nature do not achieve anywhere near the size of the females though, I am guessing if I keep Bertha well fed she will not eat Bill. I mean, in nature males are smaller and could readily be eaten by the larger females yet these frogs thrive. So my guess is that adults do not cannibalize one another; well anyway, I am hoping they do not do so.


The only other concern I have about Bertha, other than that she might eat Bill, is that she possibly has an injury or growth at the point where her tail would have been as a froglet before fully turning into a tailless adult. When I picked her up earlier tonight, I only saw her through the semi-opaque top of the container she was inside. I thought she actually retained a nub of the tail into adulthood. I have seen some frogs like that before. When I got her home and opened the container, I realized it was probably an injury to her cloacal lips (yes you read that right - cloacal lips - go figure). It looks like the lips may have been torn or are possibly infected. I am pretty sure it may be a minor injury or irritation and am hoping I am right. An injury will likely heal completely within a few days to a week or two. If it is a growth or infection it could be caused by a number of things like parasites, bacteria or a virus. In that case, shame on me for not quarantining her for a couple of weeks but, in a moment of brain fart esters, I put her right in with the other critters I mentioned above. If it is an illness then I may have just spread it to the others. I hope not. It could also have been the result of a prolapsed cloaca (the cloaca is the single common opening in reptiles & amphibians for passing feces and urea and for reproduction). Whatever, time will tell and I am not going to worry about it now.

Bertha should have a good life with us. If all goes well she will enhance Bill's life and he her's and maybe they will mate. If they do, I imagine most of the eggs will be eaten by the salamanders but if I find some in there I will remove them and see if I can get them to hatch and then raise the tadpoles. That would be an interesting set of events and I can always give froglets to a pet shop (I know a decent one that takes good care of their stock) or I can give them to Long Island Herpetological Society members. Since I would only raise a relative handful, it would be no problem getting them to good homes.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Soldiers' Angels - New Soldier Assigned (or is it I am assigned to the soldier)

Well, my last soldier was coming home and Soldiers' Angels told me to stop sending him packages. So I asked for another soldier to be assigned to me. I finally got round to getting some shopping done for a care package and it is now boxed and ready to go. I just need to take it to the post office, fill out the Customs declaration and mail it out. It is a good feeling to know that doing a little thing like this might be making it easier for a soldier and the others in his unit. I highly recommend it.

Once again, my soldier is in Afghanistan. This one's name is Jeffrey (all I can give is the first name) and he is in the National Guard. Hopefully the package will find him well and will help pick up his spirits. I figure I'll be sending a package once to twice a month. In another 5 months or so, I may again ask for some help for the holiday season packages - but not yet.

All the best,
Glenn B

School's Out - Grades Are In...

...and my son told me he got a B-, a B+, an A- and an A. Not too shabby, in fact pretty darned good. I told him, last semester or early this one, that he needed to buckle down and get some A's. He did just that. It may require some form of reward - maybe a few bucks for gas (well enough for a tank anyhow, so more than just a few) and a dinner and couple of beers at the restaurant of his choosing. If you read this young man, let me know where and when!

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Site Visits and The End Of The World As We Know It

I have to show you this, it is a chart, from SiteMeter, showing my blog's unique visits from folks over the last week (click it to big it). Last week, I blogged a lot about doom, gloom, Judgement Day and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). That was mostly all with a preparedness undertone. People sure seemed to like it but of course I had all the hype, about May 21, 2011 having been predicted to be Judgement Day, helping me along. Now though, I am back in my old boring self and back in the groove of having about 80 or so unique site visits a day. Oh well, another day in Paradise as opposed to fighting zombies and demons.
With that said, allow me to also say thanks to those of you who remain loyal readers and welcome to any new ones.
All the best,
Glenn B

A Living Jewel - The Corn Snake

A Corn Snake entwined hand, in my eyes, is more beautiful than a jewel laden hand any day. I, like most other folks, am enamored by the beauty of gemstones and of finely crafted jewelry but I think none of it can compare to the splendor to be found in a fine specimen of Corn Snake. In this current instance, I may be a bit more biased than usual, toward the mindset just expressed, in as much as pictured corn snake is mine - as is the hand (thank goodness my fingernails were clean). Click the pic to enlarge.

I got this snake, sold to me as a variety known as an Okeetee Corn Snake, a week and a half or so ago. She, yes it is a female, was accompanied by her suitor who was of quite the amorous nature when I bought them at the most recent monthly meeting of the Long Island Herpetological Society (LIHS). He is quite the different color variety being an albino or amelanistic color morph. That simply means he lacks melanin or black pigmentation seen in this female. It gives him a different look indeed but he is the same species of snake as is the female. The male reportedly is not just a regular albino corn snake but supposedly a Reverse Okeetee. Reverse Okeetees have wide contrasting white rings around the darker blotches. Regardless of the color differences though both are the same species. The variety of color morphs among corn snakes are due either to natural selection due to geographical separation thus making them color morphs and or sub-species or due to selective breeding this making them different color morphs. The species scientific classification is: Elaphe guttata guttata, sometimes also know by a newer classification as: Pantherophis guttatus.

Regardless of color variety, Corn Snakes make excellent pets (and great schoolroom studies) for those inclined to keep or study snakes/reptiles or for parents who were talked into buying one on impulse by their child(ren). Mind you, in the latter case, chances are that once the child is bored, the responsible parent will wind up taking care of the snakes (any parent getting a snake for a child needs to expect either to be the main care giver or to take a good part in the care of it). That is okay if at the same time, the parents instill a sense of responsibility about pet care to their child(ren) and thus quite possibly reignite that ember of interest within the child. I can tell you, for most parents in that situation - at least for most responsible parents - once they have been tempted by the allure of these beautiful serpents it is hard to lose all interest in them. What often happens is the parent takes up the interest where the child left off. If you are among the lucky parents who has researched the topic first and involved your child(ren) in the research in a fun way, then the chances are much greater that your kid(s) will become budding young herpetologists or at least life long pet keepers and as I said,
Corn Snakes make great pets (click on the link for a care sheet). Believe me, if you like them, your children probably will grow into them in one way or another by the time they are married with kids.

So what makes them such a great pet. Well, first of all, compared to a dog or cat, they do not require daily handling or petting. In fact, daily handling is something, if not frowned upon, that should be kept to a minimum although corn snakes adapt fairly well to handling. Most of them will probably tolerate being gently handled once or twice a day for about 15 to 30 minutes each session. By handling I mean allowing them to crawl from hand to hand as you repeatedly move one hand in front of the other as the snake attempts to crawl away through your hands.

They are, in general as a species goes, a docile snake. While all snakes have recurved teeth and all can bite, corn snakes rarely bite in captivity with babies being more likely to defensively bite than adults. Since they usually quickly adapt to being handled, defensive biting usually is a rare occurrence once they become accustomed to handling. Bites when a snake anticipates feeding can be another thing so it is wise to place food animals into their enclosures using tongs. Since snakes use their sense of smell as a primary method to locate prey items, if they repeatedly smell both a hand and prey item at the same time they begin to associate the smell of the hand with their next meal and thus may bite the hand that feeds them. A bite from a corn snake can draw blood but is usually a minimal injury, and is less injurious if you just let it bite until it lets go or until you can remove it from you. What you do not want to do when a smaller sized non-venomous snake bites, and probably likewise with a big one but I would rather not be bitten by a giant python because that would be a major wound, is you do not want to jerk the bitten appendage, such as your hand, away from the snake. You may get your hand free but usually with several of those recurved teeth imbedded in the skin. As I said though, a bite from a corn snake, if you do not try to jerk away from it or out of its grip, is usually minimal. Corn Snakes, unlike many Kingsnakes, do not usually chew repeatedly when they bite and usually soon let go if they bite you instead of a mouse. Such a bite may amount to slightly broken skin to two rows of shallow pin pricks that draw a few to several beads of blood. It is almost always more a thing that people are afraid of than something that hurts a lot. Bear in mind - a dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, ferret, parrot, turtle, tortoise, brother or sister could give a bite of much more dire consequences. Well that is most of the fear factor having been taken care of but there is one more thing.

Corn Snakes are carnivores. They eat animals, usually whole animals as do all snakes in nature. Corn Snakes are, by nature, opportunistic feeders to a great extent. In the wilds they will eat: rodents, birds, bird’s eggs, lizards, frogs and possibly other snakes. Their preferred diet as adults seems to be rodents and thus one of the possible and probable origins of their name. Since they have an affinity for rodents, they are oft times found near agricultural areas and especially at places where small rodents are drawn in great numbers. One such place are corn cribs and silos. Some believe they got their name due to this attraction to places where mice and other small rodents often are found in good numbers. Of course, if you paid attention to the pic of the female corn snake, well - you may have guessed the other possible origin of the name Corn Snake. There bellies, in natural occurring varieties of Corn Snake resemble a certain type of corn - Indian Corn. Regardless of the origin of their name, they do eat rodents and therein lies the second fear factor in owning a pet Corn Snake. Some moms and dads just cannot tolerate live rodents or see little furry animals being killed by the snake before they are eaten. Even then these snakes make good pets since almost every corn snake I have ever owned readily took to eating dead mice. When I kept a large number of rodent eating snakes, I often bought frozen mice for them and thawed them out as needed for meals. (Yes, my wife is a saint to allow rodents in our freezer.) I can tell you, if I keep these two Corn Snakes, I will be buying frozen mice for them again since I can get them as low as .40 cents apiece by a 50 pack and single mice in pet shops now go for as much or more than 2.99 apiece (plus tax)!

Lest you think it very expensive to feed a corn snake, especially if you buy mice at the pet shop, you should know this: Corn Snakes can be fed on average of one mouse once per week (maybe 2 mice per feeding for a large one. Feeding them only once per week means a few good things for the keeper. First of all, even if you fed them every week during the year it would only amount to 52 feedings. If a mouse cost $3.00 then food for one corn snake for the year may only cost you $156.00. In temperate climates they will sometimes need to brumate (hibernate) for a few months and therefore not eat during that period thus saving you money. Compare that feeding bill to a dog’s or cat’s feeding bill and you will see it is much less expensive a proposition.

Another big plus of them eating only once per week is that you usually only need to do a complete enclosure clean-up once per week. You understand don't you? Yep, they eat once a week and usually only poop once a week. Since urine passes as a white chalky substance along with their stool, it is usually a single clean-up per meal. No daily walking or litter box cleanings necessary.

What they do need on a daily basis is fresh water. Supply water in a small bowl that is unlikely to be tipped over. Available clean water is a must, 24/7, even when they brumate. During brumation they are not asleep as some animals in hibernation but go through sleep and waking periods and are much less active than normal but do still require water in their enclosures.

Since snakes can be kept in a relatively small enclosure, the largest corn snake not really needing an enclosure larger than a 20 gallon long fish tank (although larger is certainly fine and maybe better) you can see they can be a good choice for small apartment dwellers. The tank or other enclosure must be escape proof. If snakes are good at something it is at squeezing through small holes or through narrow cracks and crevices. So make sure it is secure. Any lid or door must be securable, don't just place lid atop a tank and not expect the snake to push it off or at least to loosen it enough for the snake to escape. To the enclosure, you will need to add a suitable substrate. I prefer cypress mulch or shavings. Note, I did not say cedar shavings or cedar mulch. Cedar is toxic to reptiles and amphibians. I always use something absorbent to help absorb any spilled water or any poop. Snakes poops are relatively solid but sometimes can be a bit wet to runny. This can be a once in a while thing in a healthy snake but if persistent is a sign of illness. Other than that, all that needs to be added to the inside of a Corn Snake enclosure is a hide box and maybe a climbing branch.

Snakes are ectotherms, or animals that require outside temperatures to regulate their bodily functions. This means they will almost always require a heat source for their enclosures. A heat pad, made specifically for snake tanks or enclosures, can be attached to the bottom of a glass tank. These are very low wattage and quality ones are great heat sources for snakes. Other choices are heat tape (very similar to the heat pads) heat lamps, or ceramic heat emitters that screw into lighting fixtures. In general, the basking end of the tank should reach about 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit for a Corn Snake. The other end of the enclosure should be about normal room temperatures of about 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temps can drop into the upper 60s with no ill effects. I keep the heating pad on 24/7 so the snake always has a choice of warmer or cooler areas. I never place a heat emitting device, like a hot bulb or ceramic emitter, over an area also warmed by a heat pad - this is asking for trouble in the way of a fire hazard or an overheated snake. If a snake is spending virtually all of its time at one end the temps are wrong. It means the temps is too high if it stays at the cool end almost all of the time or it means the temps are too low if it stays at the warm end almost all of the time. Being ectothermal, they move back and forth from warmer to cooler temperatures as needed for functions such as digestion. They also like to hide a lot so make sure they have at least one hide box at the cooler end of the enclosure. I sometimes have one at each end.

By now, maybe you have realized another plus to keeping corn snakes. The expense, overall, is not that great. The highest costs come when you first buy the snake and the enclosure and accessories. After that there is a bit of a charge for electricity, the cost of weekly feedings and the cost of substrate. By the way, I recommend changing the substrate completely about once per week or every two weeks. Don't go beyond that even if you think you scooped out all fecal matter during weekly tank clean-ups as little bits can cause bacteria to grow. Another reason I prefer Cypress is that it retards bacterial growth from what I can tell.

There are yet a few other aspects of snake biology that make them fascinating as pets. One is how they move about. With no legs, no feet, no arms and no hands it is a trick indeed but they get around exceptionally well. In fact, Corn Snakes are great climbers as well as being able to crawl round on the ground or swim in bodies of water. They are often found in trees probably in search of birds and also are often found in the rafters of barns.

A second fascinating set of aspects about snakes, in addition to the handicap of being limbless, is their ability to sense, track, capture, overpower and eat prey animals. Imagine for a moment that your life depended upon your hunting ability and that you were extremely near sighted had no hands to catch an animal, or to hold a knife and fork to help you eat the animal once you bagged it and had no legs on which to chase it. How well would you do? A snake does just fine in that regard. How does the snake do it? First of all, they locate and follow prey using a highly developed sense of smell, or they lie in ambush after locating a likely spot with the same sense. They smell by catching air particles on their forked tongues and transferring them to the Jacobson’s Organ in the roof of their mouths. This is such a good system they can actually determine direction of travel of a prey item by it and can also detect such things as mates and water sources with it. Once they find the scent of a prey animal, they track it using the same organ or lie in wait. They use either serpentine or rectilinear motion (mostly) to move along in their pursuit of a meal. When they encounter a meal (either by tracking it down or by waiting in ambush) they strike at it and grasp it with those recurved teeth I mentioned earlier. A corn snake is a constrictor and kills its prey by wrapping coils of its body around the animal and squeezing harder each time the animal exhales. In a brief time the animal suffocates. They snake will then seemingly sniff around it before eating it - then will usually eat it head first. It has jaws that can work independently of one another, one side holding the prey in place as the other side - both being able to expand greatly - moves forward and grabs more of the animal. Each side alternates until the prey item is well into the throat or esophagus when muscle contraction takes over and moves the prey item in to the stomach. They not only successfully find, catch, dispatch and eat prey but they can eat animals wider in girth than they are themselves. After eating, they usually go into a suitable place to hide for at least several days to weeks before going on the prowl again.

As they eat, they grow; in fact snakes grow throughout their lifetimes, just slower as adults. As they grow, their outer layer of skin does not grow, at least not much. So, when they grow in girth and length, the outer skin must be replaced from time to time. Snakes, therefore, go through another amazing biological process, that of ecdysis or shedding. As they grow and the old outer layer of skin becomes too small, they begin to produce a new layer of skin under the old. In order for this new layer to become the actual new outer layer, they must shed the old outer layer. As they prepare to shed most snakes will appear to become dull, their skin looks milky or cloudy somewhat and often has a slightly subdued hazy bluish hue. Even their once very clear eye scales become cloudy. During this phase they tend to stay in hiding; captive snakes should not be handled when in this stage. After a couple to a few weeks, they again look clear and regain pretty much their usual appearance. A few to several days after this, they usually begin to shed the old layer of outer skin starting at the tip of the snout. It often comes off, like a sock being pulled of inside out, all in one piece. What emerges is a snake with a new shinier outer skin that looks absolutely stunning especially in the case of a snake like the Corn Snake. After this, they often go on the prowl for prey almost immediately.

There is a lot more to learn about them. They are interesting creatures but I will leave it to you to find out some more things on your own - that is if you have an interest in them now that I have told you something about them.

If you want to keep them as pets, there are many places to find more information about them. Many books have been published ion the subject and many websites dedicated to their care in captivity. If you decide to get one, I recommend captive bred and born specimens. Some populations of wild Corn Snakes are endangered. They are literally bred by the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, in captivity each year. So, buying captive bred Corn Snakes puts no strain on wild populations. Among the best places to acquire them are from dealers at reptile expos, from breeders, from reputable online dealers or from reptile specialty shops. I do not recommend, in fact I recommend against, getting them as general pet shops, especially large chain pet shops where animal care seemingly is often not up to par.

All in all they make a great easy to care for pet, and are among the most beautiful of all snakes.

All the best,
Glenn B


Print References:

Keeping and Breeding Corn Snakes by Michael J. McEachern, 1992. Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc.

A Color Guide to Corn Snakes by Michael J. McEachern, 1991. Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc.

Corn Snakes and Other Rat Snakes: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Richard Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett, 1996. Barrons.

The Corn Snake Manual by Bill and Cathy Love, 2000. Advanced Vivarium Systems, Inc.


Corn Snake Forums:

In The USA:

Foreign:


Places To Buy Corn Snakes (none endorsed or recommended, just some options):

http://www.reptileexpo.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

I've Got A Few Things I'd Like To Blog About...

...but no time to do it, not tonight anyhow. I have to be back at work early in the morning, very early in the morning, long before the sun even starts to peek at the horizon, let alone starts to come above it. With that said, allow me to say: Goodnight.

All the best,
GB

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Sunday - Were You Judged?

I have no idea if Judgement Day actually came and went yesterday but I think not. I think it was just another day despite the volcanic eruption in Iceland, or the earthquake in San Fransicko, or the earthquake near some South Pacific islands or the flooding of biblical proportions in the southern USA.

Life seems to be going on as usual, I hope so though a change for the better would be nice - something along the lines of all of us getting along with one another but I am not kidding myself into believing it is coming in my lifetime. So, while I hope for the best, I remain prepared for the worst.

I hope you all enjoy a fine Sunday since it appears that we made it through one more prediction of doom & gloom.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Judgement Day - We Were Safe, But Oh-Oh...

...a Volcano Is Erupting in Iceland. Granted, this is Iceland's most active volcano but if anything else starts happening along the lines of eruptions or earthquakes, I will not be easy for the rest of the night. Nah, I really don't believe in all this end of the world stuff but then again I do not really believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Great Pumpkin. Yet, every year those three bring me goodies at certain special times. While I am certainly not religious and do not believe in some wonderfully munificent or maybe wrathful omnipotent being - Mother Nature, or The Force or maybe even God Almighty has always taken good care of me and has been pretty nasty toward some others. What I am trying to say is that I am not taking chances. So, I will be checking the media all night tonight to see if anything else like that upstart of a volcano is acting up. If so, I may just find myself on my knees and praying; I like to cover all the possibilities and to stay prepared for just about anything.

Other than that, I have been a bit more busy than usual today for a Saturday. I have been cleaning my basement up a bit in anticipation of a future. I mean, why make it look good for the end of days! That would be really silly.

Getting back to that volcano erupting, I would be willing to bet that some of the holier than thou types who predicted this would be Judgement Day just about got so overjoyed that they probably peed themselves when and if they heard the news. People are weird and holy people are just about the weirdest, right up there with some scientists and politicians.

Later for you,
Glenn B

The End Of The World - Nothing Noticeable Yet...

...no earthquakes, no eruptions, no tsunamis, no floods, no bodies or souls rising from the dead (no zombies) that I have heard tell about, no horsemen, no demons, no people rising up into the clouds with Jesus. Of course all could be happening on the QT but I think maybe it just is not going to be today. I guess all my preparations will need to be used on another day, during another SHTF situation, should one arise and hit us hard. That though is just that for which I have always planned. I am a child of the Cold War, Civil Defense and Preparedness, The Twilight Zone and all that, and my mom told me stories about the Great Depression, so what would you expect.

Of course, I am hopeful that they did not mean 6PM perverted coast San Fransicko time. Whatever, my supplies are ready for any event at any time. If I live through it, I will have food, water, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, guns and ammo on hand as usual. One just never knows when one might be faced with TEOTWAWKI or just a really bad SHTF incident and I choose to be prepared.

Hope to blog for you all in the AM tomorrow.

All the best,
GB

Israel Statement By President Obama Has Ended The World As We Knew It

Did you miss it? How could you have been so blind as to have not seen it or that deaf to have not heard it. It was on Thursday, that the president announced it in a speech and yesterday that he discussed it with the Israeli prime minister. President Barack Hussein Obama has reversed decades of the foreign policy of the United States of America when it comes to one of its staunchest allies - Israel! I imagine it was only a matter of time before he came out and told the Israelis that he was more aligned with the Palestinians and other Muslim nations, I mean - remember this is the guy who bowed, and bowed low, to a Saudi king. It is quite possible that Judgement Day is really upon us and that both people and a Divine power are judging that decision today. There is no doubt in my mind that the president's decision to tell the Israelis they most pull there borders back to what they were prior to the 1967 War was a bad one. Bad for Israel, bad for the United States and bad for any other nation that would or has supported the Israelis. I can only hope our apparent abandonment of our once firm policy on Israel does not lead to dire consequences.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, May 20, 2011

The End of The World Upon Us - I Have Stocked Up On Some Extra Supplies

Only about 21 hours and 38 minutes to go before the predicted onset of Judgement Day. While Judgement Day is not slated to be the end of the world or mankind, it may prove to be a rough time even though October 21, 2011 is slated as the day the world ends. With all this in mind, I went to Costco this evening and stocked up on some supplies. I figure we now have enough emergency supplies in the larder to last us 3 to 4 weeks, not including whatever foodstuffs we have on hand normally.

So what did I get. I picked up a variety of food items as can be seen in the accompanying picture. Shame on me for only buying one case of fruit cups, thought I had two. Everything else is there in sufficient quantity to help us make it through a week or two. Add that to what we already had on hand for emergencies and we are good to go about 4 weeks. About the only thing we may not have enough of is water in bottles. I do have several jugs of water, probably another 10 gallons, plus another case of bottles, plus a case of Iced Tea. We also have a water filter that we could use to clean up any water we might need to collect. Besides foodstuffs and water, I have first aide supplies, gas masks and filters, flashlights, batteries, blankets, candles, emergency tools, guns,ammo, precious metal bullion coins, and other things at the ready.

Why am I doing this? It is not because of predictions of cataclysmic doom caused by a Divine power. To understand my reasons all you have to do is take a look around the world at recent disasters that have taken place. Look at what there is a chance could happen, maybe is even likely to happen, to us. Terrorists have already attacked us and want to do it again on a larger scale. Mother nature has been slamming us as of late; storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes all seem to be on the rise in number and in power. We are faced with what some say is global warming, others say is climate change, and I think is just a way for politicians to milk us dry. We also currently face economic huge hardships and possibly will face economic collapse in the not to distant future. Besides all that, we have enemies around the world that are continually building up nuclear arsenals. Look at North Korea, Iran, Red China (I guess nowadays just called China), and the former states of the USSR. They are almost all nuclear capable and if not then are on the verge of being so. Then look at the mid-east and all the revolutions going on there. The governments that will take over are unknown factors except form one thing; they are all Muslim dominated and that could be a problem, for the U.S.A and our ally Israel, that could lead to war. Heck we are already involved in three wars as it is, we do not need another. Then, as of today, or was it yesterday, our president basically told one of our staunchest allies in the world to go screw themselves. Yes, I am referring to the president saying that Israel should go back to pre-1967 boundaries and the Muslim nations saying even that is not enough. We are, in essence, living during the potential eve of destruction without any help from a pissed off God coming to judge us for the final time. So, all that less than supernatural jazz is enough to make me want to take precautions. It always has been enough, ever since I was a young kid during the height of the Cold War. So, I don't need the threat of the wrath of God, demons, zombies or aliens from another world to make me realize that I should be prepared to take care of the ones I love. I was brought up to make such preparations because there I was taught there is always a chance that if you are prepared you possibly can survive the worst kind of disaster.

Now, before you think I may be going overboard, let me tell you this: All the things I bought this evening only cost me about $115.00. Add about the same to that for a total that is close to double that amount and that is the food I have on hand for emergencies - figure about $230 worth. All of the other emergency supplies I have ready probably cost no more than the total of all the food I have. So, maybe I have spent about $460 on emergency supplies. Now think about what just happened in Japan after the Tsunami. Imagine you were stuck in your home after a similar disaster - maybe due to a volcanic eruption, earthquake, floods, storms, or whatever. Or imagine another Great Depression. That is not, or should not be, too far fetched with our present economy! Would you be ready to survive a few weeks in your home before help arrived or would it be that you were to cheap to make some basic preparations for hard times and thus will caught in a bind if it happens here. As for my family, we would be prepared for at least a few weeks of bad times. As time goes on, and as I add more supplies, especially those that can be stored for the long term, I am figuring we will be able to make it through at least a half a year on what I plan to have in stock. Yep, I don't need an angry God, demons unleashed or a zombie apocalypse to get me thinking of how to make it should things go really bad. All I have to do is look around the world and there is more than enough incentive out there to get me doing it without having to worry about doom sayers with their predictions of TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it ).

All the best,
Glenn B

Some Music For The End Of Days

With only about 38 hours and 44 minutes to go before what some are claiming will be the beginning of the end, Judgement Day, I figured I would pick out a selection of music by which to end it all. They all sort of fit in with the theme in one way or another. This post will take a little extra time to load even though I cut a lot of songs out of the original posting. (What irony - taking extra time to load when we may have run out of time!) It now has 24 songs - one for each hour of the Judgement Day.


EDITED TO ADD: THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN, I WILL BE REMOVING ONE SONG PER HOUR (ON AVERAGE IN INTERVALS OF ABOUT 6 HOURS) UNTIL WE ARE THROUGH THE DAY:




Hopefully we will all still be listening to it come Sunday morning.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday: Update On Judgement Day, Demons Of The Apocalypse, Doomsday, Zombies Rising Up From The Dead And Sex

We have about 65 hours and 59 minutes until the end of the world as we know it (or so some would have you believe). Have you done anything to prepare yourselves yet? I asked my son about it and he laughed at the idea (or was it at me). Anyway, I talked to him for about 2 minutes after that and the next thing I knew he was loading magazines for his AR-15 and our AK-47s. Not because he believes the end of the world is coming but because, after our little talk, he understands it is better to be ready for something and not have needed to take the precautions than to not be ready and suddenly realize, in the middle of a shitstorm bad situation, that you are totally unprepared for it. All this Armageddon jazz just brings this all to mind, so why not take advantage of it.

Me, I have not done much else than blog about it, because my stuff has been ready. Well, I did clean some guns but that is not so much in preparation for doomsday as it is just good maintenance and good preparation for any circumstance in which I may have need for a flawlessly functioning firearm. You know, like all of a sudden I hear scratching on my doors and windows and hear moaning and people screaming and gurgling ripping of flesh sounds and I realize that a horde of zombies has descended on the neighborhood and are all around my house just waiting to either get their next meal or be exterminated. Me, I choose not to wind up as their next entree and I kind of like the idea of being the exterminator.

My son does not usually read my blog, at least I don't think he does. He gets enough of my incessant babbling around the house and whenever he travels with me in the car (a captive audience). Tonight though, just an hour or so ago, I recommended he go read my blog post, from this past Sunday, the one about the 'upcoming end of the world on this coming Saturday'. He went up to his room to read it on his laptop. A few minutes later, he came down and said it was pretty good and he thought it was funny. I asked if besides the funny he saw the serious side of it, the idea about being prepared as being a good thing. He got it, whether for zombies, Judgement day, the end of the world, a natural disaster, a man made disaster or whatever. By the way, he enlightened me (both mentally and spiritually) that the end of the world is not supposed to happen until this October and that this Saturday will only be Judgement Day and the beginning of the end. How little he realized just how wonderfully relieved I was to hear the good news! After that, he just left to go out with his pals.

Now mind you, I am not the only one blogging about Doomsday, or whatever you want to call it. Others are doing it too. Even the government of the United States of America has reportedly done so. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, here in
this article, the CDC wants to know if you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse and then gives you advice on how to prepare for it. Yes they actually tell you how to prepare for zombies. What is up with that? Do you think they believe something cataclysmically evil is about to take place - what with all the predictions of doom, gloom and Judgement Day being upon us and with all the other disasters that have been seen worldwide within the last several months or so. It sure seems like mother nature has been slamming us pretty hard round the world - doesn't it. Or maybe it is truly the wrath of God! It just gets me to wondering why the government is getting in on all of it right now.

My guess is they do not believe one iota of it but want you and I to be prepared for the unexpected in terms of natural disasters or man made ones or maybe even for things like terrorism. (I know of only one thing I would rather shoot more than zombies and that is terrorists - where and when legally justified of course.) So, I am guessing they are just getting in on all the hype with the hope that the timing will actually get more folks to pay attention to what they have to say about emergency preparedness. You know, they tell you to have water, food, first aid kits, blankets, flashlights and batteries and all that stuff. They are actually going about it in a pretty sensible way too. Then again, have you ever known the federal government to be that efficient or reasonable as to do something just because it makes sense! Maybe they know something they are not telling us about all this end of the world stuff!!! Nah, couldn't be anything to it - could it? Just in case there is though, there is one other preparedness detail the CDC blog does not mention but that I try never to fail to mention - guns & ammo. As for ammo and guns - we are set for years.

What they know or don't know, at the CDC, about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) does not effect me. I am, and have been, ready for a disaster should it strike, or am at least somewhat ready. My level of preparedness would probably get me and my family through a week or two before we would be forced to go out to resupply with essentials such as taco chips, salsa, popcorn, dog food, Spam (the kind you eat not the online variety and note how it came right after dog food), wine & whiskey, iced tea and whatever. Anyway, I am going to Costco on Saturday morning to stock up on more supplies. So, if Judgement Day goes off as planned, at 6PM (a friend at work had a good question, is that EDST or Greenwich mean time), we should be good maybe for up to 3 to 4 weeks. If it does not happen, well - we will be ready for it the following weekend, or for the earthquake, flood, hurricane, nuclear power plant leak, terrorist acts, the sky falling or for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse followed by all the demons of hell (well maybe not quite all of them). If none of it happens in our lifetimes - so what! We can still eat the chips, salsa and Spam (my wife hates it, I am not sure of how my daughter feels about it, but the son and I love it). And as for all the ammo, we can have a blast with it at the range.

Before I close, I gotta tell you, this end of the world stuff is absolutely amazing. My blog had been averaging around 115 unique visits a day for a couple of weeks about 4 weeks ago. I was happy with that because it was up from the meager 80 to 85 hits I was getting on average prior to that. Then it went back down to the 80s again last week. Well, on Sunday, when I first wrote about all this gloom and doom (and mind you most people do not read blogs on the weekend so some spilled over to Monday), I got 159 visits on Sunday, 202 on Monday, back down to about 80 on Tuesday. Then when I made very brief mention again, early Wednesday morning, about all this 'end of ends' stuff, the visits to my blog skyrocketed to 766 on Wednesday. Wow, people love this stuff and I am guessing that is what the CDC was betting on when they timed their zombie apocalypse preparedness blog just right, in there with all this end of the world stuff. When I wrote my post on Sunday, I was not betting on any such thing, I was just blogging as usual. I most humbly have been amazed at the number of hits my blog has been getting, mostly because of that one piece I wrote on Sunday:

Is The World Going To End Next Saturday

While I sure hope it does not end, that is that the world does not end next Saturday, I kind of figure the skyrocketing interest in my blog will soon crash to earth. Yet, I hope I can find some other ways to peak your interest in my rather mundane blog, to keep up your future visits to it, not as high as yesterday's number of visits but a bit higher than they had been before all this hoopla began. In that light, I may just have to write up all types of future TEOTWAWKI predictions or maybe I can just write about sex. I guess though I should probably stick to things I know about; and so, sadly, I will keep writing about guns, ammo, politics, herps, history, current events and preparedness for doom and gloom. Wish I could have told you it would have been about sex!

All the best,
Glenn B
PS: If the zombies, as in the walking dead, do not show up this Saturday and we all make it through to Sunday unscathed, I may celebrate with some Zombies (not the walking dead kind but the kind you drink that turn you into the walking dead). I think I have most, if not all, of the fixings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Most Sensible Commentary To Date On The Death Of Osama bin Laden & Its Aftermath

Once again, Pat Condell makes so much sense it makes me wish he was the grand advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Universe, or at least an Irish Whiskey drinking buddy of mine with whom I could chew the fat (pork fat at that).



All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday Already? Only A Few Days Until Judgement Day, Or Is It Doomsday, Saturday - May 21, 2011

Only 89 hours and about 50 minutes until the end of the world at 6PM this Saturday, May 21st. Are you ready? Me neither but I do have a special bottle of Irish on hand if needed to enjoy my last drink or better yet to celebrate waking up alive and well on Sunday morning. Hope to be giving you an update on Sunday.

All the best,
GB

The Newbius Papers - New Blog Added To Blog Roll

Just added a new blog to the list, The Newbius Papers: http://newbius.blogspot.com/. Seems to be another worthy shootist blog. Found the link via Breda's blog.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ballseye's Gun Shots 136: Guns - Don't Take Em Apart Unless You Know How To Put Em Back Together Again

The title of this post pretty much says it all unless you add this to it:

"...or you want to spend a lot of time, effort, maybe even some money, and a hit to personal pride to get it right again."

No, I have not taken apart one of my guns without knowing how to reassemble it, not lately anyhow. Someone else left a comment in one of my posts about a rifle he bought and commented he wishes he knew how to put the trigger mechanism back together. Now, I am not saying he did anything wrong; he may not have been the one to take it apart, maybe he bought it that way or whatever. His comment though made me remember a time or three that I took a gun apart and had no clue of how to put it back together again and it pretty much sat there, way too long, looking a lot like Humpty-Dumpty after he had fallen off of the wall.

While there are probably people or resources out there to easily help with getting a gun put back together again, there are also a few obstacles to overcome before it gets to the reassembly point. Let's face it - when you are confident, or stupid, enough to disassemble a gun without first having handy the disassembly and reassembly instructions and you then find yourself unable to reassemble it - you have goofed big time. Now you have to decide what to do next. in current times we can often be thankful, in such situations, for the Internet. The net is often a ready source of free information and a quick or sometimes long and tedious search can help you find the solution you are seeking. The thing about the Internet though is that it also lends itself to capitalism - which in and of itself is a good thing. That is except maybe when you find out that some of the info you thought would be free is only available at a premium price. Such can be the case with firearms manuals or field strip, detail strip, and reassembly instructions.

In the case you have not found it readily available for free, you have some options. You can pay the price or you can continue looking or you can give up for now and wait until what you are looking for miraculously falls in your lap. If you decide that you want the gun to get back together but you do not want to pay the extra cost to buy the instructions, or simply cannot even find them for sale, then you have the option of asking someone for help. The thing about asking for help, in a case like this, usually means you have to swallow your pride and admit - "Whoops, I messed up and have no clue how to do it". For some that is not hard to do. For others - well you know there have been at least a couple or few times in your life when you must have been embarrassed to admit to someone that you screwed up. It is not the end of the world though it is not the easiest thing to do either. If you want to get it back together though, maybe you had best ask for help.

The trick with asking someone else for help is that you have to try to decide, without knowing how to fix it yourself, if the guy now giving you the instructions actually knows what he is talking about or not. If you do it over the Internet, there is always the chance you have some 10 year old kid telling you what to do and he has never seen the inside of a BB gun let alone the firearms you need o reassemble. Heck, why am I picking on 10 year olds, it could be a 20, 30, 40, 50 60, 70 or whatever year old who does not have a clue yet is freely sharing his lack of knowledge with you while at the same time trying to convince you he is a gun repair guru. Then again, even if you go to a gun store or a gunsmith to seek help (where it likely would cost a lot more than would an instruction manual on reassembly), you have no guarantee they know what they are talking about either.

So, we are back to my original advice. Do not take it apart, do not even have a gunsmith take it apart, unless you (or the gunsmith) have detailed instructions on how to disassemble and then reassemble your gun. Of course, some of you (and I rarely fit into this category but have been guilty of it a few times) cannot wait to get instructions before you take a new or otherwise unfamiliar gun apart for cleaning, tweaking or repair and you just do it. For you guys, I have a recommendation, make a video of each step you take to disassemble the firearm. If you don't make a video, at least keep good notes (written or mental) of each step you took to get it apart. Why do that? Many modern, mass produced firearms, if not most of them, can be reassembled in reverse order of how you disassemble them. That is, at least if you disassemble them in proper order.

While you may think you don't need to pay attention to this advice, either because you consider yourself a firearms expert, a knowledgeable gunsmith, an adept armorer, a know it all, a Jack of all trades, or just the type of guy who will never have to take apart a firearm that you own because you will have someone else do it - the truth is: If you own guns long enough you will someday find the need to take one apart and will simply be much better off if you know how to do it right and then properly get it back together again. If the hunting opportunity of a lifetime comes up, if a day at the range with one of your kids is at hand, if a friend wants to check out you awesome new gun, if the SHTF and you need to defend your family or self, you sure don't need your gun laying there in pieces looking like Humpty-Dumpty and you looking and feeling embarrassed. Even though it is good advice and I am the one giving it, I am pretty sure that I will again, someday when I am over anxious, wind up with egg on my face and broken eggshells on my workbench. For the meantime though, I plan to take my own advice.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, May 16, 2011

Leapin' Leachies, Reptile Tanks & A Couple Of Corn Snakes Made For An Interesting Afternoon

There I was, yesterday, at the monthly meeting of the Long Island Herpetological Society. I was ready for what I figured would be a ho-hum presentation at best, at just another monthly meeting. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the monthly meetings, I just figured this would be a typical one.

I mean, the meeting began as usual, a bunch of us showing up at the classroom at SUNY Farmingdale and waiting for everyone else. We greeted one another, and then chatted about this reptile and that amphibian, or other topics society related or not. More folks came. Some brought animals for sale, other brought tanks and accessories they were trying to offload at decent prices. I made the rounds, said my hellos, jawboned for a bit, then looked at what was on hand for sale. A couple of nice commercially made reptile tanks with lights at $30 apiece, some Kingsnakes, some Corn Snakes, a Rainbow Python, another reptile tank, a bigger one. Nothing was of particular interest to me and I passed on all of them even though the pair of smaller reptile tanks had caught my eye. Still though, I passed. After all - I have enough tanks and enough critters.

Moments before the meeting got underway officially, Dave, the guy selling the Kingsnakes and the pair of tanks (with lights), asked if anyone had a pen. I dug one out of my jacket pocket and he took it, bent over, started writing on his for sale sign, and changed the price of the two tanks he was selling to $20 apiece. When I saw that, resistance was futile. I immediately said I would take both and pay him at the end of the show. Then I thought better and pulled out the cash and almost had to force him to take it. It seems someone else was thinking of taking one of them. I said okay, I will just take one. The other guy, Wayne, was nice enough to let me take them both, in fact he insisted. That was nice.

Now that I had the tanks - I was satisfied. Or was I? Truth be told, the two corn snakes for sale had also caught my eye more so than I at first had allowed myself to believe. One was an Okeetee Corn Snake. The Okeetee Corn Snake is simply a color variant from a particular wild population of corn snakes. The name is often misspelled as Oaketee; the proper spelling is Okeetee, after the Okeetee Club in Jasper County, SC where these snakes were first described by Carl Kauffeld in his book Snakes: The Keeper & The Kept. The other was a reverse Okeetee Corn Snake (the albino variant of the Okeetee morph). My buddy Mark wanted a hundred bucks for the pair (a breeding pair as was obvious by what they were doing in the tank in which he had them). That was a good deal but the heavens knew, I did not need any snakes. I got into newts, salamanders, tortoises and turtles to try to get away from snakes and lizards but I do miss them now and then. Corn Snakes were one of my early interests in herps and are one of the most beautiful among all the snakes that I have kept or seen. Still though, I kept my money and passed on them even though a corn snake expert, Rich H., told me that they were a great deal.

The meeting was called to order soon after my purchase. We all took seats and sat back for what turned out to be the best presentation I had been to so far this meeting year, which began in September and ends next month (we skip July and August for meetings). Steve Cemelli of Leapin’ Leachies, http://leapinleachies.com/index.htm
, gave a the talk. It was all about Rhacodactylus leachianus geckos, which are the largest geckos in the world. They come only from New Caledonia and its surrounding outer islands. It was truly an interesting talk and lots of questions were asked and answered too.

Rhacodactylus, in essence, means big foot, and these beauties do have pretty large feet that help them climb the trees in their forest abodes. On display, Steve had representatives of each of the different varieties of these fascinating lizards. One thing we learned about them was the difference between these geckos when from different locations. Each area of New Caledonia’s big island and each of the small outlying islands seem to have distinct variations among the same species. The differences are so notable that I was surprised to discover they are still classified as a single species. Interesting creatures that eat anything from insects, to other lizards, to birds to one sub-species that eats crabs. Steve had lots of adults in the display and each was brought around the room by LIHS member John H. for all to see. There were even a few juveniles for sale but while I would love to get a few of these and breed them, there is not a chance of it in my near future. They go anywhere from about $400 each up to about $750 each. The ones at the meeting were no exceptions. Possibly a good project for my upcoming retirement but I will have to save my change for quite the while..

Once the talk was over, I headed over to look at those corn snakes again. They sure were a tempting offer and sooner than later I asked Mark if he would take $80 for the pair. He agreed and I am now the new owner of two corn snakes. Surprisingly enough my wife did not seem to mind at all, when over dinner, I told her about them having come home with me.

Funny thing about them, they were mating while Mark brought them to the meeting, again while at the meeting and yet again when I left the meeting with them both in the same tank (one of the tanks I just bought). After the show, I went to visit my mom for awhile and when I left her place, the corn snakes were at it again in the back seat of the car (inside the tank - of course). When I got home, I left them in the car for later retrieval. Then, at about 10:30 PM, my son reminded me they were in the car. He had gone out somewhere, in the car, and I guess he was sort of surprised to find them there (not too surprised as well as he knows his old man). Well, when I went out to get them, yep - they were at it again. If the female is only 6 years old as I was told, then she is still young enough to lay eggs, and if both she and the male are fertile, then I got a good deal indeed. Corn Snakes can lay up to 25 eggs, or more, in a single clutch. The average is lower at about 12 to 15. Even if she lays only that many and they all hatch, I can make my money back if I sell the babies from a single clutch. She can have as many as two clutches a year.

Nope, not just another ho-hum presentation and not just another monthly meeting, at least not for me.

All the best,
Glenn B


PS: Pics of the snakes will be published, in the not too distant future, in a new post, probably this coming weekend.