Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cancer Sucks

I recently lost my favorite aunt to cancer. She lived through 11 years of it, and I guess really suffered the past couple to few years but she was a bright burning flame throughout. She did not go quietly into that dark night - not at all. She was a fighter.

My brother-in-law also recently lost his wife/sweetheart to cancer. She suffered too long even though she did not have it anywhere nearly as long as did my aunt. Different types of cancer do you differently but all types suck.

I lost my father to cancer about a year and a half ago; well actually I lost him when I was 8 or 9 - he was a useless sack of shit and a father of little if any worth and left us back then. Still, he suffered from it badly - he had prostate cancer that spread and did him in. Looked more like a sorry assed zombie than a man when I saw him at the hospice, it sucked the life right out of him. At least he told me he was sorry.

I also lost a friend last year - a guy at work. More of a friend to me than either of us had imagined. I miss him dearly even though we knew each other from work and that was it but we were buddies nonetheless. Well really, he died of heart failure in his sleep. It seemed he had the cancer beat but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease and my guess is he died of heart failure not only due to his heart condition and diabetes but because the cancer surgery, radiation and chemo wore him down. He was pretty snarky when it came to bullshit from bosses, and he was that way right up till the last time I saw him. Bosses feared him - the rest of us liked him a lot. My guess is that even some of the bosses really liked him a lot they just couldn't figure him - he kept them guessing and he shoved their own shit in their faces when and if they were assholes, of course, some bosses loathed him just as they hated the truth that they were incompetent. Yep, the incompetent bosses could not stand him. Mark my word on that! He was a good man and a good friend.

Me, I miss them all. Cancer sucks. It not only fucks up those who have it but also they who know those who have it. Thank goodness for doctors, nurses, medical technicians, pharmacists, scientists, researchers, fund raisers, those who donate and all the like who sometimes help to cure it.

Yep, cancer sucks. Then again, life goes on, at least until you die - its just a matter of how and when - mostly when. Of course, life goes on for others folks even after you die, even when cancer has sucked much of the life out of them either because they had it and beat it or because someone they loved had it and lost to it. Cancer does have an antithesis though, it is called life! Life goes on, living life is cancer's cancer! And you know what, if you have lived a good life it probably does not mater if the cancer wins. After all - as I said above - we all die; it is just a mater of how and when but mosly a matter of when.

All the best,
Glenn B

A Single Update To The Blog Roll - The Feral Irishman

It has been awhile since I have found a blog I have liked enough to add it to my blog role. Hell, it must have been a fw months now but I found one thanks to Wirecutter at Knuckledraggin my life away who had a link to The Feral Irishman. The new link is over on the right under: Other Bloggers Of Note GRUMPS, GEEKS, GUN GUYS/GALS & GENIUSES - All Worth A Read and Who Gave Me A Courtesy Link - Thanks.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, August 29, 2011

FORBIDDEN PLANET - Sci-Fi Classic On TMC

Whoopee a good movie to watch just about to start - Forbidden Planet. I thought I was going to be bored to tears tonight with the usual crap on the tube but I do like this movie. Yep, it is dated. By today's standards it would be rated weak to terrible for special effects and props, but it had darned good acting for a corny sci-fi flick. Starring Walter Pigeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen (as you may not be able to imagine him if you are used to seeing him in comedies such as Dracula - Dead and Loving It, The Naked Gun or Airplane) it is well worth the watch if you like older sci-fi flicks.

Just started - so - later 4 U.

All the best,
GB

Goodnight Irene

Sunday night turned out to be a goodnight, in fact a beautiful night with only brilliant stars and not a single cloud filling our local skies. So, I guess that Hurricane Irene lived up to the saying. There was not too much damage at my house. We had a leak, apparently through a wall or maybe down the wall from the eaves of the roof. I think it came it through two holes drilled in our wall for external electrical outlets, a box for our AC unit and a box for power outlets for outside. Something tells me the installer never put any silicone sealant around the wiring in the holes he drilled through the wall. I know he did not seal around the edge of the boxes. I will have to do that and see if we still get water in the next big storm. If so, it will be time to look up at the roof eaves. We got maybe half and inch of water at one end of the back room in the basement, concrete floor so no real problem. Most of the water had either soaked into the concrete or evaporated by the wee hours of this morning.

Outside, we had a few branches from each of our trees down. Nothing big. A tree around the block had a huge limb break off and crash onto a house, looked to be mostly damage to siding and to the gutters and such. Another tree about two blocks away came down. It took the electrical power lines with it. Amazingly they got rid of the tree earlier today and we already have power restored tonight. It was nice to see lights on the houses when I parked my car tonight. Nicer yet was that I knew the fish tank filters and air pumps were back on and I no longer had to rely on battery operated pumps to aerate the water. I think all the fish and salamanders made it but have to check closer as I jut gave a quick glance when I was setting up the dehumidifier in the back room. Since the first floor sub-floor and our beams got wet from the leak in the wall (the water was coming in at least 8 feet above the basement floor) I want them to dry out as soon as possible to avoid rot - thus the humidifier was set on high.

I am convinced I will be getting a portable generator. My neighbor has a 4,000 watt gasoline powered unit. He easily had his refrigerator, computer, televisions and some other things up and running. I am not that concerned about another storm like this but more about ice bringing down the lines in winter. We would be without heat because my oil furnace fires up electrically. Even if not hooked up to the circuit breaker box, I could at least set up some portable electric heaters in the house if I had a generator and keep pipes from freezing. Other appliances worked fine. Our water heater worked fine and I thought the thermostat was electrical - I guess not. Hot water for a shower was very nice. Of course, the gas range worked too. Well, not the electronic ignition but that is why someone invented matches. The BBQ grill worked fine too, and I grilled up some steaks last night. At least they were not ruined by lack of refrigeration. It would also be nice to have a fridge for warm weather power failures like this one. I am guessing we lost some food. Most seems okay but some salami I had in the fridge smelled rancid. I don't know about stuff in the freezer. I have to check to see if the electric company reimburses folks for such losses. I think they do but only if the power is out longer than 48 hours.

The neighborhood was mostly in pretty decent condition from what I saw of it last night and earlier today. I heard other trees came down and power was out here and there. Nassau County, NY had about 450,000 customers without power after the storm. It could have been worse though had Irene turned back into a Category 2 hurricane instead of fizzling into a tropical storm. No complaints from anyone I know about that though. No injuries in the neighborhood of which I am aware, no major damage to homes or property - so we were lucky.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dr. Strangelove, A Plan And A Little Bit Of Storm Preparation...

...I hope it all goes a long way to keep damage to a minimum. I just spent the last couple of hours moving things out of our yard and off of our patios into the shed and garage. Anything that I figured was light enough to fly away and then some was stowed away securely. I was thinking of boarding up the windows but plywood was short at Home Depot yesterday. So while the windows are not covered over, at least I have gotten rid of any potential missiles that were on my property. I cannot say the same for my neighbors. One has a patio table and chair set out (all wood but probably light enough to take off if the winds hit 100mph) and other have left small flower pots and yard ornaments outside. I have a few things still out but I will take them in before too long, raining ow heavily and I am hoping for a break in the rain before doing that.

As far as supplies go, we have at least enough food to last a couple of weeks - all not requiring refrigeration if the power goes out.  I think we have enough dog food too, but if not then they can eat spam! I have flashlights with what I hope are fresh batteries. I say I hope because I am short of D cell batteries and there were none on the shelves yesterday. I also have smaller lights that require triple A and double A and have plenty of batteries for them. Truth be told, if the electrical power fails, I made need all my D cells to run my two battery operated air pumps to aerate my fish tanks. I also have a fair supply of candles if we need them. One thing we do not have right now is a lot of spare water. I kind of doubt that water service will be cut but I am going out anyway, later this afternoon, to see if I can get a couple cases of water. I had a couple of cases set aside, but as to who drank them, only the Shadow knows. It is always a good idea to go over a checklist of survival items before a storm or other SHTF situation just to make sure you are prepared for just about anything.



We have most of what we need to have a pretty good weekend in Las Vegas or just sheltered in our home though the weekend in  Vegas with the supplies mentioned in the video sounds like more fun!

I guess my biggest storm damage concern, besides maybe the roof blowing of of our house or glass flying in from windows after being slammed into by a neighbors patio table or flower pot, has to be that I am worried the basement will flood. We do not have flood insurance, nor a pump to get out the water. Lots of stuff in the basement. They have said we can expect anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain. Six inches we may be able to weather okay but more than that and I am pretty sure we will get flooded what with the ground already being somewhat saturated from recent rains. If it starts to get wet downstairs, I will be very busy moving things to higher and drier parts of the house.

Luckily someone, probably my wife, found the only one of our four of our larger tortoises that was still outside in the yard yesterday (the two babies are always in a tank). I had found the other three and got them inside on Thursday night. I figure they probably would have survived the winds, had they been left outside, by burrowing into the ground. The thing is I was none to sure they would survive the storm if my yard flooded. So for now, they are all safe and sound in their tank in the basement.

Thankfully I have heard the hurricane has weakened from a category 2 to a category 1. Still though, sustained winds of 85mph, that it has been packing are just about enough to assure I will be hunkered down with my family, the dogs, the tortoises and all the other critters inside our house tomorrow. Hunkering down is one way to get through the worst of situations so as to see the sun come up another day, that is so long as you have a plan. We, or at least I, do have a plan so, I am pretty sure we will come out of it okay for the most part and that we'll meet again some sunny day!



All the best,
Glenn B



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Shaky Ground Or Not

I was sitting at my desk when suddenly I felt and saw it move, then it moved again along with the floor, the ceiling, the walls, the overhead lights and the rest of my office. Everything was swaying back and forth. I heard a female coworker almost shriek out - "What is happening?". I could not see her because the office is divided by cubicles but I heard the hint of panic in her voice. I calmly said "EARTHQUAKE". I did not yell but said it loudly and firmly hoping all would know to take some self protective action. I sat for a moment more then had thought, 'I hope it was not a bomb because if it was a bomb it had been a big one', I thought that because another big wave of swaying movement just rippled on through the steel and concrete of our fairly old and huge building (it takes up an entire city block). It used to be a repair station for trains and was built to literally drive the trains right into the building so it had been built strong and here it was swaying like a leaf in a breeze. I started to get under my desk, as someone else called out not to worry because it was a planned explosion created by a film crew making a movie in the area. No way! I spoke up again and said "earthquake get under your desks"  but I don't know if anyone paid attention. Four years in southern California, living pretty much right over the San Andreas fault, had me knowing this was no movie explosion. Anyway, as someone else pointed out, there had been no sound, just the swaying wave like motion. It lased all of 15 to 20 seconds - maybe 30 but I think that last number a stretch. My guess was about a 5.0 to 5.5. It was over as suddenly as it had started. Everyone and everything was okay.

I spoke to a few folks about it for a few minutes then headed out of the office to get some field work done. I met some interpreters, from my office, in the hall. They were evacuating though no one had made an announcement to evacuate. When I got downstairs, I saw that virtually everyone in our building, thousands of people, had evacuated and crammed the streets. That was virtually everyone except for those on my office's floor. On every other floor there were loud speaker announcements that it had been an earthquake and those folks apparently had been ordered to evacuate. When I got outside, a Con Edison repair truck, parked at a manhole in which the guys had been repairing something or other, had its radio on blaring out the news of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia. Wow, and it felt that strong here. Later I learned, that on the east coast, quakes feel stronger over larger areas than they do out west because the bedrock is not fractured by faults as it is in the west thus allowing the energy to travel further with continued high force. It was a ride for a few moments. I hopped in my work car and then took another ride to go do my fieldwork. On the way across Manhattan, I saw the streets were lined with folks who had evacuated their buildings. Some were obviously very scared. Stopped at a light, I saw one woman who had fear written all over her face. I caught her eye and smiled. She smiled back a nervous smile. About then, someone near her told those all around that it had been an earthquake - it had taken long for them to get the word. Until then, I think they must have thought it had been some type of attack because at the word it had been an earthquake - people started to cheer. You could easily have seen - they were all greatly relieved.

I continued on my drive with the radio tuned to an all news station. Seems even the mayor had vacated City Hall, two of the three local big airports had shut down, the FBI offices and federal building evacuated, the Holland Tunnel had been closed, yada yada yada. I headed for the Queens Midtown tunnel and got out of "the city". Traffic was a bit heavier than usual, I guess some others had decided that it was a good day for fieldwork or maybe just to play hooky for the remainder of the work day. I knew one thing, if there were going to be aftershocks, I would rather be outside of Manhattan but of course that was not why I was leaving, that was just a side thought, after all - I had fieldwork to get done.

On a side note, my son got to me, with a text message, before I even had gotten in my car. I had tried calling my family members but Sprint service for the phone seemed to be out, go figure how text messages still went through but they did go through. He asked me a one word question: "Earthquake?" and I replied in the affirmative. He then replied back that he guessed he could put away his AK47, he had thought we had been bombed; I replied: "That's my boy" and had a good laugh over his text message. Later on, when I got home, I learned he had been snoozing and was awakened by his bed shaking badly. He said the whole house was moving and that our dogs had gone berserk apparently along with all the dogs in the neighborhood. We live in a brick house, I have to check the walls tomorrow. Probably fine but I think I should give them the once over for cracks in the mortar. I also contacted my daughter. She was okay. Somewhere along the way to my fieldwork, I was able to get my wife on the phone, I figure after at least 45 minutes to an hour, and 15 phone call attempts, to get her. She was okay, she had not even felt it. That was the story up here, many people were shaken, rattled and rolled - others did not even have a clue that the rest of us had been on shaky ground.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, August 22, 2011

Robyn Gardner - I Am Almost Willing To Bet She is Alive...

...and that claims of her death, or at least of being lost in the ocean while diving, were fabricated as an insurance scam. Just a guess, on my part, but maybe not any more far fetched than claims she was murdered. I mean, if she was truly seen leaving the beach with the so called suspect then, maybe she is in hiding and alive and well, just hoping to collect on the insurance policy that reportedly was taken out on her life by Gary Giordano.

See:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44227326/ns/world_news-americas/?GT1=43001

Stranger things have happened.

All the best,
GB

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ballseye's SIG 229 DAK Rust Alert

I currently carry a SIG SAUER 229 (Double Action Kellerman) for my primary duty handgun. The following is my opinion about what I believe are some of its shortcomings. I think I have mentioned before I am not a big fan of it. The trigger pull and everything to do with the trigger operation is, in my opinion horrendous, and does much to keep this from being an otherwise pretty good firearm. Note, I did not just write "... an otherwise excellent handgun". There are reasons for this and I will go over a few of them below with particular attention paid to two of them.

Besides not liking the trigger pull - way too heavy, way too long, way too mushy, a pain in the ass to reset properly for combat (yes I know how to reset at the first click so it travels less on the next squeeze but try to do it reliably under a lot of stress) - I also do not like the fact that this pistol reportedly often fails to function properly if not wet (as in fairly heavily oiled or if talking pastrami then meaning fatty), that after a cleaning and lubrication the magazine release button can become frozen in place by rust in less than a week of in the holster wear in normal summer weather, and that the grip screws need repeated attention (I would recommend after every shooting session of a couple hundred rounds or after a few months of wear in a holster or sooner) to make sure they have not come loose. If not for those few shortcomings, I might like it a damned lot more than I do right now and I would have said "...otherwise excellent handgun".

I suppose that one of my main concerns with this pistol is that it seems built to very tight specifications and because of that they should have used a metal finish (or a metal) that would not allow rust to form as quickly as it seemingly  can on the magazine release button. I own a few pistols and I have carried several others. I have never owned or carried a pistol (or rifle or shogun) that had any parts that rusted as quickly, and then resulted in functioning problems, as has the magazine release button on my issued SIG 229 DAK. This darned magazine release button rusted enough now, on three very separate occasions, to have needed a much larger amount of force to operate it than is normal - and I keep it clean and lubricated. On the most recent occurrence of this, I picked up the pistol, applied pressure to the mag release button and nothing happened. I pushed harder and still nothing happened. I let it go and there was no spring-back so I knew the button did not depress and the mag was just stuck a bit. I examined it a bit and realized it was frozen in place by what appeared to be a tiny amount of rust around the perimeter of the button where it met the frame - and I do mean a tiny amount. I tried operating the button with more force, first with one thumb and then with both. I could not budge it. I then put a piece of flat metal between my thumbs and the button and pushed with the gun lying on its side on a table. It finally popped free. I guess this was the worst it has ever frozen up. What puzzled me then and concerns me greatly still is that I had just cleaned and oiled the pistol only about 4 days prior (maybe 5 days but not more than that) and had not been caught out in the rain nor had it been exceptionally humid. Yes it is summer and it has been a hot one but I have been indoors mostly, in air conditioned rooms, so I have not even perspired profusely while wearing the pistol. Finally - no I did not take it on my salt water fishing trip last weekend (imagine, for a change I was gunless) and anyway, it happened prior to that.

Whatever the cause, the amount of rust was truly minimal and should have been inconsequential or so I would have thought. I am guessing the reason for the button freezing up like that is not just due to the tiny ring of rust that was on it but is also due to the fact that diameter of the button in comparison to the diameter of the hole in the slide into which it fits probably causes a very tight fit. Sorry SIG SAUER but if that is the case, you screwed up on this one in my opinion. There is no way that the mag release button should seize up like that with as little rust as was on mine and remember there is no rust forming on the alloy frame, it was just on the mag button from what I could see. As a matter of fact, there is probably no way, short of exposure to salt water, or to salt cedars and sweat (at the same time), that the metal should rust as quickly after a cleaning and lubrication as did the mag button on my issued pistol. By the way, I used BreakFree CLP which works wonderfully as a rust preventative as far as I am concerned. At least it does so on my other pistols, and I allowed a small drop of it to seep down around the mag release on this one because I was already aware of the potential for a problem. Yet, it wound up that it rusted up and froze up. Just imagine that happening and you wind up in a gun fight and need to reload. Luckily for me it happened at home. And to think, when these were first issued, we were warned to be very careful of our grip because many people hit the mag release while shooting and the mags would drop out often still with many rounds in them. How ironic is the current problem when thinking of that other one.

Sig Sauer, if you own one, you can keep yours; if this one was mine, I would sell it post haste.

All the best,
GB

Stubbed My Toe...

...last night, and held in a howl of pain. I don't know why but whenever I stub a toe, I get an almost indescribable amount of terrible pain that lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour or so. Last night was no exception and as usual I thought it was just my low threshold for toe pain that had me almost howling (although I held it in trying to be a balls up sort of a guy for a change). Oh man it hurt bad. About an hour or so later, it caught on a blanket on the sofa just a bit. I howled then and decided maybe it was not just a stubbed toe. Sure enough, there was a line of black and blue running from near the toe tip back onto the foot. At that point, I guessed maybe I had broken it when I stubbed it and being that I heard a snap/crack when I stubbed it I should have figured that right away. Funny thing is, I get the same amount of searing incredible pain if I only stub it or if I break it, just that the pain lasts much longer whenever I have actually broken a toe. Since it still hurts this evening, almost 20 hours after I first stubbed it and since it is bruised and swollen I am pretty sure it is busted. Not much to do though except have a beer and bear it. Certainly not the worst I have ever had happen to me.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Disappearing Blog Alert

It seems that at least 3 maybe 4 of my recent blog posts have gone the way of the dinosaurs. No, the dinosaurs did not sprout feathers and fly away as birds - they disappeared because they went extinct. I do not think my blog has gone extinct but for sure some of the posts seem to have disappeared.

Good reason to download and save the blog now and then. I am overdue for that, will get it done tonight. Have to go visit my mom, so no time for it now.

All the best,
GB

Friday, August 19, 2011

Update On Our Toyota Corolla

As I posted on August 1st, our Toyota Corolla got pounded by hail, including one piece that left a baseball sized dent, and others that took out both windshields, popped the glass out of the mirror shell, and left dents all over the car. We got the glass fixed right away, I don't know what that cost but figure it was in the hundreds of dollars. Yesterday we got the estimate of damage for all the dents. It maybe works out to a mere bag of shells for some but to me it was a pretty big bag of shells at: $ 5760.56 (not including the glass). Now I am debating if I should just take the cash, not get it fixed, and put the cash toward a new car.  Heck, the Corolla was only about 12.5 K when I bought it new! Tough decision.

By the way, if I get it fixed, it has been estimated it will take 14 days to repair it all!

All the best,
GB

Monday, August 15, 2011

Well...

"...I've had all that I wanted of a lot of things I've had and a lot more than I needed of some things that turned out bad."

Thank you Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash for that line, it says a lot about a life and the man who lived it and how he looked at life. I've kind of enjoyed a life like that myself; perhaps I have been blessed.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Great Fishing Trip - And Not Just Another Fish Tale...

Too fat, too dumb, but quite happy
to be out fishing with my son Brendan.
...because this one comes with pictures. Today, Brendan and I went fishing on the Super Hawk out of Point Lookout. I tried to wake him up at 5AM but as usual, on a Friday night, he was out late last night or should I say until early this AM. He was up and at em though by about 10AM so, I asked if he wanted to go out on a half day boat (actually a 4 to 5 hour trip). He said sure and I had him make the sandwiches while I did some other things - like have breakfast and some coffee. Sooner than later, we were off to Point Lookout and we had the poles, reels, tackle box, sun block, caps, bait (they give out bait on the boat but I usually take a long a box of frozen squid too) and everything we needed for a fun day.

Brendan looking cool and ready to fish.
In past years, we try to get out to fish a few times during the spring, summer and early fall but last year we never got out on a boat, and today's trip was the first fishing trip for us at all this year. I don't know if it was because it was our first fishing trip together in too long awhile, or if it was because it was a really nice day with calm seas, or if it was that each of us had a great fishing partner in the other, or that we met some nice folks on the boat, or that we actually caught a good number of fish but we had one heck of a great father and son day. I really am lucky to have a son who still likes to hang out with me at the age of 21. We shoot together, hunt together, fish together and get some other stuff dome together in there too. Now if only I could get my wife and daughter to come on one of our fishing trips with us, I would be in heaven.
When Brendan and I go to the range, I am always proud to see how well he shoots since I taught him to shoot. When we go fishing or hunting it is the same feeling for me because I taught him how to hunt and fish. With shooting, well - he cannot out shoot me yet even though he is a darned good shot. When it comes to fishing though, I guess I have to take second place. While I caught the first fish today, he caught a lot more of them than did I and bigger ones too. He guessed he caught about 20 to 25 of them, I think he caught closer to 25 or 30 though neither of us was keeping an accurate count. As for me, I caught about 12 or maybe 15 at most. We were fishing for sea bass and porgies (aka: Scup) and they were most of what we caught. They were mixed in with a skate, some bergalls, and a fluke. Others, on the boat, brought in an American eel and a couple of blackfish along with the same types of fish we caught. As for our fish, Brendan caught the fluke (only a couple of inches short of the 20.5" size requirement) and I caught the skate; both were throw backs. We both caught sea bass and porgies too, in fact they were most of what we pulled up over the rail. Most of the bass and scup (aka: porgies) we caught were not keepers. We were lucky enough though to have caught 5 or 6 keeper sea bass and 3 or 4 keeper porgies. While not a lot and not very big, they will add to tomorrows dinner nicely.

Besides fishing we had some fun looking at other boats, trying to figure out where we were, trying to guess what ships were hauling, and feeding the seagulls. Watching the gulls twist and turn in flight then dive into the water while trying to grab a tasty morsel (piece of clam or squid), that we threw to them, out of the water was neat. Neater than that was watching them catch some of those tidbits in midair. Yep, it was a good day.

Brendan showing off a nice sized porgy.
In all, when it came to fish we caught, we wound up with probably only 3 or 4 pounds of fish fillets. The cost of our trip was $40 each for the party boat fee, $6 for two pool entries, about $7 for the frozen squid, about $5 for gas, about $12 for our sandwich fixins and snacks, about $6 for the drinks in our cooler, and a $10 tip for the mates. All in all, a total of $126 and that divided by 4 pounds (at best) of fish. That works out to about $31.50 per pound. Wow - fish are sure getting expensive, but as they would say in those credit card commercials - so much for this, so much for that - SPENDING A DAY FISHING WITH YOUR SON - AND KNOWING HE HAD A GREAT TIME - ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS!

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Next To Last or Possibly My Last Firearms Qualification...

...as a federal agent took place today. I shot a 250/250 with the issued Sig 229 and then shot a 249/250 with the Glock 19. At the 25 yard line, I jerked the trigger on the very last shot and it flew a bit high and to the left, enough so to cause it to be inside the four ring. If this winds up being my last qualification it sure would have been nice to be going out with double distinguished expert scores. Hopefully I will get a chance to shoot next quarter but as things are turning out I may not have the opportunity - but I digress.

The shoot today was a lot of fun. Out of about one dozen shooters, I knew 3 of them. Man oh man there are a lot of newer and younger agents on the job these days; makes me feel like a dinosaur. It was nice for me that I also knew two of the three range officers there today. My cousin John being one of them. He is a good guy, an excellent firearms instructor/range officer and fun to BS with - and I am not saying that because he is family but because it is true.

After shooting today, I did something I do not usually do, I left before the guys firing long guns shot. The pistols quals and tactical shoots were completed but I usually stay until the end, I just felt like I needed to get home and get some things done but for the life of me I cannot remember of what  was thinking when I thought that. I did get to go to a Greek grocery store where I picked up some feta cheese, pita bread, a couple of varieties of olives and some almonds and also stopped at a pet shop where I picked up some black worms and 6 Cardinal Tetras (hard to find healthy looking ones over the past year or so and these looked almost excellent so I took the chance). Now before it gets really dark, I had best go out and collect my tortoises before it becomes a chore to find them. Again, I am digressing from writing about my last o next to last range day, but then again that is how it was, just another day with qualifications thrown in there.

I will miss range days a lot once I am retired.

All the best,
Glenn B

Double Indemnity, of a Sort, for Survival of the Species

As I posted before, my Hermann's Tortoise laid two clutches of eggs awhile back. They were laid about two weeks apart and consisted of 4 eggs each for a total of 8 eggs. I imagine that laying more than one clutch really is a sort of double indemnity for the species. Multiple clutches probably help the species survive not only because there are more eggs and thus more chances for new tortoises but because the clutches can be laid in different places and thus not all eggs would be detected at once by any predator.

As for the eggs my female laid, as it turned out, only 1 egg in each clutch wound up being fertile (this was the first time for her and the male, and while he is a bit young for a breeder, he is obviously endowed). One of the eggs, the one that was fertile from the first clutch, hatched on July 29th and I expected the one from the second clutch to hatch about 2 weeks after the other one. Over this past weekend, I was somewhat disappointed to see the egg had cracked and some of the inner membrane was sticking out somewhat precariously. I left it in the incubator anyway, hoping this was done by the tortoise moving around inside because it was ready to hatch even though I did not expect that for more than a week. On Tuesday, I took another look and the egg had hatched, half of the shell demolished and kicked away and the other half complete and still laying atop the tortoise hatchling. When I looked again last night, the baby tortoise had crawled away from the shell and buried itself in the substrate within the hatching chamber of the incubator. So there had been nothing to worry about after all.

It is nice to see these hatchlings made it from me caring for the adults properly, to fertilization, through egg laying, through my digging them up and putting them into the incubator, all the way to hatching. They can now live a long time, probably up to 40-50 years if not more. It is doubtful I will be around that long to care for them so, I am hopeful my son and daughter will learn how to care for them properly and that they will keep them. My daughter helps with their care now, as does my wife, feeding them often and y sons takes somewhat of an interest in them. They are very easy to care for if you take care to reliably supply them with a few specific requirements for their well being and if you make certain, while  mowing the backyard grass, to keep an eye open for them. (No the babies will not be allowed to roam the backyard as they would be able to escape though just about any crack or hole in the fences or get picked off by just about any bird; only our larger juvenile and adult torts get that outdoors roaming privilege during the nicer weather.)

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Double Indemnity...

...you know, when a life insurance policy pays double because someone died due to an accident. Double Indemnity also has a double meaning, well sort of, because it is also the name of one of the best thriller/suspense movies ever. The plot of the movie revolves around a murder committed and made to look like an accident so the wife (Barbara Stanwyck) of the deceased can collect double the insurance payout. This is all helped along by her insurance agent (Fred MacMurray). It looks like all is going well for the evil duo even though the insurance company manager thinks the husband committed suicide, for whatever reason, trying to make it look like an accident to leave double the money to his wife. The insurance company investigator (Edward G. Robinson) gives the manager the low down on why it could never have been suicide and it looks like the wife and the agent are going to be in the money. That is until the insurance company investigator feels like there is s chunk of concrete in his gut. It is probably acid reflux due to the cigars he smokes but he thinks it is a hunch that is eating away at him, a hunch that there was no way it was suicide, no way it was an accident, but more likely that it was murder. 

In my opinion, this is one of Edward G. Robinson's best roles and maybe the top for both Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck too.  A great movie, even if in B&W and and released in 1944, what a classic!

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What A Happy Day - Nothing Could Make It Less Than That

This afternoon, my wife, daughter, son, daughter's boyfriend, his parents, my wife's mother and brothers, and my brother's wife all came to our place for a BBQ. Little did my daughter know she had been set up. After we ate, she and her boyfriend took our 4 dogs for a walk. During the walk, he said something to the effect of "Hey wait a minute, what does Lucy have?" (Lucy is one of our Chihuahuas), he dropped to his knee, pulled out the ring and started to propose. He told us later, that Celina just said "I don't care what she has, let's get going". He mumbled this and  stuttered that and then just spit it out, that is the big question, and finally she was paying attention. All the while, 2 of his friends were nearby taking pictures of all of this. She said yes, and suddenly people from a nearby house were applauding. It seems the two young lady photographers had to ask some folks, nicely, to get off of their own lawn so as not to be in the pics and they obliged. They also stood watching through their window for the big moment and wund up being the cheer leading section. Very nice of them indeed!

Well, when the love birds got back to our house, we had the decorations and Champagne ready. Celina showed off her new rock. Everyone was happy. It was a good day all in all, what could make it stink - nothing at all no matter how bad. After all, it was her and his day. It was really nice for them and for the rest of us.

All the best,
GB

Friday, August 5, 2011

Our Appleseed Shoot Last Saturday

Brendan and I were pretty hyped up, last week, thinking about the then upcoming Appleseed Shoot on this past Saturday and Sunday. I was pretty amazed when he was up and at em at the prescribed time, one at which the sun itself was still looking pretty sleepy. Yes it was early for us, we planned on leaving by 6:30 at the latest and were up close to 5. Since we had gotten all our gear ready to go the night before, we were running right on time, even a little early. It gave us enough time to hit a local deli to get some breakfast and coffee and to pick up some sandwiches for lunch. I had been planning on making all that myself, but was really zonked the night before (I have been really run down lately and did not get a lot of sleep for the last 3 nights) so, I did not get to go to the supermarket to pick up cold cuts and such. That cost me dearly at the deli, live and learn I prepped well for day 2 on Saturday night but I am getting way ahead of myself.


Sooner than later, we were on the road headed to the range at Calverton, NY. That is about a 53 mile drive for us, one that during the normal course of our day would be a drag but that was not bad at all so early on a Saturday morning. There was no rush hour traffic as there would have been on a weekday, no beach goers (too early), hardly any speed traps set up, and not even just the normal amount of traffic of midday on any day. That made for a drive of just about an hour or a bit less.


When we got there, the gates were open (I won't talk about Brendan driving past the entrance, turning around, then missing it again before getting it right) and we drove right in. There were some cars parked to our left, all in a row, with a lady wearing a RWVA cap and we pulled in behind them. She greeted us with a big friendly smile. We had a nice chat while we waited for everyone else to show up. Soon after that, we were all headed toward the range. Once at the range, Brendan parked next to the guy who pulled into a space before us. As it turned out, the sand in that spot was loose and our front wheels dug in! Not a good sign but I got it out later on after a little effort. For now (for then?) we ignored it and got our gear, minus rifles, out and set up on the line. The rifles had to wait for safety reasons. The set up was a typical range, this one had an orange firing line and another orange line behind it which was a safety line we had to be behind whenever not on the firing line or forward of it such as when changing targets. I was surprised and somewhat , no not somewhat but very dismayed to see it was only a 25 yard line (though I believe the distance to have been debatable at a more likely 30 to 35 yards, so did Brendan and a few other seasoned shooters to who I spoke about it). I had believed we would be shooting out to at least 100 yards, maybe further, on an actual range of that distance. Instead, I discovered, again to my disappointment, that we would shoot at reduced sized targets at only 25 yards. Those tiny targets are all well and good for games and fun but they do not replicate what it is like to shoot at targets over real distance in my opinion. The real disappointment here was that we both had truly hoped to learn how to shot at distances greater than 50 yards (which is the farthest we usually shoot) while considering ballistics, wind and so forth. No big deal though, just a personal disappointment and  we would live with it and shoot at make believe distance using scaled targets.


The Calverton Range is what I would call fairly primitive along the lines of what is called a primitive campsite for comparison. Yes there are some developed aspects of it, it does have a backstop -basically the range was dug out of a hillside, target hangers consisting of poles with wire stretched between them and very flimsy cardboard backers strung along the target line, a firing line and a safety line but that was about it for our range. There were no benches, no tables, no overhang for protection from the sun, no restrooms (although there was a single port-a-potty about 50-75 yards from us). At another range we passed in the same complex there were benches for individual shooters (an addition since I was last at this range years ago). There is a reason this place is referred to as The Sand Pits, other than being on a gravel company's property from what I can tell, and it pretty much lives up to its name.  While we set up though, I got a lesson in what an Appleseed Junkie brings to a shoot. Many  seasoned shooters had pop up canopies. A great idea for a range like this one. They provided needed protection from what turned out to be a pretty hot and glaring sun. Brendan and I were invited to share the shade with a bunch of folks I would guess were of Chinese descent. A young lady named Ivy, among that group, and also one of the RWVA volunteers was nice enough to offer. Most folks also had those nylon fold-up chairs (sport's chairs?) and most had coolers full of icy cold goodness. We had lunch and water aplenty but no cooler. My forgetfulness on that one. Some folks also brought folding tables on which to set up their spotting scopes and other accessories and supplies. For the line, almost everyone had a shooting mat. We only had a single campers mat that sufficed and the RWVA guys lent us another. Just about everyone had other necessary items too, like sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and the like. I also brought along some bug spray for ticks. The east end of Long Island is notorious as a hot spot for Lyme Disease and having had it twice I did not want to get it again nor did I want Brendan to ever get it.


I can say this, it pays to be well prepared for such a shoot. Of course, Brendan and I had our guns & ammo, food, water (though I had to buy more water at lunchtime), sunscreen, hats, shooting glasses and muffs, and so on. We were ready and prepared to shoot but not prepared for the shoot as well as we could have been. So, on Saturday, I figured I had best correct that for Sunday and on Sunday I was better prepared.


Well, once everyone was set-up, the RWVA volunteer instructors, they are all volunteers, got the show underway with some range rules and safety training. They also brought up some history and would interject history into the firearms training at various points of the day. Most, if not all, of the history centered on April 19, 1775, the day the American Revolution commenced as a shooting war. (April 19 is also my wedding anniversary, the day a war of another type was commenced.) The safety training was fairly decent to pretty good, the history was just fun. I am always amazed at how few people have a clue as to our Nation's history; not that I am a historian but I do know some of the facts. Some people at this shoot did not know any of it from what I could tell. They know now though, and that is a good thing. Maybe, if it sank in a bit, or if they attend an Appleseed Shoot again when they will hear it all again, they will be ready to take up arms in defense of our Nation and the Constitution if ever needed here within our own borders or on foreign soil.


After the safety training and some history lessons came the shooting. We began with a volley of 13 rounds apiece at a redcoat target. Then we got serious and we fired at targets that were representative of a human torso at distances of 100 yards out to 400 yards. It was a single piece of paper with various sized target torsos on them, if I remember right they were scaled for 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards. I am guessing we shot at least 240 rounds at that target on Saturday. Almost all of the shooting was done from the prone position though some was also from the standing position. For the life of me I cannot recall if we got to the seated position on Saturday or if they was only on Sunday. All of the shooting was to be done with the shooters utilizing GI type adjustable slings and they showed us a few ways to use slings for support.  I was happy that Brendan got his first taste of using a sling for support and that I was reintroduced to it. They did not only teach use of the sling, they taught the basics such as sight alignment, sight picture, breathing, natural point of aim, trigger control, follow through and so on. They also included info on misfires, hangfires, sqibs, etc. and what to do if you encountered one. Safety was always the number one concern The instructors took turns in giving range commands or acting as range safety officers. It was all done very well.


If a shooter qualifies with a score of 210 or higher, then he or she gets a patch. neither Brendan or I achieved that score. Either one or both of us may actually have gotten that score but we did not realize that our early targets were being scored and tossed em out.Realistically though neither one of us probably qualified. I was shooting my SKS (which malfunctioned on Sunday and needs repairs for a problem I will not describe until it is fixed) and Brendan was shooting an AR. His batteries, in the red dot scope, failed and he had to switch to his other AR. He did well with both but better with the one with the red dot scope. I did okay, surprisingly good on some rounds and not as well on others, not keeping up any consistency. I was having some difficulty getting used to the scope and a lot more dealing with the sun and the temps in the low 90s (I am pretty sure it hut 93). All day in the sun just got to me and as the day wore on so did my eyesight wear down. By the time we were almost finished  I could barely see the front sight let alone focus on it. Getting older sucks. I think next time I go, I will bring a scoped 22 as quite a few folks had with them. Maybe my Marlin in 22 magnum. Yep, it is a bolt action. While it would be hard to shoot this course with a centerfire bolt action because it is timed, and the time is fairly brief, it could probably be done with a bolt action rimfire. Now there is something I forgot to mention earlier - while RWVA says you can bring any rifle, you probably are better off if you bring a semi-automatic and that uses removable box magazines that are at least of 10 round capacity (where legal). They give the shooter no consideration for loading time if you are loading individual rounds into something like an SKS or a Mosin-Nagant. I know already, that I can operate the Marlin bolt action fast but am not sure it would be fast enough for this course. I will practice with it between now and the next Appleseed I attend to get my speed up.  If I can get is fast enough, I figure I'll give it a try and save a lot on ammo costs - otherwise I may just throw a scope on my Ruger 10/22 and bring that along.
Lots of folks do pass the course with a qualifying score but I don't know if anyone got it on Saturday. They make a big deal about every accomplishment so I would have thought they would have made a big deal of it if they had awarded patches but I did not notice them doing it. So, I have to guess no one qualified. I will go again. Heck, I did go again on Sunday, because I liked it on Saturday.


On Sunday, as I said, my rifle failed and I switched to my SKS. I quit about 2/3 of the way through the day because trying to keep up while loading individual rounds into the SKS was futile. Besides that I was totally worn out. Day two would have been much more fun had Brendan come along. On the way home on day one, he had to pull over and had me drive the rest of the way home because he was passing out. The long day, the blazing sun, the heat had all gotten to him. When we got home I complained I was stiff and achy and he laughed at me. A couple of hours later he had the same complaint for himself. Oh the youth of today. I just smiled at him. He also had one heck of a sunburn regardless of the fact that he applied sunblock several times over the course of the day and I do mean several like about 8 to 10 times in about the 6 hours that this shoot lasted. The event day should have been longer but classes on both days were cut short, which I think was pure bullshit for the reasons given such as they had the range reserved for someone else on Sunday after 2:30, yet all of us had paid for full days - but I digress. As it turned out, probably mostly because of the sunburn, Brendan opted out for day two. I do not blame him, I have seen how badly he can burn and it is just as bad as I can burn or worse. Me, I also got some color, but I spent more time in the shade under canopies of other shooters than did he. I guess that made the difference because I was not badly burned.


As for Sunday overall, it was more of Saturday with a bit more advancement thrown in. As I said, I cut my day short for a few reasons but I still had fun. I am pretty sure I will go again but in cooler weather. Regardless of the minor annoyances I mentioned, it was truly a nice experience and the people running it made it that way. They were serious about safety and training but also made sure to throw in a few fun shoots each day, like shooting at an instructors old hat (he was just promoted from orange to red hat) and shooting at watermelons. As I mentioned above, all the folks from RWVA were volunteers. They had red hat instructors (veterans), orange hat instructors (new instructors), and blue hats (non-instructor volunteers). They were all great at getting their tasks done and doing it safely. They were also very personable. The shooters who attended also seemed to be mostly very nice folks. I am pretty sure if we keep going to these shoots we will be sure to make plenty of new friends among the instructors and the shooters.


If you are serious about improving your shooting skills, or about doing something patriotic regardless of your political stance) or if you just want to have a nice day shooting, I strongly recommend an Appleseed Shoot,


All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Great Gun Movie Line

Mother speaking to her son, the assassin:

"A Beretta! A Beretta for your seventh birthday - the pistol of princes. No boy could have asked for more."

What a mom!

Music to my ears, from the movie Wild Target. Better than Shakespeare (well close to better anyway).

All the best,
GB

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Today, August 2, 2011, Just Plain Sucked!

Today was not a good day for me. I am not going to go into why, nor will I complain about this little thing or that little thing even though there was a lot of that little pain in the arse stuff, for me, today. I have done that all too much throughout my life, that is complain about little things. In fact I have done it way too much. When a couple or a few little things build up, I often break down or rant and rave and make stuff worse by not helping make them better, then still have to try to fix things up. It does not help that I alienate folks (mostly family) by getting angry over small stuff to nothing. I can tell you, when they say "don't sweat the small stuff", they are right. It's just been really hard for me not to be bothered by all the minutiae at home. I guess my upbringing had a lot to do with it, I never learned any other way. No excuses, just reasoning as to why it happens. Anyway, I have improved much over the past few years. Still far from perfect in that regard but I have been getting better.


Then there is the big stuff; when it comes to the big stuff, well, I am usually much better able to handle it. For some reason it usually does not get me all bent out of shape or send me into a yelling and blaming tantrum when things go really bad. I just usually do what needs to be done when faced with bigger problems. I think today was a pretty good indication of that for myself but as I said, other than to say that today really sucked, I will not go into it in more detail. The only other thing I can say is that I hope I keep improving with the way I handle the little things and hope I keep on handling the big stuff, the same way I handled my day today. It's just better for everyone involved.

By the way, even though today sucked for me, I have to admit that I was lucky in a couple of ways because some things really fell into place for me. Not enough to counterbalance the crappy stuff but enough to put a smile on my face a couple of times today and one of those things was very important for me and my family. Just because you have a bad day is no reason to disregard the good that came along on that same day; heck, maybe it is more reason to look for the good or for ways to make things better. Despite having a bad day, I did manage to make something better for my family today and I guess that was the most important aspect of the day for me. Maybe, after all, today did not suck as bad as I was thinking it did - nah really it did but I was lucky there was something good about it too.


All the best,
Glenn B

Shotgun Shooter - Tacticool or Fool

Each time I think I have seen the dumbest, I see someone who, in my opinion, does something dumber. The video you are about to view is just over 4 years old but today was maybe the first time I saw it (I don't remember seeing it before for sure but it does seem vaguely familiar). If you have not seen it, it is worth watching. If you have seen it before, it is worth watching again. It is a fast one but one that should impart a good deal of wisdom to you relative to shooting a shotgun without a stock. It also goes to show that looking tacticool does not mean you know anything about firearms or shooting them. I think the guy was pretty much a jerk to have tried shooting that gun like he did, but he may be smarter now; I figure he learned something.



All the best,
GB

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Storm A Couple of Villages Over, Bigger Hail Was Falling - On Our Car

Speaking of hail (in my prior post), when my wife got home, she showed me our Toyota Corolla. She had it parked in an outside parking lot during the hail storm while in nearby New Hyde Park. She was inside watching the storm while pea to snowball sized hailstones bombarded that area. Yes, some hit our car. There are now many small dents all over the car, one large one the size of a baseball, the rear windshield was totally smashed, front windshield badly cracked, car interior covered with glass and soaking wet (including rear speakers). Luckily the car was parked and she was inside when this happened and Linda is okay just shaken up from the drive home with the car in such shape and while it was still raining somewhat. 

I have already made an insurance claim online. Hopefully they will respond quickly and get us a rental car until ours is repaired.  I wonder if I have that rental car coverage, I hope so. Well, I know the damage is covered.

All the best,
GB

Very Heavy Rain and Thunder and Lightning...

video
...and as if that was not enough you can add flooding and hail to it now. Those have been the local conditions in Central and Western XXXXX County and I live pretty much in the middle of the county. I was driving back to my office from XXXXXXX, XX when I decided to turn off of the highway because of the weather. Soon after, I decided it would be best to call it quites for the day and just head home because it was coming down so hard as to male driving very unsafe. Even with the wipers on full blast it was hard to see because of the rain. Then the thunder and lightning started and soon the rain was falling even harder. I pulled over in the parking lot of a drug store and waited it out and waited and waited. I sat there for over one hour and it did not abate. Then I figured, oh well, I'll head home but the road was flooded where an underpass went under rail tracks and I had to go another way. The street I drove down looked like a river, no exaggeration. The traffic on that other way was at a dead standstill. I tried another route and got through. Curbside on my block had a stream about 4 feet wide running down the block, the intersection at the corner was totally flooded. Just before I parked my car, the really hard stuff started to fall - hail stones. At first they were about the size of peas then within a couple of minutes they were the size of large marbles, like large cherries. I ran from the car into the house and got soaked in the course of about 15 seconds. I was greeted at the side door by the dog, they were pretty skittish, I guess the weather had gotten our doorbell to keep going off and that with the thunder, hail banging on the house and the heavy rain probably had them just about bonkers. I took the bell down and pulled out the batteries. Then I calmed the dogs and gave them a snack. Pepe, our male Chihuahua, would not take one and I had to calm him for over 10 minutes before he ate one. He must have been really bothered by all the din.

That kept up about 15-20 minutes after I got into the house. Then, almost as suddenly as it started I stopped hearing the hail ricocheting off of our windows. The dogs are calm now. I checked www.localweather.com and saw that 2-3 inches of rain had fallen in the hour before 4:46. My guess would be more than 2 1/2 inches all told around where I live after measuring the depth of water in 2 large basins in my yard. One had 2 1/2" the other had 2 3/4 inches. Luckily for us, no flooding that I have seen though I am sure some neighbors are not that lucky. I do not care where you live in the USA, 2-3 inches of rain in an hour is an overabundance of the wet stuff for sure.

That is it for now. I am going to see if the dogs will go out now that it has slowed down.

All the best,
Glenn B