Friday, January 29, 2010

New Blog Link Added - Sheepdog's Blog

Tonight I added a new blog link to my blog roll:

Sheepdog's Blog under 'Grumps, Geeks, Gun Guys, and Geniuses - All Worth A Read and Who Gave Me A Courtesy Link - Thanks'

All the best,

Linked To A Medical Info Site

I was checking the Internet tonight to see if I could figure out what other sites to this blog. I like to keep up on who provides links to this blog on their blog roll. If I find another blog with a respectful link to my site in its blog roll, I give that blog a reciprocal courtesy link. I also list lots of links on my blog site that do not reciprocate to me but I try to make sure that anyone who gives a link to my blog (in a respectful manner) gets likewise from me for their site.

Well, while looking tonight, I was quite surprised to find that my blog - or at least a post in my blog - was given a link on at: and at:

Not only did they provide a link but it was lsited under the header:

"The Top 10 Resources on Ear Damage from Gunshots
Expert-approved health links for the Ear Damage from Gunshots WisdomCard"

What does that do for me? Not much except to amuse me greatly.
They provide that link under a section about 'Ear Damage From Gunshots'. I am okay with that because their posting of it the link seems to indicate they are not anti-gun since my post basically tells you how to protect your eyes and ears while enjoying shooting sports. I am not saying they are pro-gun but hopefully are at least neutral.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This Wireless Computing Thing... all new to me. Sure, at home we have a router (I think that is what it is called) and three computers in the house get the Internet over that. The main PC in the living room is hardwired. The thing is though that the other 3 computers are never used by me. One is an old desktop in my son's room, the other is a laptop shared by him and my wife that my daughter gave to them, the third is a newer laptop that my daughter bought. The PC I am on right now is the laptop that my wife gave me for Christmas. (Wow a 5 computer home all of a sudden, when not too long ago I think we had 2 and that seemed extravagant to me.) Well anyway, I don't ever use one of the ones set up for wireless but this evening is different.

I just got to my apartment in Phoenix after a long day of work. I decided that since it was pretty nice outside, at least fairly warm and I am guessing it to be around 65, I would sit at poolside and do something on the laptop. Then I remembered it was not hardwired outside and that the apartments do not have Wi-fi or anything like it. Well I clicked on an icon for wireless access and several wireless available connections showed up. As I thought, they almost all required a password because these were network or wireless connections that people were using and had paid for and into which they did not want freeloaders trespassing. As it turns out, one was not password protected, it is called Lynksys (which I believe is a wireless provider). So I logged on and here I am posting to my blog. I am just amazed at how someone can do this.

I imagine this is legal since the access was available over the air and did not require a password. I imagine that maybe this is the free wireless Internet access from a cafe about a block away. Does it travel that far, I guess it must because I cannot imagine anyone not password protecting their own wireless Internet access! If it does not travel that far, I wonder from where it would be coming to be available to me? Is some shifty character leaving his or her wireless account unprotected by a password so others can sign on using it and then the steal info off of my PC. I hope not but my PC is in protected mode right now regarding the Internet connection. Or is a Wireless Internet Provider being nice and putting it out in the area. I doubt that because while I do believe in fairies, I do not believe in the Internet Fairy? I suppose I am just receiving the benefit of the corner cafe's free wireless Internet or that of someone who has not password protected their access. Oh well - if I am doing something wrong, someone please let me know ASAP. Otherwise I intend to use this as often as it is nice enough to sit outside at poolside to blog.

You see, the setting out here is sort of like it was in the 1954 Hitchcock classic 'Rear Window' starring Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly as the good guys and with Raymond Burr (of Perry Mason and Ironside fame) as the bad guy. Although not a courtyard anywhere nearly as complicated as the one in the movie set, this one is pretty neat even if only rectangular with a pool in the middle. The numerous balconies opening out onto it provide an aura of intrigue that makes one wonder what is going on behind those rear windows. Luckily for me, my room does not face the pool area so I won't be tempted to go looking. Still though, there is an intriguing atmosphere here and being able to blog while in the middle of it is simply marvelous.

I suppose the names of some of the wireless connections also add to the intrigue. For example one has to wonder who are the folks and what are the stories of the people who gave their wireless Internet links names like: HolyCute, Tatardini, TheAttic, lordsquishy, sandbags, H.A.L. and ILOVECOCK (I swear that is one of them but I could never have imagined anyone being so brazen as to use something like that for their network name until now). Oh well, hopefully I may meet some of them and get to know them and also hopefully I will never find out about some of them like that last one. As it is though, night is coming on, what with it being an overcast evening and it is getting almost to dark to see the keyboard. The atmosphere is indeed intriguing and has me almost expecting to see Jimmy Stewart looking out of one of the windows at me, or maybe Bogart coming out of a doorway as in 'In A Lonely Place'.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Hiking I Did Go - And It Was About Time Too

I have been here in Phoenix since December 28th and today was the first day I went for a hike. I started a diet about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks ago and probably have not lost more than a couple or three pounds. The thing is I have not been exercising as I should have been doing. My old friend, or should I say nemesis, Arthur I. Tis was pestering me (and has been still for several months now). I have to get over it and stop using it as an excuse because it is nowhere near as as bad now as it was a few months ago. In other words, I have no excuses except laziness for not exercising lately, at least since I have been here in Arizona. In fact, I guess I have exercised somewhat by going for walks up to about 4 miles through the city. These have been pretty tame at least for pace and difficulty and today I finally decided to get my behind in gear and to get out to do some hiking up in the mountains.

I drove out of Phoenix's northeast corner and headed north-northeast along route 87. After about and hour and fifteen minutes I arrived at the trailhead for the Pine Creek Loop Trail which leads to the Ballantine Trail. I had headed that way knowing exactly where I wanted to hike but certainly could not remember the name of the place. You see, about 6 or 7 years ago, I was out here on another work assignment and I spent quite a few mornings, afternoons and evenings hiking along the same trails. It was exactly as I remembered it when I arrived at the trailhead about 49 miles from my apartment. The temperature was fairly cool at about 50 degrees F, the sun was shining and there was a very slight breeze - perfect weather for a hike. I started out from the trailhead at about 2,240 feet and headed up the south portion of the loop. This is a steep climb, especially for an overweight middle aged guy like me who is out of shape and who was carrying about a 25 pound backpack. I have read accounts that this trail is easy, maybe if you start out on the much less steep north portion and return on the south portion. I started the other way around, and at least one other hiker who has written an online description of this trail agrees with me that taking the south portion of the loop going in is on the tougher side because it is a pretty steep climb. See the uppermost pic to see what it looked like looking down from about 3/4 of the way to the summit of the Pine Creek Trail, click on it to enlarge to see the truck on the highway below.

Regardless, I took the steeper trail going in. I got about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile in and had to take a break for about 10 minutes, it was pretty steep and I am out of shape. Too bad I did not realize that the north loop was there and easier, I just did not remember it until I was well under way with the hike. As I hiked I remembered that the trail had another side to it and was a loop but it was too late I was committed to this side first. I got to the Ballantine Trailhead in about 42 minutes of actual hiking. I averaged about 2.14 mph over the 1.5 miles of that portion of the hike. Not bad for a fat old man going up such a steep hill with a 25 pound pack but I figure that if I actually stay here for another two months I will better that by about .75 mph. I was walking at a 2.85 to 3.0 mph rate on my hikes at Madera Canyon back in the spring (that is if memory serves me right). All it will take is that I continue with the hiking. After that I figure I hiked about .35 to .5 miles up to an elevation of 2,800 feet. I figured this using the same pace I made up the steepest portion of the Pine Creek Loop Trail but truth is I was walking faster now as it was easier going, so maybe it was .5 miles but I will be conservative and figure it at the same slower speed. I used a GPS to figure the elvation, not a real hiking GPS but one from my car. Then I took a nice long break and enjoyed the a quick lunch of a hard boiled egg, several macadamia nuts and a bottle of water. Along with lunch, I also enjoyed the scenery including deep dark blue skies, red rock formations, the cacti and ohe flora, snow covered mountain peaks and so on. While sitting there I thought I saw some movement among the rocks and sure enough, despite the pretty low temperatures, there was a lizard on one of the boulders soaking up some rays. I thought I had seen a lizard or two while hiking up the trail but only caught a quick movement out of the corner of my eye each time. Now I was sure I had seen those others, just not clearly. See the accompanying pic.

After about an hour or so at the spot where I decided to stop, I headed back down toward my car. I figured that a 3.5 mile hike or so would be good enough for me and that is what I figured I would complete once back to the car. My calculations later revealed it was closer to 3.7 miles, maybe even 4 that I had actually hiked. The trail down was much easier as almost all of it was downhill. This time I walked the north end of the Pine Creek Loop Trail and I have to point out it would have been much easier on me had I also chosen that way in and used the southern portion of the loop on the way out. Of course you can use just one to come and go on if you choose. If you chose the south trail both coming and going, it provides steeper climbing because some of it going out is also uphill. This is because on the inbound trip you climb to a small peak then drop down to Ballantine Trailhead. So you have to go up that short portion when going out on the south trail.

Hopefully I will keep up the hiking at least once or twice a week as I did when I was in Tucson. The exercise combined with my no junk food snacks diet really peeled the pounds off, too bad I did not stick with it once I was back in NY. This time I will try harder. Even if the pounds do not come off as much (since I only started hiking now after being here almost a month and I started right away in Tucson and had 4 months to lose weight when there as opposed the the two I have remaining here) it will be worth the effort for cardio and for getting out to see the lay of the land. It was truly a beautiful hike, and is only about 48 miles from the center of downtown Phoenix. As for the trail, it was pretty eroded in places and some of it passed over granite that was crumbling and wet so it can be slippery. It was also pretty muddy in places as the area had record rainfall last week. This left the two creeks, that you see on this hike, cascading down the mountain sides into the valley below, it also left parts of the trail pretty muddy and slippery but not too bad to walk on if you were careful. I think more rain has been promised for later in the week, so I expect trail conditions will be much the same if I get a chance to go there again on my next days off which are Sunday and Monday next week.

If you live in or are visiting the area and have never hiked this trail, I highly recommend it. I also recommend taking the Ballantine Trail much further than did I. It is a beautiful hike as remember from my trip out here several years ago when I hiked most of it several times and all of it at least once.

All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 46 - The Cost of Ammunition - It Baffles Me

Not all that long ago, I bought a case of 7.62x39 at a good price as compared to the prices over the year before the purchase. I was happy, I thought that even though it was still pretty expensive the fact that the price had come down was an indication to me that all ammo prices would be falling soon. I guesses that because oil prices had fallen, then ammo prices would fall too; you may remember that most raises in ammo pricing was said to be due to the increase in the cost of oil (i.e.: as in the cost of gasoline being used to transport it). I am no longer too certain of that, in fact I doubt my earlier assessment was even close to the mark.

The reason I am so doubtful that ammo prices will soon be falling is because ammo prices seem to be stagnant for some types of ammo, going up higher than ever for some other types of ammunition and because other types are just not available. The particular thing that brought this to my attention was that I have been finding it next to impossible to find .35 Remington 200 gr. soft-points at a reasonable price. The actually has this round from one manufacturer - Remington. They are going for $29.37 a box of 20 rounds, - plus shipping. This is up from the $22 - $24.00 per box that the same company was charging only a few months ago as I recall. It is also well above a 100 percent increase in price for the same type of ammo when I bought it just under 2 years ago for $13.97 per box, see here. That ammo was by Winchester, but was the same grain weight and usually sells within a buck or two either way of the Remington ammo. Folks let me repeat, that was less than 2 years ago! That is an amazing price increase, almost a 114% increase!

Now add that price increase to the fact that a place like also usually offers about 5 or 6 choices of ammo in that same caliber differing either by brand and or by grain weight (150 and 200 grains are typically available). If you go to the link for the available .35 Remington they have as of this writing, you will see they have only two types including the highly overpriced one, in my opinion, that I mentioned above. I went to some other sites to such as, Natchez Shooters Supply. Cheaper Than Dirt offers 5 types of .35 Remington broken down to offerings from 4 manufacturers in 200 gr. and one offering from one of those same manufacturers in 150 gr. Only the 150 gr. (the less popular one as far as I am aware) is available from them. Natchez Shooter Supply also offers 4 brands in 200 gr. and one of those brands in 150 gr. They have the Hornady LeverEvolution at 22.24 per box, all the others are sold out. A few other websites had similar offerings or none at all in stock when it came to .35 Remington.

A quick check of several other websites who offer ammo for sale revealed that other even more popular ammo is also out of stock for the most part. Lots of them advertise 7.62x39 but are out of stock on most of the types they offer. AIM Surplus offers three types of 7.62x39 ammo on their current site (at the time I wrote this). They show two offerings of 500 round half cases and both of them are out of stock. Individual boxes of 20 rounds per box are available in Wolf at $4.59 per box or $4.39 per box if you buy 50 or more (50 boxes would make for a case of 1,000 rounds). That would be $219.50 plus shipping for a thousand rounds; actually a good price by today's pricing. While that is a good price, I have to wonder though, do they actually have 1,000 rounds in stock and how much it would come to with shipping. Usually places like AM offer a few types of Wolf in that same caliber. The one currently offered is in FMJ only. also offers Wolf 7.62x39 ammo here. They also offer it at a decent price as far as current pricing goes. They offer it in FMJ at $239.00 and in JHP at $259.00, shipping included for both. They do not offer soft points nor in other grain weights which used to be readily available. As a matter of fact, I did not see the grain weight of the bullets mentioned anywhere for this particular ammo. hey also offer some Egyptian made ammo in this caliber but it uses corrosive primers as I understand it. They have 10 other types of 7.62x39 ammo listed on their site, but it is all out of stock as I write.

Classic Arms offers the Wolf 7.62x39 at $289.00 per case in both the FMJ and Soft-Point. I do not know if it includes shipping. Regardless, it is not a good price in my opinion. They also have some other ammo in this caliber, but it too is listed as corrosive. Corrosive ammo is not for me but if you like it, it looks to be a decent deal at $249.95 for a case of 1,260 rounds of brass cased ammunition. Again though, note the primers are corrosive.

There are other examples of high priced ammo that I have seen lately. For instance I visited Big 5 Sporting Goods here in Phoenix. They had .32 ACP FMJ in 50 round boxes going for just over $32.00 per box! Maybe it was the wrong price, the clerk said it was not, but that is an insanely high price as I see it. I checked Internet pricing for the same ammo, it was offered by at $33.97 per box of 50 rounds. Granted that also had several other types and brands of .32 Auto available and some of the prices, at less than half of the above, were much more reasonable for what amounts to basically the same ammo. I don't get it though because no regular .32 Auto is, in my estimation, worth anywhere near $34.00 per box, including Remington green boxed ammo which is the one going for nearly that amount. Even Magtech 65 gr. FMJ in .32 auto was high priced at $12.87 per box, although I will admit this is much closer to what the price for such ammo should be to be considered decently priced in my mind. Just about 2 years ago I was getting it for about $8.00 to $9.00 per box.

Sticking with .32 Auto, I took a look to They offer ten types of .32 auto but only show one available as I write. The one they offer is a specialty ammo so maybe I should not even bother mentioning that it costs $13.39 for only 8 rounds! By the way, I went back and checked availability on because I forgot to do so. Of the 24 types of .32 Auto (also called .32 ACP) on the page for, they only had 4 types listed as in stock!

Other ammo is also very high priced as compared to a couple of years ago. back then I could pick up a brick of .22LR ammunition form less than $10 and there were a variety of brands available at that price. Yesterday, at the Cross Roads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, AZ, I saw a brick of CCI Blazer in .22LR selling for $22.00 and a brick of American Eagle going for $19.99. Those prices are ridiculous, well at least in my estimation. I don't know the cause of the price increases. Fist they said it was due to the cost of gasoline, then they said it was due to the cost of everything going up because the cost of gasoline went up. Gas prices have fallen quite a bit but not most ammo prices. Then they said it was due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the shortages of materials to make ammo because of military contracts. Yet 7.62x39 is again available, if not as much as before it is out there, and it would be one of the most used by foreign military groups. Then they laid blame on the anticipated buying frenzy that most of us predicted would take place if Barack Obama was elected president. The buying rage took place for sure. maybe it is a combination of all three things, maybe other things added in too. The thing is that the industry has had more than enough time to rebound from all of the above and probably should be able to keep it coming but for some reason it is not doing so. I wonder if the ammo shortages and high pricing is also due in part to our the fact that our productive capabilities are dwindling as we become closer and closer to becoming a 3rd world nation. maybe and maybe not, but whatever the reasons, it is of grave concern to me because it seems to be indicative of something not being right with the way things are going. Oh, one other thing - I don't think it is due to the recession - and yes we are still in a recession even if the current administration denies it. Just look to last months housing sales if you doubt we are in a recession. Despite a slow to poor economy and being in a recession, the fact is that when ammunition is available, sales of it remain brisk even at inflated prices. So it is not like they are not selling enough of it, heck maybe they are selling to much but somehow - what with our technology and capabilities I tend to doubt it - or just do not want to believe that our manufacturers cannot, for whatever reason, keep up with demand..

Please note, I am no trying to indicate in any way anything degrading about any of the above companies, be they ammunition retailers or manufacturers. I have used just about all of them for purchases before and will probably continue to do so. All I am saying is that prices are high compared to just 2 years ago, way higher, and even when some pricing seems good now the truth is that ammo is not as readily available as it was a year or two ago. I guess I am also saying that some if it still seems to be going up in price too such as the .35 Remington. I have to wonder when the increases in price are going to stop, when ammo prices will fall if ever) and when the availability of ammo will increase to what it was just a short time ago.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, January 24, 2010

If I Have Ever Seen A Team Blow A Football Game...

...I saw it this evening in the Minnesota Viking loss to the New Orleans Saints. It was a disgrace - too many men in the huddle resulting in a penalty taking the Vikings out of field goal range with very little time remaining. Then Favre passing across the field instead of running down the wide open right side of the field - he certainly could have gotten back into field goal range and they would likely have won the game then and there (heck he could have crawled to regain the yardage the field was so wide open). What a way to blow it! New Orleans deserved to win just for not screwing up as much.

All the best,
Glenn B

Gun Show Booty

When I went out late this morning I was greeted by cool crisp air that was invigorating to say the least. I guessed it was either in the high forties or low fifties and the thermometer in my car confirmed my guess, it was right at 50. Nice day to do something instead of staying cooped up in the apartment and I was off to enjoy it. I did not have to go far, just about 2 miles and I arrived at my destination - the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. When I got there I drove up to the parking lot attendants' booths and saw why so many people were parking outside on the street and walking in. The parking fee was $10.00! No wonder the couple just outside the entrance who were operating a parking had a lot that was almost full for $5.00 a car! I decided I could use the walk and parked a long block away from the entrance. I guess I had to walk about 1/4 of a mile to get in to the show, but the exercise I got on such a fine morning and the money I saved were well worth the minimal effort.

Once in the fairgrounds are I the admission fee - a whopping $14.00. I had thought the gun show at Middletown, NY had gotten expensive last time I was there, it was around $9.00 to get in; it seems I had no idea what expensive really was back then. Oh well, I coughed it up anyway because I did want to see what was for sale despite the fact that I would not be able to buy a gun since I am a NY resident. After getting over the shock of the admission fee, I made my way into the show. It was being held in three large buildings that probably also do lots of other duties at other fairground events like rodeos, stock shows, antique shows, country fairs and so on. Luckily I walked into the largest of the buildings first. I say that was lucky because it was the one with the most displays of guns as opposed to displays of items that have nothing to do with guns and that I believe don't belong at guns shows. As seems to be the case with every gun show I have visited in various states, gun shows nowadays also draw a good number of vendors who sell things like: knives, books, military surplus items other than firearms, candy, tee shirts, beef jerky, hand lotions, toys, Nazi memorabilia and other things. Some of those things go hand in had with guns such as the knives (well if only because most guns shows are listed as gun & knife shows), books about guns and maybe some of the Tee-shirts (at least those with gun themes or logos on them). Stuff like candy, beef jerky, hand lotion and Nazi memorabilia have no place therein in my opinion.

The Nazi memorabilia and reproductions of medals, and Nazi armbands that one dealer had on display were enough to get my blood boiling. This especially in light of the fact that the Crossroads of the West Gun Show rules plainly state that prohibited items include items glorifying Nazism or items offensive to the general public. I would have to say that a table full of Nazi armbands, medals, flags, books and other propaganda was pretty offensive. I know, I know - freedom of speech. Truth is freedom of speech applies to a right/freedom that the government cannot deny you, however a private concern such as Crossroads of the West is fully within its own rights to prohibit such items at its shows. Too bad they do not enforce their own rules. If it was up to me I would have thrown the guy out post haste. I wasn't going to let one jerk ruin my day though and moved on quickly from in front of that guys table.

As I walked around the show, going from one aisle to the next, I have to admit I was pretty impressed. In this, the larger of the three buildings used for the gun show, there were lots of tables from which the vendors were selling pretty much nothing other than guns, guns parts, gun gear and accessories, and ammunition. Yeah there were some vendors like the guy with the Nazi crap, and some selling things like tee-shirts, or beef jerky, but this gun show was definitely geared toward selling guns and lots of them. That was like a breath of fresh air compared to some shows I have been to in recent years. I don't know how many tables were set up but there were definitely hundreds of them, maybe even a thousand (between all three exhibit buildings).

Since I could not buy a gun, I only gave most some glancing looks. Well actually I could have bought one from an FFL dealer if he would have been willing to ship it to an FFL in NY for me - but the expense of that would not have been worthwhile unless I would have found an earth shattering deal. No deals like that were to be had, at least none that I saw. There were some good prices on guns though but you really had to do some hard looking. The reason you had to look so hard was because of many of the guns had very high to ridiculously high prices. For example there were Russian SKSs going for over $600 each. They were in crappy condition too. This seems to be the norm at every gun show I have been to in the past two years. I saw A Mosin Nagant M44 selling for almost $400. It was at best in good condition and also at best a $125 gun.

There was a difference here though - from those other overinflated shows - not all of the dealers were selling at overinflated prices, some actually had decent to good prices - and a select few had some great deals. I suppose most of the good deals though were to be found among the non-dealers who came to the show and brought along a gun of three to sell. There were quite a few people looking to make private sales, and some of them had some good deals up for offer, I figure to have seen at least 30 people walking around with firearms offered for private sales.

As I made my way around the tables, my eye was caught once or twice (maybe even four or five times) by something extra nice. For example there was a nice Stevens Pump action .22 rifle. It was going for $250 and was in truly excellent condition. I If I would have held it and looked at it long enough to have gotten the model number I probably would have gone into withdrawal what with my not being able to buy it. There was also a Beretta Model 70 Jaguar (I think it was actually a Model 72, but again did not handle it due to fear of going into withdrawal). It was pretty nice, at least the side I could see. Fine to near excellent finish. It had the long barrel on it, and came with the original box from the look of it. he woman selling it was asking $350. That was no bargain but it was a nice gun and if she would have come down in price then someone probably would have bought it. If I saw it back in NY I would have haggled my best. As it was, I just passed it buy with a twinkle in my eye.

Of course, if you know me at all, then you know it is nigh impossible for me to go to a gun show and not buy something. I stopped at several tables exhibiting knives being that I have had it in mind to buy a boot knife. I saw one that was a piece of junk and passed on it. Now this being a gun show meant I would almost certainly have to buy something gun related. As it wound up I did buy a few things. My first purchase came when I was making my second go round of each of the buildings and was at a conglomeration of one ammo dealer's tables. I picked up a couple of boxes of Sellier & Bellot .40 S&W 180 grain FMJ. I also grabbed a single box of Winchester 9MM Luger 115 gr. FMJ ammo. This was a 'value pack' with 100 round s in the box. I haven't bought much 9mm ammo over the years, i get most of mine for free from work so I don't know if it was a good price for the value pack at $24.95 but other dealers had the same thing for up to $28.00 and none were less expensive than the guy from whom I made the purchase. The .40S&W went for $$14.95 a box. I have never bought .40S&W as far as I can remember also getting all of it from work. I want to shoot some while out here in Phoenix and I was already told the office out here probably does not have a lot of spare ammo for those of us here on detail - so I broke down and bought my own. Combined with what I brought with me, maybe a box each of .40S&W and 9MM, I now have enough for a short range day. I forgot to pick up ammo for my shotgun - shame on me.

As I was making my way around he ammo table, I was pretty surprised when a young lass of about 12 asked me if I had everything I needed. When I said I did, she took the ammo, scanned it (yes they had a register, a scanner, and a pretty professional set-up), and then I suppose it was her dad who took the cash. She then bagged it up for me, and asked the gentleman if it needed 2 bags, he said yeas and she added the other bag. I am happy she thought of it, I would have hated for the bag to break and then need to be scrambling for rounds everywhere. Very polite people, they said "thank you" a few times after making the sale, a courtesy that is often missing in today's world. They were with the Miwall Corp..

They had a fairly good selection of ammo at that set of tables but they were out of CCI Standard Velocity .22LR rounds. While making my way around the show, I found another pretty big set of ammo tables in one of the other buildings. They had what I wanted and I got a 100 rounds of the CCI .22LR ammo. When I get the chance, I'll see how it shoots in my Henry Survival Rifle. I guess that Miwall Corp has sort of a monopoly on ammo sales at this show, at least they sell most of the ammo, because this other set of tables was also run by the same company. The lady who helped me there could have learned some manners from the girl and gentleman at their other set of tables a 'thank you' did not come out of her pie hole. Well, I had my ammo and that was good enough for me even if she did not display the same courtesy during the sale as did the others.

My last purchase was made for Brendan. I picked up a couple of magazines for his AK. They are 30 round magazines, and according to the guy who sold them to me they are 1970 or 80 era military surplus magazines. I made sure to ask him about this because they have to be pre-ban mags to be legal in NY. NY instituted an 'assault weapons ban' that included high capacity magazines the same time the federal bad was initiated back in the 90s under Clinton. The federal ban has fallen by the wayside but not the ban in NY because there was no sunset provision in it. Now I have to depend upon the honesty and integrity of those from who I buy any high cap magazines because the mags are not marked in any way to indicate anything about time of manufacture or anything else for that matter. I am pretty certain though that they are military surplus because of no markings and I figure the dealer was being honest as to date of manufacture as I don't see why he would not be. If I remember right, we bought some magazines from the same guy when I was in Tucson last spring; Brendan came to visit and we got a chance to go to a gun show in Tucson then. Anyway, this dealer looked very familiar to me. I also am pretty sure it was the same guy because of how he held the bag open for me to put the mags inside, he would not touch them when I went to hand them to him for him to put into the bag; I recall that happening at the earlier gun show in Tucson too - just an eccentricity that wound up being a memory jogger. Don't get me wrong, nice dealer - no complaints from me - especially not about his prices at 2 for $30 and I am pretty sure he had manners enough to say thank you for the sale.

By the time I was done, it was already about 3PM. I got there just before noon, so I spent a bit over three hours there. With the cost of the show added onto the cost of the items I bought, I wound up paying a pretty big premium for them. Of course, the price of admission also allowed me to see all those guns for sale and I suppose it was almost worth it. Again, I have to point out that $14 for a gun show admission fee is extravagant to say the least but I have to admit I enjoyed myself immensely anyhow it was a Gun Show geared toward selling guns after all.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jack Daniels Single Barrel... a nice way to end the day when you feel like a drink after work. I used to drink JD black label (there regular spirits) years ago but I have since matured and mellowed my tastes and now find Irish Whiskey, especially Knappogue Castle Single malt, much more to my liking. That being said and me being in Phoenix, I will add that I haven't had one of my favorites in almost a month now. I simply cannot find it in what pass for liquor stores here in Arizona. These stores have a small to very small liquor selection, a lot of cheap beer and groceries. They are more like a convenience store that sells booze too. I have not been able to find a store specializing in just fine spirits. I am sure they must be here but I don't have a clue as to where to look.

Luckily, I am a Costco member. They have a pretty good selection of liquors and wines. Their selection is better than the 10 or so liquor stores I have visited already. While they did not have Knappogue Castle either, they did have Jack Daniels Single barrel and at a good price. So I picked up a bottle. It ain't bad either. Much more sweet than Irish whisky or even than Scotch, a very oak like taste, with other flavorful input but I'll be darned if I could pick em all out. I don't know if it is worth the extra price over regular Jack D, probably not but it was worth buying just to try it out at least for one bottle's worth.

I'll keep looking for the Knappogue Castle though, it truly is my favorite. If I do not find a source for that, then when the JD runs out, it will be a bottle of Irish of one sort or another. Then again, I may just get another bottle of the Jack Daniels Single Barrel - as I said - it ain't bad!

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gun Show Phoenix

There is a gun show scheduled to be held in Phoenix this coming weekend and I intend to be there on at least one of the days. It is scheduled January 23 (9AM-5PM) & 24 (9AM-4PM) and is to be held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. If you see me there please make sure to say hi and maybe we can shoot the sh... Don't be fooled, I am no longer the handsome young devil in the pic that is tagged to my blog. I now look scruffier, more wrinkled and fatter (although I am sticking to my diet), just look at the new pick to see what I mean.

I won't be able to buy any guns unless I arrange to have them shipped from an FFL here to an FFL back in NY. I think the added expense of that makes a firearms purchase close to impossible. I may pick up some accessories or whatever. Even if I do not buy, I will enjoy looking. Hope to see you there - I'll probably be there on Sunday since I an scheduled to work on Saturday.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Now Back To The Important Things - The Addams' Family TV Series

I joined Netflix last week, and since I have done so I had two DVDs sent to my home for my family to watch. One was star trek, the latest movie. The other was Disk one of the first year of the television series The Addams' Family. I have been downloading the same and watching it on my PC here while away from home in Phoenix. I plan to watch at least the first season here, and probably watch the next two seasons when i get home (only because season 2 and 3 cannot be downloaded and i used my home address for DVD mailings).

As for the show itself, it was and remains the greatest television show that ever graced the boob tube (no degradation intended toward the show). It was advant garde, extremely funny verging on hilarious, and it actually made some pretty good political and social statements. In addition, the characters in the show exhibited the absolute best manners of any show characters i have ever seen. Just listen to the family as they speak to one another. They may have been creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky and all together ookie but them were polite, they did things together as a family (no matter how weird) and while they did not understand with the customs or habits of others they respected them so long as they were decent. They were, in comedy, the all American nuclear family more so than Dick van Dyke and his spawn, more so than Andy, pie and Aunt Bea, more so than Danny Thomas and his clan, more so than the Cartwright's, more so than the Waltons, more so than Steve Urkel's neighbors (I forget the family name), more so than those on the Cosby show, more so than friends and on and on - they were it. Weird for sure, but yet polite, nice, with strong family ties and values and they had other good conservstive values too - heck they were filthy rich because of investments and good business.

Besides all that the show was insanely funny. The only other shows of its time that came close were Get Smart and F Troop. Shows since then like Seinfeld were funny - sure they were but lost something in the way they tolerated everything - especially the lack of family togetherness in the younger characters, in other words none of Jerry's crew were married with kids. Believe me folks no other show came close to the wonderfulness of The Addams' Family - not even The Muntsers.

Well, time to go, I have some shows to catch up on - maybe episodes 5 and 6 tonight before hitting the hay.

All the best,
Glenn B

Brown Wins - Hopefully a Harbinger of Things to Come

It was just announced by Fox news, while I was making my donation to the American Red Cross for Haitian Earthquake relief, that Scott Brown has been projected as the winner in the Massachusetts senatorial race. It was by a virtual landslide considering how much of a Democrat stronghold is MA! (It was also hinted that Martha Coakley is about to concede.)







One can only hope that the elections in November of THIS YEAR go likewise - sending not only a message to the likes of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid but delivering a mandate to them forcing them to surrender to the will of the American People under our Constitution.

All the best,
Glenn B

Haiti, The Earthquake, and Donations

I don't hold the country of Haiti in high regard. I was there in 1996 or maybe it was 1998 for a 30 day work assignment. I was asked to go back a second time but that for only a few days right after my first stay. I was hesitant to do so but did it because it seemed an important assignment, the fate of the first mission (a training mission teaching Haitian law enforcement how to smuggle interdict narcotics coming into and leaving the country. The first mission would continue if a group of diplomats, who dragged me along with them, could convince Haitian government officials that the program was worth it. We did as far as I know convince them. It was probably all for naught as Haiti was the most corrupt country I have ever visited in my limited travels, and this was also the opinion of some others on my team who had traveled world wide and who had been in many other very poor countries. The country was an ecological disaster. It was densely overpopulated, the people were poor, they were under the control of a corrupt and probably somewhat tyrannical government (which was a great improvement over the previous administration there, it was extremely unbalanced in regard to class structure from the ultra rich directly to the dirt poor with virtually no middle class. It was dirty, is stank to the high heavens, the people (at least those with any money) were obviously racists for the great part and disliked American although they made lots of money in the good old US of A. To say it was an utterly wretched shithole full of the scum of the earth would be an understatement.

Yet there was something in the Haitian poor that was almost unfathomable. It was hope. You could see it in the eyes of the school children, those lucky enough to be in school. You could see it in the yes of those who shopped in the markets, or those who sold there. You could see it in the eyes of the guys who carried the individual buckets of water to the wheelbarrows to mix the concrete for construction projects by hand. You could see it in the few beggars who were on the streets (here were very few beggars in evidence). You could see it on the faces of those who were aid workers. You cold see it on the faces of those few of the minute middle class who had jobs and were doing fairly well. You could see it on the faces of the folks standing there in their shanties and illuminated by a single electric light bulb in a bare socket hanging on a wire from a hook on the ceiling. What gave them hope was beyond me - that is unless it was all the handouts they were getting from the rest of the world at the time. They were the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere without a doubt and had little prospect of improvement within that century or this one. I had the thought that the best thing that could have happened to Haiti is that a 90 foot tidal wave would have swept away 75% of its population. I still believe it, that short of a miracle, that would have been the best thing that could befall Haiti and her people. Why? Not because I wished Haiti or Haitians ill but because if the country's population was reduced by about 75% the survivors maybe would stand a chance at a decent life - for example they would have almost enough resources, more employment per capita and so on. Of course, I never wished such on anyone in Haiti, it was just sort of a theory about what possibly would become their salvation, albeit by way of a horrible twisted path to get there.

The earthquake that just hit Haiti is not the same as the disaster that I believed would, in the end, help Haiti. Hundreds of thousands may have been killed and hundreds of thousands may have also been injured. Haiti's infrastructure, what little there was of it, is devastated for the most part. They are, in essence, helpless to help themselves They already were in terrible shape and have been left a hundred times worse off than they were. many countries of the world were helping them, and they probably were much better off than when I was last there, slowly but surely building up, but all of that or almost all of that has now been destroyed and they are back at a place beyond their worst state in the last 40 or 50 years by my guess. A lot of this is due to their own fault. Overpopulation, corruption, greed, raping the environment of the nation were caused, mostly, by Haitians. Then the nations of the world, or at least those of the United Nations (that disaster that should be shut down) stepped in and created the ultimate welfare state. Yes the country was building up but still remained, after about 12 or 14 years since my visit, the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. Why, because the country was now being raped by the UN under the guise of helping them.

Their situation, that of the people of Haiti, is now dire. Even though I feel no affinity for this country, I do feel for the people who are suffering. So why do i feel for them? I may not be religious now, but I was raised as a Catholic - a Christian - and to believe that charity (not welfare) is a good thing. They need help and they need it now. Sure, we are not as well off as we were a few years ago here in the USA, but we are darned sure better off than were Haitians just a few days ago, and are a million times better off than them since the earthquake. With that in mind, I am going to send them a donation as soon as I am done with this post. I ask that you consider doing, no make that I ask that you do send a donation likewise. Mine will go through the Red Cross or some other large organization that helps when a crisis like this hits. The banking crisis, the health care crisis, the economic crisis - they all look like a BB in a boxcar compared this smashing catastrophe in Haiti that resembles the size of the boxcar in comparison. So I urge you to give what you can. Give $1,00 or$50 or $25 or even $5 but give something.

I can only hope that some of the few good Haitian folks whom I met are alive and well. I hope our troops who were stationed there are also well. I also hope and pray for my fellow federal agents who are assigned there (probably mostly DEA agents). While I was there, I stayed at the Hotel Montana in Petionville (suburb of Port Au Prince). I understand it was destroyed; their website says it is closed until further notice. I met quite a few nice people there, some of the ones who I described above, those who showed hope on their faces for the future of their country and their countrymen. I can only hope that the look of hope will be reborn in their eyes after this disaster. With our help, maybe it will and maybe Haitians will be able to rebuild to the point where they will prosper. The road will be long and hard for them and our help at this time will maybe get them going in the right direction.

Edited to add: I donated $50.00. More than some and a lot less han others but I am sure it will help a lot. Please do likewise, give whatever you can afford. Nogt to create a welfafre state mind you but to help those who have almost no way of helpmg themselves in the face of an overwhelming disaster.

All the best,
Glenn B

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe. As he lived, wrote and died, all involving a lot of mystery (he was the first author of the modern detective story), there is a new mystery today this one about a fervent fan. The man or woman, who for each year since 1949 appeared at the Poe gravesite at the midnight hour that marked the start of Poe's birthday and who left behind roses and a bottle of Cognac on each visit, failed to show at the Poe gravesite at the midnight hour this morning. The identity of this person has remained a mystery just as much of Poe's life and death and some of his writing were fraught with mystery. Now this latest mysterious chapter in the history of Poe in that this devout fan did not materialize. If it has truly been one person for all these years, that person is very old now. I wish him or her well and hope that he or she will return next year.

All the best,
Glenn B

This Bullet On Target Because of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

According to an online published report by the NY Daily News and another report I watched on Fox Cable News 01/19/2010), the Trijicon sight manufacturing company of Wixom, MI is placing coded references to bible verses on their gun sights right next to the serial numbers. Reportedly there have been several complaints about this from soldiers and Marines received by Mickey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedon Foundation. (I'd be willing to bet that this organization name should read Oppression instead of Freedom, but that is just my guess.)

I happen to own a pistol with Trijicon sights. I just checked them out. On the right side of the rear sight there are four tiny characters, it looks like H3 08. There are many biblical translations, I chose, pretty much at random that from the New American Standar Bible (as per:

"Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness"

Not having to hard a heart is probably good advice for anyone who carries a weapon.

Now, mind you, my eyes are not what they used to be and I'll have to double check to see that I got the letter and numbers right. If I did, this post will remain unchanged but if I got em wrog then I'll revise chapter and verse later on.

By the way, according to one report, Trijicon has confirmed that these codes are indeed references to bible verses. I'd buy from them again - no problem here. They make good stuff, such as the set of night sights on my Glock 26 and if it is empowered by heavenly light - well good for me.

All the best,
Glenn B

Pick-up Trucks and Hefe Weissbier - Random Thoughts or Not so Random

Had a guy in a white pick-up truck almost run me over yesterday as I was crossing the street. I would have sworn he was stopping for the stop sign but when the grill of the truck was inches from where I would have been had I taken one more step I suddenly realized he was drunk as a skunk and wasn't trying to stop but probably had just hit the brake pedal and thought he already stopped and now was accelerating. He had no clue I was in the street nor did his female passenger, that is until I hollered "whoa"! Man that truck would have put a hurting on me for sure. After that he drove off a block, stopped about 40 feet before a stop sign, went through the intersection, backed back into the intersection, went forward again, turned the truck around, came zig-zagging back, tried to pull into a parking garage and did not make it on the first try or two, then disappeared into the garage. That happened when I was out for a walk for exercise. I took a nice 3 1/4 mile stroll through downtown Phoenix to a not so nice area and back toward my apartment.

Of course, having been almost run over put me in the mood so I stopped for a bier before going back to my apartment. At the bar, only a few blocks from my apartment, I decided to have a Franziskaner Hefe Wesssbier. What a treat to find a bar in Phoenix serving genuine German Hefe Weissbier. The barmaid, a lass of about 22-24 years old by my estimation, asked me if I wanted a glass. I said yes and she produced a glass that held every last drop in the bottle perfectly with just the right amount of head. As I poured she commented, and seemed quite surprised when doing so, that I knew how to pour that type of beer properly. I was rather surprised she knew how to properly pour one - barmaid or not. I did not tell her that. What I told her was that I had been drinking it for about the last 25 years. Somehow that got me to thinking and I realized that I had legally been drinking Hefe Weissbier for 36 years and a few months now. No that does not make me 57 plus - back in the day the legal age was only 18 not 21. I was probably drinking them for at least a year or two before that. Wow, I am getting old but I did not mention that to the barmaid - she already thought I was old enough to be considered an old man when I told he I had been enjoying them for only 25 years.

You know what though, I don't mind be as old as I am, in fact it isn't bad at all and I prefer and hope to live even longer - a good deal longer to enjoy those biers. I'll just have to keep my eyes open for drunks in pick-up trucks.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Met Some Other Shooters/Bloggers Today...

...and that made for a rather nice ending to an otherwise mediocre weekend. Despite having a 4 day weekend, I did not get to go out and do a whole lot. We have been severely restricted in how far we can drive our assigned vehicles, this as opposed to the assignment I had in Tucson over the spring and early summer. So I was pretty much grounded in the Phoenix area. I made my way around a bit, went out for a few drinks on Friday night, but by myself as I seem to have lost contact with my group this weekend, got shopping done, got laundry done and other stuff like that.

I did end it all up rather nicely though. I got to meet Cap'n Bob and the Damsel. They would be Bob and Verna. Bob writes a blog by that name, see here. They were visiting in the AZ area from California. When we realized I would be out here and they would be here in the area at the same time, we decided to try to get together for lunch or dinner. As it turned out they were nearby today, so we planned for lunch. I don't think any of us exactly enjoyed the food, we ate at some fast food Mexican place, but In have to say the company was great. I have always enjoyed Bob's writing on the blog, and as I have come to discover Verna's pictures of flowers that they post there. Of course, we also blog about a mutual interest - guns. We talked about this and that today, family, our dogs and other pets, shooting and on and on for what I will guess was maybe an hour or hour and a half. I was quite happy that we met, they are the first two bloggers i have met in person, and they are very nice people at that. I hope I will be lucky enough to see them again someday, maybe we will have the opportunity to go to a range together. That would be great. Truly two very nice folks.

To see a pic of the three of us together go here. To see Bob's other blog, go to The Wandering Minstrel.

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Anti-Christ Revealed? I Report - You Decide

Scary stuff but still and intriguing video. Why scary? Well, I suppose you could look at it from the point of view that if this stuff about the Hebrew wording is correct, then it was either just an amazing coincidence which should not be scary but is interesting. Then again maybe it was an absolute religious fanatic or kook who dug up all that stuff to rile up the religious extremists which should be scary, or maybe it is the real deal which should be scariest of all. Of course, it also could be that super seeKrit Right Wing Conspiracy the Clintons first told us about. I tend to think it is, if all the stuff about the language is correct, just a coincidence but as the man says - "I report, you decide".

Certainly, if nothing else, it is the stuff of which scary books and movies are made.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Training Day and I Got Lit Up... in shot but that is okay because I got the drop on em first. We had a Simunitions training day today covering different sorts of entries. I will not go into the details, cannot go into the details, but can say it was a good learning experience. As a matter of fact, I am hopeful that not only the 'students' got something out of it today but that the instructors did so too. You see, at the end of the day the instructors decided to show us how they would clear one of the same training houses we had worked on today. I immediately volunteered to be an armed roll player. Some of them remembered me from last time I was here and they should have immediately guessed I had something up my sleeve; heck just my volunteering as fast as I did should have given it away. When they almost decided to do it as an unarmed role play my heart was heavy. When they again announced it would be with Simunitions I was perked up again. This was not because I wanted to make someone go ouch, but rather because if my nefarious plan worked then I would, as a bad guy, impart something to some one that could help them survive a similar real life scenario. The sting of a Simunitions round makes for a very definitive and positive learning experience that one does not soon forget when you remember it could have been a real bad guy with a real live round.

Well anyway, they did their entry, and they were clearing the rooms as they would normally do, and I opened up on one of them with at least three shots from a Sig 229 with Simunitions - all three were hits. I am not going to tell you where I was hiding, if only because I don't ever want to be surprised, or have another officer surprised, by someone in that same spot (although I always check that spot myself) because I gave out the info on it. What I can say is this: After I shot the agent three times, I heard him yell out:

"Shit - there is one in the -----" (not even the correct number of dashes was just given to match the number of letters in the word, or was it the correct amount). At that point, I was discovered and I was shot at least 5 and maybe 6 times with Simunitions. One got me in the knuckle of the right index finger and I will readily admit it smarted, another got a knuckle on my left hand, a few hit protected areas. I think the instructors were somewhat surprised by my hiding spot, one even tried to say no one would ever have time to hide thee is a raid was underway, but I beg to differ having once found a guy in the very same spot. Not common to be sued as a hiding spot but definitely a spot that needs to be checked.

I was not trying to be a wise ass, although I'll admit I knew I was going beyond the norm in my selection of spots. I was trying to make this a learning experience for all involved, though to tell the truth I thought for sure I would be found out before I could shoot. The reason I figured I would be found out before being able to shoot was because as a roll player I had to do a 2 one thousand count (okay to shoot after 2 one thousand) with someone in my sights, who was unaware of me, before I could shoot. Heck I went all the way to 3 one thousand before shooting. I just thought for sure someone would see me before then. Why the time? After all this was a training exercise not the real deal and the goal is to get LEOs to learn not to just bushwhack them. Despite and extra one one thousand count though, I got off at least three, maybe 4 shots before I was shot several times, yanked from my hiding spot (with more force than I think was supposed to have been used - but folks do get fired up even when shot with only Simunitions) and brought to the floor pretty hard.

I know that from now on I am a marked man at any future training sessions with these same guys. That is okay by me if even one person learned anything from what I did, where I hid, and how I got the drop on at least one of the good guys in the exercise. If anyone learned a lesson today from it, it may just go to save that person's life somewhere down the road. Never go in thinking you know it all, or like it is routine, or even like it is just an exercise cause if you do, you are sure to be bitten in the ass or worse.

The only other thing I would say about the Simunitions is that when those rounds hit bare flesh they sure can sting. Ouch my aching knuckles.

Great group of folks, great team members, great instructors, great training, all in all an excellent day.

The only possible downside to the whole day is that my team is on call until much later tonight. Sort of ruins what amounts to our Friday night, but this is a long weekend so we will have plenty of time for fun,

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On The Passing of a Friend Whom I Never Met

It is amazing, at least to me, how much one person can become connected to another even though neither has ever met the other in person. It happens when people connect with one another over distances such as Pen-Pals in days of old, and by way of the Internet today. I never met Clay Bond, I did not even know his name until today. I knew him only as The Right Wing Professor of Right Wing Nation, and as of late by way of his blog Central Pennsylvania Orthodox. His last post, Glorious Nativity, was on December 26. He passed from this earth on January 7 a victim of cancer. Hopefully his blogs will remain in place for some time to come so others can enjoy his wit, his insight, his politics, his love of sports, his support for our troops and love of country, his outlook on the big and little things in life and on life itself, and the courage with which he faced impending and certain death and told us the details. If the comments sections of his blogs, and his link list (see the link list he had on his Right Wing nation blog) are any indication, then he was affected by and affected a very large number of people though his Internet connections. He was, as an old time saying goes: A Man Among Men and an honorable one at that.

I would have liked to have met him in person, he lived in Pennsylvania, it could have been a day trip to meet at a range, or maybe for a coffee or a beer somewhere. I guess that opportunity is lost to me. If you get such an opportunity, to meet someone you want to meet, jump at it or face the prospect of waking up one day and finding out it is too late. He will be missed.

My condolences to his family, loved ones and friends.

All the best,
Glenn B

Phoenix - 2nd Impressions - Getting Better

Well, I stand by my first impressions of the City of Phoenix at least with regard to it not having what I would consider a centralized heart of the city kind of a thing. It makes for a sterile or cold feeling (even though the temps have been quite warm compared to what I am used to in January). That may all be because I am used to the hustle and bustle of more densely populated areas, or maybe because Phoenix is really spread out even where sort of centralized.

I also stand by my assessment of some of the drivers in the state of AZ. It seems there are a group of them who go out of their way to be jerks and who instead of giving other drivers a break try to screw them. The amount of drivers like that seems inordinate compared to all the rest of the drivers here and in other places where I have driven - even NYC.

So what is there on which to dwell any further in my assessment of this city. Well, there is the people of Phoenix and the surrounding areas. The cultural mix is one made up mostly of Western Europeans, Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans. So far, my dealings with almost anyone I have met have been pleasant. People I have dealt with in businesses such as restaurants, supermarkets, other retail stores are all pretty polite or have been so to me. That does a good amount to make up for the small group of psycho drivers (and they are a small group compared to all of the drivers here, just rather large when compared to their own kind elsewhere) and to make up for the lack of a soul of the city caused by all of the urban sprawl without any apparent (or very few apparent) neighborhood centers (other than shopping centers or malls).

Some of the places to which I have been to date should get some special recognition for one thing or another. I wish I could remember all of the names of the restaurants in which I have eaten but I don't. I'll take better care I the future so I can report on them here. I will mention a couple of bars I have visited. As usual, they are often the warmest places one can visit when in a city that is foreign to the traveler; they can also be the harshest of places to visit. Lucky for me, the former was the case with each I have enjoyed to date.

I highly recommend The Turf Restaurant & Pub on 1st Street in the downtown area (or maybe its on the edge of the down town area). It is run, if I got it right, by an Irish American gentleman. They have a pretty good selection of beers, ales and ciders, and a good selection of hard liquor. They have more scotches and Irish Whiskeys than you normally see at 5 bars combined but alas no Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey (my favorite hard spirit). When I asked about it the bartender wrote down the name of it to ask the owner if he could get it. That would be a treat for me as I am trying to keep beer, ales and ciders to a minimum now that I have started a diet. Whiskey does not contain any carbohydrates, it can go well with dieting so long as you do not drink to excess thereby losing your inhibitions and then stuffing yourself with bar food. As far as their food goes, I have not tried it yet. I am working late and think the kitchen has been closed when I have arrived there. So far the best bartender I have met in Phoenix works at this place, a hat tip to Aaron - he pours decent to excellent pint of Guinness although I'd rather be, and had been, drinking the Magner's Cider or the Franziskaner Hefe Weisse Bier (but alas the diet so it has to be limited from now on and whiskey may be the required spirit for the duration with a break now and then for a pint of something heavier).

I also hit up another Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub & Restaurant, this one in central downtown on Monroe Street. I paid more attention to the Scotch selection in this bar and think they may have the edge over The Turf, that even though I was told they are owned by the same publican. It too has a restaurant which I did not yet have the chance to enjoy, and also had a good selection of beers, ales, ciders and harder spirits. Looks like a good place to spend part of a Friday night, so long as the other part is spent at The Turf .

As far as eating out goes, I did some so far but have been eating my own cooking too. for the My own cooking has consisted of things like a pork roast & chicken thigh combo with 3 or 4 different kinds of onions, 3 different kinds of mini-potatoes (including one with black skin and purple flesh) and a few seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon powder) all slow roasted in a pot (or should I say stewed). Mmmmm - good. Like I said, as far as restaurants go, I cannot remember the names, but I will post about them when they do come to mind or after I visit them again and remember to ask for a business card from each. So far the best by far has been a Vietnamese Restaurant where some coworkers and I enjoyed for lunch one day. Funny, I work in and live close to NYC with its wide variety of restaurants and do not remember ever eating in a Vietnamese restaurant before despite always having meant to do so. I'll tell you more about my experience there when i get the name of the place. Pretty much good news on a Thai restaurant in which we had lunch; a good experience in both.

Next weekend, I will probably do another review of bars and restaurants that I visit during the upcoming week and tell you more about the feel I have developed for the city of Phoenix. I also hope to get out and about to some other not too distant berg and the local countryside to see what I can see, enjoy what I can enjoy, and just get to know more of what I can get to know. Once I know about it, I;ll let you know too. Hopefully I'll find a nice Hofbrau Haus to tell you all about.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shock and Awe - Part 2...

...or is it just going to be shock. The White House is telling us that there is an imminent announcement to be made that will shock all Americans concerning the attempted Christmas Day bombing of the Northwest Airline's flight From Nigeria-Amsterdam to Detroit. Well, not much would shock me on the subject although I will admit a few shocking possibilities do come to mind:

For example, I would be shocked to hear:

The president say that a U.S. Government official was complicit in the bombing attempt and then actually have real unadulterated evidence to back-up his allegations.

That the government is going to profile Islamic men and women from now on in order to safeguard Americans.

That the U.S. will go full force in the Global War on Terrorism (heck even that they admit there is such a thing would be amazing).

I would also be shocked to learn that Janet Napolitano has resigned because of admitted incompetence.

Furthermore I would be shocked to learn that Attorney General Eric Holder has also admitted that he is incompetent and has resigned.

That the National Security Advisor James Jones has stepped down because of admitted incompetence.

In addition, I would be shocked to learn that President Obama has admitted that all or anyone, of the above are/is incompetent (least shocking would be for him to oust Napalitano).

About the only other thing that would shock me would be if President Obama announces that he is going to retire because he is incompetent and note I am not commenting on whether or not I believe him incompetent but as to whether or not he will admit it and then retire.

Things that would not shock me would be:

I would not be shocked to learn:

That a U.S. Government official, foreign government official, or airline employee has been thrown to the wolves as a scapegoat based on trumped up charges.

That gross incompetence on the part of a government employee, his boss, that bosses superiors, all the way up the chain caused this screw up and led to this terrorist being allowed to fly (but it would shock me to hear the president actually admit this, especially the part about incompetence going to the top).

That a few other terrorists had been arrested on the same day before being allowed to board other flights to the USA.

That the guy was loaded with the Ebola virus and now has infected others in the U.S..

That Nancy Pelosi blames George W. Bush for this.

That the Republicans blame the Democrats or that the Democrats blame the Republicans.

That the terrorist got the explosives on the aircraft and did not bring them on with him.

That passengers will have to go through a full strip search and body cavity search each and every time they fly.

That the presidential administration says the terrorist was innocent and that the guy who prevented him from blowing up the plane was the real bad guy in the administration's viewpoint.

Of course, there are lots of other possibilities that would not shock me. I suppose there also are a couple of other things that might shock me. One would be that Osama bin Laden has turned himself in because this last event made him feel awful. No I was just wrong, there are not a couple of other things that come to mind that would shock me, just that one last thing completed the list but it ain't gonna happen.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Phoenix - First Impressions This Trip

I've been here in Phoenix for a week now. I have been here before too, at least4 or 5 other times. Each time I visit, I gt the same feeling - I much prefer Tucson. Phoenix is a pretty big city. It has a big downtown area that is surrounded by a lot of urban sprawl. Despite all of the sprawl, and all of the cars in the parking lots all around town, which would mean there are a lot of people here, downtown often gives the impression, at least to me, of a large post-apocalyptic wasteland city. I find it cold and lacking soul, and I guess that is best evidenced in the fact that you rarely see anyone walking on the streets. Even in the middle of a business day, when the streets of cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Washington DC would be thronged with people both people who work in them and who are visiting them) the streets of Phoenix are pretty much empty - soulless. Of course there are a few folks out and about. I would estimate that about 75% of the handful I have seen each day are driving. Mind you, even though the percentage I just mentioned seems a high one it is only in relation to the few people who are actually out and about. There is no traffic within the downtown area of Phoenix after 0900. Heck, there is not much during the traditional rush hour either. As for the other 25% of the folks I see who are on the streets of Phoenix during a work day, well let me just say that about 80% of that 25% are less than desirable. Oh let me just say it - to me they look like bums, indigents, homeless dirtbags. They are what they are. Phoenix seems overrun by homeless at least when you compare the number that you see of them to the number of regular working folks you see out and about.

Of course, and what else would you expect, the apartment complex that my government employer has forced me to reside in for my 3 month stay in Phoenix is on the edge of downtown and right smack in the middle of an area that seems to be overrun by homeless or at least by bums ad dirtbags. I am kind of surprised that no one has tried to break into my ground floor apartment as of yet. If the do try while I am inside of it - well then - they will get a surprise. If they do try while I am at work, then they will not find much. I have already been approached by a few looking for handouts. I have see one guy, in virtual rags, walk into the outside smoking or patio area of a bar/restaurant and start scrounging on tables at which people were sitting. Not one person at those tables said a word to him. Had he walked up to my table and put his filthy gloved hands on my food, there would have been one heck of a commotion is I will say.

The other thing that bugs me about Phoenix, is that despite having a large downtown area, and despite having a university or three, there are no truly well defined areas that cater to drinkers and diners. Everything is spread out and everything or almost everything seems to be set helter-skelter as if mushrooms popping up in damp doody that was excreted at random intervals in the woods. What can I say, not a pretty picture but it is the way it seems to me. What I mean is this - there is no theater district, no restaurant row, no area with a lot of bars within a few blocks, and so forth - at least none that I have encountered within the past week. Yeah, there is an area on the east side of downtown where there are a few to several bars. I walked over there on new year's Eve. Two bars looked packed to the rafters. About three others I saw had a grand total of about 30 patrons betwixt them. Folks, this was at about 0:30 to 11:00PM - a time when the partiers and revelers should have been out in force. Where are all the people of phoenix. Why does walking the streets of Phoenix at night, or even at mid-day, give me the feeling I am in a city in which the zombies have already eaten the great majority of he population, so much so that they have moved on to other feeding grounds because the pickings here are too slim?

My assessment of Phoenix may not make me any friends among they who live and or work here, but that is the impression I get. I would really rather be in Tucson. At least in Tucson, there are areas that seem devoted to certain themes. For example there are one or two antiques areas with many antiques stores, if not within a short walk of each other at least within a short drive of one another. There is a university area that looks as if there is a university with some off campus life around it. For example there are many restaurants and bars near the university along with a few clothing boutiques, coffee shops, and bookstores. While much of Tucson is spread out - there are islands or clusters of businesses that seem geared toward a particular theme for the area in which they exist. I don't just mean at malls either, hell there are lots of malls in Tucson as well as in Phoenix. I tend to shun them when looking for place to enjoy my day, preferring areas where I can take a walk outside. What Tucson has that Phoenix seems to lack are neighborhood centers of activity.

Now mind you, there are some areas like this near Phoenix. For example there is Tempe. Wow!. What a nice little town. It is not as sprawling as either Tucson or Phoenix, is much smaller in size and population than either I would imagine, but it offers much more than Phoenix seems to offer with regard to nice little shops, restaurants and bars all centrally located. I was there a couple of days ago, I think on Sunday, and there were literally thousands of people out and walking about. Obviously there was some special event taking place, but folks I was in downtown Phoenix and the surround areas on another night of a special event, New year's Eve, and Phoenix seemed like a ghost town at best. Thankfully Phoenix has a rapid transit system with rail service to Tempe. I will be using it on my weekends.

Now to be fair, I have been here only a week - so this is sort of my first impression. I say sort of because as I mentioned earlier on in this piece, I have been here before. It is virtually the same impression I get each time I visit. I can understand that in the heat of the summer, no one wants to be out and about. The thing is though, right now it has been in the 60s and 70s each day. The weather has been perfect. Perfect for what? Well for getting out and walking in the streets of what other that its apparent empty feeling is a fine looking and pretty amazingly clean city. The buildings are nice, if you like big city buildings with a modern flair, and I do. The streets are clean, no trash swirling in the breeze, no aromatic sewers, no wafting of the odor of doggie doody, no honking of horns from a madhouse of congested streets, but I have to say that does not make up for the soulless feeling I get here when I go for a walk here. It is, as far as the feel of the city itself goes, simply one of the coldest, most heartless cities I have ever visited.

Now mind you, don't get all riled up if you are a Phoenician (as I see you call yourselves). Most of the folks I have met here are just that - folks. They are, in other words, nice - regular - people. Most of them have been polite, well the ones i have met in person. Those on the road, driving in other cars, well quite a few of them have been dickheads. No other way to describe them except to say that they have no road courtesy, blow there horns for the least little annoyance, cut you off incessantly, tailgate as if they were fleeing the hordes of hades who are hot on their tails, and are pretty much discourteous drivers. That they do not show much courtesy while driving here is evidenced not so much even by their bad driving habits but more so even through their lack of appropriate response to road courtesies that other drivers give to them. When in a line of traffic, say stopped at a light, when the light turns green and traffic ahead of me starts to move, I have, several times already, allowed (or tried to allow)people who are attempting to enter the road from parking lot driveways to do so in front of me. I have sat there, a few times now, for up to 30 seconds, waiting for the other driver to enter the roadway and they sit there looking back at me like I am a nut waiting to broadside them once they enter the road. I have even waved several of them on, one guy waved back indicating he would not go. As soon as I went he screeched his wheels leaving the lot. This happens on the highway too while in traffic. Someone is in the next lane with directional signal on and indicating they want to move into my lane. i give them space, plenty of space, and as they look into their mirrors I signal they can change lanes. They do not, but once I close the gap, after having given them ample opportunity to change lanes, it is then that some of the try to squeeze in. That is not just me folks, I have seen it happen other drivers who were trying to be courteous. As for driving in traffic I have never, not in all my life, seen worse drivers in heavy traffic with the possible exception of those on the LA freeways or in Port Au Prince, Haiti. I suppose the worst infraction of driving courtesy though is tailgating when on the highway at highway speeds. This seems to be a statewide phenomenon though and not just a problem in Phoenix. Even drivers in new York city are more courteous on the roads and that even goes for NYC Yellow Cab drivers!

To me it seems the drivers in this state, especially in the larger cities, are very angry for some reason. Horn honking for any minor inconvenience is a frequent occurrence. For instance, I was making a left turn from a center lane, a turning lane. About 4 to 6 inches of my right rear bumper was still in the left lane. I had come upon the street on which I needed to turn and only realized it was the street at the last moment. Now despite the fact that the left lane, into which my bumper protruded, was rather a wide lane, a guy coming along behind me decided he had to swerve over toward my car and honk, keep honking as he passed me, then open his window and flip me the bird. It made me think maybe, just maybe he recognized me from some previous encounter or maybe as a Republican. No, the world is not that small a place, it was just a Phoenix driver being a peckerwood. This has happened three times so far. No I did not do the same thing each time. One other time I was entering a driveway of a gas station and had to stop partly still out in the street because the driver in front of me seemed dazed, confused, and not sure of where to pull up to get gas. Despite the fact that there were three lanes, empty lanes at that, on the side of the road from which I was exiting the roadway, the only other driver within sight had to swerve at me and blast his horn like a madman. The other incident was when I was entering the roadway from a driveway. I was not even out in the road, and a nut came racing up honking as if he expected me, or maybe was daring me, to drive out in front of him. He slowed as he passed me to almost a crawl. What is wrong with people liken that, and why does it seem to happen here so often. Others here on the same assignment as am I have also commented on the nutty and discourteous drivers here. I just do not get it. For the most part there is no traffic, except during the absolute height of rush hour, yet the drivers here act as if they are under the constant strain of heavy traffic and bad driving habits of others when such just could not possibly the the case. They just seem full of a wild eyed and frenzied rage that I simply do not understand if for no other reason that there seems to be no cause for it. I would think that the lack of traffic here at most times would make for happy drivers but somehow it seems to have had the reverse effect. I will admit, driving was much the same in Tucson. I will also admit, that it may be much more congested, and there may be a lot of lousy drivers, in New York City but must also point out there is a lot more common courtesy on the roads up that way and a lot less road rage when considering it all percentage wise or so it seems to me.

Oh well, those are over the course of my upcoming weekend, a better impression will be left upon me. Again, don't take me wrong, I still like it here despite those less than wonderful things I mentioned above, and I find the folks i have met to be courteous and nice and the city itself to be beautiful and clean (at least downtown) but there are some rather perplexing things that made there mark on me and led to the impressions I have had so far.

All the best,
Glenn B