Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vacation


     Had a well-deserved week off.
    
     Besides catching up with various chores and running around doing useful and/or entertaining errands, we took a couple of days and went down to the lakehouse to see Barrett and the kids (notice how he gets first billing?).

     All too often we take a vacation and fail to enjoy it. Having grandchildren eliminates that possibility. Besides, you can always learn from example - the boy clearly knows how to relax:


     Normal Life, work, gunblogging and other traditional activities will resume shortly.

     But right now, I'm good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back from the Gunshow...

     Not much luck. And I had forgotten about one aspect of these shows, at least at this location: clogged aisles. The tables are set just barely far enough apart for people to browse on either side, and allow folks to squeeze between them down the middle. Theoretically.
     In actuality, you have several hundred overweight Bubbas with backpacks and their Daddy's old deer gun on their shoulder. Throw in some old men with canes and a few couples pushing baby carriages, and you spend more time dodging, waiting for people to move, and saying, "Excuse me", than you do gun-browsing.
     Don't get me wrong - I think Bubbas with deer guns, old men with canes, and baby carriages are wonderful. But when I'm trying to get close enough to that Smith on the table to see if it's a Model 10 or a 13, somebody needs to make a hole.

     Otherwise, it was standard fare. Lots of black rifles and black plastic guns. The ubiquitous pepper spray, stun guns, beef jerky, t-shirts, tacky stamped-steel swords and knives, bumper stickers and signs ("Beware of Dog: He Gets to Eat What I Shoot"), etc.

     Some things I noticed:
     - If it's old looking, and you want people to think it's worth a lot, put it in a glass case. A beat up $100 derringer in a closed box with a couple of old pocket knives and a black-and-white picture of your grandaddy automatically quadruples in price.
     - Everyone ignores the signs that say, "Please ask before handling".
     - This problem is compounded when an item says, "Not for Sale - Do Not Touch".
     - The guy selling the Super-Duper Apocalyptic Survival Kit doesn't look like he could hump a gallon of water across the room without having a stroke.
     - And just how many Mosin-Nagants did they make, anyway? Jeez.

     Ultimately, I found one item that interested me enough to talk to the dealer about. A Ruger Model 44 carbine. It has the same look and lines as a 10/22, but chambers a .44 Magnum cartridge from a tube magazine. I don't know why I like this gun so much. It's just a neat, light, well-balanced carbine in a knock-you-on-your-butt pistol caliber. They are primarily considered deer guns, especially in short range brush-gun situations. I think it'd make a hell of a hog gun. Mainly, I just like it.
     But not enough to pay what he was asking.
     When I asked to see it, he immediately started telling me about how he had mowed lawns as a kid all summer at a dollar a yard to save up for this gun. Considering he was no spring chicken, and the Model 44 was first introduced in the early 60's, my BS meter was pegged right up there with my annoyance level.
     I finally got him down to business, and we quickly reached an impasse. He would go no lower, I would go no higher, and about 50 bucks separated the two valuations.
     So be it. I dropped by the fine folks at Georgia Arms, stocked up on fodder for my existing inventory, and called it a day.

     Well, almost. Blue Steel over at Point Blank Range mentioned in his Moby Dick post (cool pic, by the way...) that gun shows are great places to meet family and friends. On my way out, I ran into an old best friend and shooting buddy (who I've actually mentioned before) that I hadn't seen in way, way too long. He was accompanied by his much better half, who apparently has been bitten badly by the SASS bug. We caught up with each other for a good half-hour, and made plans to get together, and maybe get back out to the range one afternoon. About then his lovelier half mentioned that we needed to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.

     Seems we were clogging the aisle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gun Show this Weekend.

     I don't have a particular shopping agenda for this one. That makes me both more flexible and less focused, which may be a dangerous combination.
     I'll take the usual items: money, borelight, magnifier, faint glimmer of fiscal responsibility, etc... I'll try to remember my C&R bound book this time, in case there's some old fellow with a pristine 1903A3 for $300.
     Right.
     And that's the delusion - that somehow the huge volume of product we see at a gunshow will lead to incredible bargains. Wrong. This ain't Walmart. This is a conglomerate of individuals and small businesses, all of whom are running on a thin margin, and hoping the volume of customers will work to their advantage.
     No, the fun of the gunshow is in the wonderful variety of pick-up-and-fondle firearms available. See something that interests you? Ask politely, then hold it, cradle it, feel the weight, the balance. Price almost fair? Negotiate a bit. Wave green cash. Be fair and reasonable yourself. If you're really serious, inspect.
     Be careful about breaking out the borelight and magnifying glass, though. That says, "fish on the hook" to the dealer. I have been known to do a thorough inspection, negotiate price, and end up saying no. This is where being a gentleman helps. I always explain my reasoning, and thank the vendor for the time he or she has taken with me. Most of the time the parting of ways is amicable.
     Sometimes, of course, I walk away with the gun. Six months later, I'm always happy with the gun, and if I even remember what it cost, I usually don't care.

     So we'll see how it goes. If all else fails, I'll pick up a can or two of ammo at the Georgia Arms booth (nice people, good ammo, decent prices).
     There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday.

    

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So there I was...

...watching President Obama on "Mythbusters."

     "Mr. President, we've changed our mind about the Archimedes thing. Just climb up here with Kari. Yes, sir, right there."
     "Now what we have here, sir, is a Dillon Aero vehicle-mounted minigun, and about a million or so rounds of ammo. We decided that that little tree in the other episode wasn't much of a challenge, and we want to see how many of these telephone poles you can take down in 15 minutes."

(15 minutes later...)

     "Sir, are you OK?"
     "Yees, whaasa madda wis my moooth?"
     "Oh. That's just what we call a shit-eating grin, sir. It'll come back down from your ears in a minute. Fun, wasn't it?"
     "Yees!"
     "So do you understand now, Mr. President?"
     "?"
     "About shooting. I mean, self-defense is obviously a basic human right, right?"
     "Well, yeah..."
     "And hunting is simply part of who we are as a natural biological entity, right?"
     "Uh, OK."
     "But you understand now that sometimes shooting guns is just all about shits and giggles, right?"
     "You know what, you are right! I've been so foolish! Let's have free access to firearms at the Federal level!"
     "We already have that, sir, it's called the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights."
     "Oh, yeah. Well, CCW for everyone, no more bans on meaningless gun parts, and no more restrictions on suppressors and full auto. In fact, get these Dillon people on the phone - I got to get me one of these!"

...and then I woke up.


    

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Life in the Lab

     From another patient information form:

     Reason for Hospitalization: "Blunt force trauma to head."
     Date of Hospitalization: "I don't remember."

     Fair enough...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Federal Catch-22?

     Many of you reading this have purchased a firearm or two at some point, and so are familiar with Form 4473. For those who might be unfamiliar, this is where you tell the government (specifically the BATFE) exactly who you are, what you are, and where you are. Then you answer a series of questions with perfect and complete honesty about whether or not you are a notorious criminal or other dangerous or unsavory person.

     Ex: "Are you a fugitive from justice?"
           "Why, yes, actually. See contact information above for current whereabouts."

     The idea, presumably, is that in addition to being prosecuted for gunning down a casino full of nuns, you could also be charged with lying on your 4473.

     I was thinking recently about one of the questions which asks (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here), "Are you a member of any organization which seeks to overthrow the government of the United States by force?"
     Well, no.
     Because when I see that question I think Al Qaeda sleeper cell, or the Mahmoud Ahmadinijad Fan Club. But those of us who follow the discussions surrounding the 2nd Amendment have repeatedly read that the purpose of the amendment, the reason for an armed citizenry, is for that very reason.
     So has the federal government imposed upon us the ultimate Catch-22? Has the government, in the form of the BATFE, set up a situation where they may safely impose tyranny upon a populace legally helpless to purchase the means to defeat them?

     Actually, no.
 
     Those who may feel this way are probably thinking of the statement by the founding fathers that if a government becomes too destructive, then "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government".
     Well and good, except that I have seen some refer to that principle as a constitutional right. That statement does not appear in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and therefore is not a principle of law (actual lawyers , let me know if I'm wrong here).
     It is, in fact, from the Declaration of Independence , and that whole paragraph should be read to put the statement in perspective. Even in the context of this declaration, which is to enumerate the oppressions inflicted upon the colonies by England, and to therefore justify our lawful separation from their rule, the founders were careful to qualify this sentiment. The following sentence in fact states: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes..."
       So short of a political situation comparable to that of the American Revolution, that's not what we're talking about.
    
     And what about the 2nd Amendment? Well, what the 2nd Amendment does is provide a means for armed resistance should our government decide to overthrow us. In short, it acknowledges our right to defense - not offense. Big difference.
     Unhappy with our government? Aren't we all. So do what we are all doing - rally, go to meetings, speak out, and vote. The current anti-incumbent sentiment and nationwide anti-political mood in general has politicians almost as scared as if they actually did have a gun to their head.
     That's how it's done. Not by gathering ten of your best highly trained "operator" friends and storming the Capitol. That just gets you and your bereaved families on the news, and makes it harder on the rest of us gun nuts the next time the definition of "militia" gets debated.

     So on your next 4473, don't try to get all pseudo-constitutional and check that box with a "yes". Just take your gun home, go out and shoot it, and be grateful that you were able to answer another question on the form:

     "Are you an American citizen?"

     Yes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coming up for air...

     The afore-mentioned Monster Hunter Vendetta is proving to be at least as awesome as I imagined.
     I only have one question about what I've read so far:

     Vanilla Cokes, Larry? Seriously?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yippee!

     My pre-ordered copy of Monster Hunter Vendetta arrived today! Thank you Larry!


     Something tells me I won't be getting much sleep this weekend...

Why can't we all just get a bong?

     I caught a bit on the news the other night regarding the (likely) impending legalization of marijuana in the state of California. It seems that one of the groups opposed to this measure are... brewers.
     Yep. And their rationale is that pot smoking represents a significant public health hazard. The rebuttal from the marijuana camp is, of course, that alcohol is a far more harmful drug to individuals and society in general than pot will ever be. No really, dude. Like, seriously.
     And this is actually true, but does not address the specific claim by the brewers. They're not saying that pot is physically worse for you than alcohol, they're saying that if pot is legal, then employers can't drug-screen for it anymore, and we'll all be run off the roads by drug-crazed truckers or somesuch.
     Bullhockey. Everywhere I have worked, any on-the-job moving equipment accident of any degree got you mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Depending on what showed up, you were either fired, or fired and arrested. And really, from a law enforcement standpoint, driving impaired is a big no-no whether the departure from sobriety is a beer, a joint or an iPhone.
     Since the brewer's argument doesn't seem to hold up, this is being painted as a matter of competition. Competition? Since when have pot and beer been an either-or situation? Did these people not go to high school or college? Is "cottonmouth" just a snake to them?
     California's take on this is perfectly pragmatic: make marijuana legal, then regulate it (i.e.: tax the hell out of it). In a state where the marijuana bud is the state flower, and where the state's budget is being shored up by selling autographed copies of "Hercules in New York" on eBay, this makes sense.
     My take? I'm one of those libertarian-types. If you're not hurting anyone, I say you should be left alone. I'm personally agnostic on the pot issue - I was the guy in high school who hung out with the stoners, but passed the joint on to the next guy and drank my beer. I will say that none of those guys ever got violent or belligerent. Silly, yes, but not belligerent. And they were the ones listening to Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and reading Siddhartha and Stranger in a Strange Land.
     Alcohol, on the other hand, is another story. I love beer, consider myself a beer "snob", and was a homebrewer for a while. But when you start getting sloppy drunk and beating your babymomma in front of the kids, it's time to back off. Or smoke a joint.
     The late, great Bill Hicks had a routine where he said pot should not just be legal, but mandatory.   "HONK! HONK!**roadrage**HONK! HONK!".
     "Here, take this": (puff, puff).
     "Oh, man, sorry, dude. Must have been taking myself seriously for a moment..."
     So what's the deal with the brewers? I honestly have no idea. For what it's worth, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has gone on the record saying that they are not part of the stonewalling affort. Good on them. I consider their pale ale kind of a standard for a good micro/commercial pale ale. Not quite hoppy enough to be an IPA, but enough to make you smack your lips and say "Yum".
     So you want to look out your back door at all the happy creatures playing on the lawn? Fine, let the brewers stick to what they do best and make you something cool and tasty to wet your throat while you do.
     To each their own. And sometimes, "D - All of the above", is a perfectly acceptable answer.