Monday, September 27, 2010

Rant: Anti-gun Moonbats

I rarely argue with anti-freedom Moonbats any more. For one thing logic is refuted with emotionally charged half-truths, unique anecdotes and so called 'common sense' that everyone should possess.  For another I'm not good at shouting matches, and these arguments are most often settled by he who shouts the loudest, so to speak. That said, I stumbled on this post over at The Lawdog Files: OK, I'll Play and  The Lawdog Files: Goodness which is Lawdog's response to Common Gunsense: Where There Is An Open Mind. On a whim I decided to play. Here are my twenty answers:

1. Do you believe that criminals and domestic abusers should be able to buy guns without background checks?
Yes. Background checks have conclusively proven to be ineffective against anyone buying or obtaining a firearm. Note that criminals still carry guns when it amuses them to do so.

2. What is your proposal for keeping guns away from criminals, domestic abusers, terrorists and dangerously mentally ill people?
I refuse to infringe on the Constitutional rights of the majority to provide the government with one more law to oppress the rest of the population. Moreover, I see no need for any such plan.

3. Do you believe that a background check infringes on your constitutional right to "keep and bear arms"?
Yes. I used to think that the background check was a good idea. I've changed my mind about that, as the information collected and saved by the government is being used to oppress the rest of us.

4. Do you believe that I and people with whom I work intend to ban your guns?
Anyone who proposes this question or any question resembling this one is very likely to ban firearms.

5. If yes to #4, how do you think that could happen ( I mean the physical action)?
I believe that the government would perform a house to house search and confiscation operation based on information collected during the 'background check' which is supposed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and which has not worked.

6. What do you think are the "second amendment remedies" that the tea party GOP candidate for Senate in Nevada( Sharron Angle) has proposed?
From what little I've read, Sharron Angle supports the Second Amendment the way that it was written. This is reason enough for me to support Sharron Angle.

7. Do you believe in the notion that if you don't like what someone is doing or saying, second amendment remedies should be applied?
It depends entirely on what the someone in question is doing.

8. Do you believe it is O.K. to call people with whom you disagree liars and demeaning names?
If a person is lying, doesn't that make him or her a liar? My own disagreement aside, if anyone is deliberately not telling the whole truth, aren't they a liar?

9. If yes to #8, would you do it in a public place to the person's face?
Yes, if the opportunity presented itself.

10. Do you believe that any gun law will take away your constitutional rights?
Yes, any and all gun laws do, in fact, take away or limit my constitutional right to bear arms.

11. Do you believe in current gun laws? Do you think they are being enforced? If not, explain.
I believe that current gun laws violate my constitutional rights. Yes, I believe that current gun laws are being enforced. I don't see that much explanation is necessary here - the United States government has many departments that enforce gun laws, not the least of which is the BATF.

12. Do you believe that all law-abiding citizens are careful with their guns and would never shoot anybody?
Yes, I believe that all law-abiding, gun owning citizens are careful with their firearms and would never shoot anyone without cause.

13. Do you believe that people who commit suicide with a gun should be included in the gun statistics?
Which statistics are you referring to?

14. Do you believe that accidental gun deaths should "count" in the total numbers?
Accidental deaths are recorded by the CDC. As to counting, as far as I know these deaths are counted correctly.

15. Do you believe that sometimes guns, in careless use or an accident, can shoot a bullet without the owner or holder of the gun pulling the trigger?
In the vast majority of cases the trigger must be pulled for the gun to fire. While it is possible for the gun to go off by being dropped or otherwise mishandled, it is extremely unlikely. 

16. Do you believe that 30,000 gun deaths a year is too many?
I know that the 30,000 deaths you refer to include intentional self-harm and police shootings. No, I do not think that 30,000 is too many.

17. How will you help to prevent more shootings in this country?
I'm willing and able to teach anyone safe gun handling who is willing to learn, and I'll go out of my way to do so.

18. Do you believe the articles that I have posted about actual shootings or do you think I am making them up or that human interest stories about events that have happened should not count when I blog about gun injuries and deaths?
Not having read any, I have no idea.

19. There has been some discussion of the role of the ATF here. Do you believe the ATF wants your guns and wants to harass you personally? If so, provide examples ( some have written a few that need to be further examined).
I have had no direct contact with the ATF. The people who would like to confiscate and destroy my firearms generally fall into two categories: Certain law enforcement personnel, who believe that an unarmed populace is a safe populace, and politicians and their supporters who want to control the populace in one case and be controlled by government in the other.

20. Will you continue a reasonable discussion towards an end that might lead somewhere or is this an exercise in futility?
Given that you are not a legislator at any level, then this is largely an exercise in futility.

The word 'reasonable' is a relative concept. What is reasonable to you is completely unreasonable to me, and at the same time might be something worth talking about to someone else. That being the case, consider the first amendment of the bill of rights. Obviously the 1A recognizes your right to free speech, but suppose the government doesn't like your speech, or that of your peers. The government could pass a law shutting you down (your blog is now history and you are officially gagged). Your solution to this untenable situation is one of the following:
  • Shut up wait for someone else to fix the problem
  • Continue to rant and get a midnight visit from a SWAT team who will serve a felony arrest warrant, throw you into jail and confiscate your computer and equipment. Your house and possessions will take a beating in the process, and it's likely your dog will be shot to death in front of your children.
  • Try voting someone else into office who promises to repeal this law, but who will likely suffer a case of selective amnesia once elected
  • If you have the money or you can raise it, take the law into court as being unconstitutional, then watch as the judge rules against you. Continue appealing until the money runs out or until the USSC refuses to hear the case.

Meantime you are not writing nor are you publishing what you write. See how this works? Even if you win at court, you have still been prevented from exercising a constitutional right that you truly believe you have for a significant period of time.

At the end of the tunnel, the USSC (or any other court) is extremely unlikely to rule as you would like, since in your own view you should be allowed to write and publish as you see fit - free speech. The court is much more likely to rule in favor of the government, and the best you can hope for is the compromise you don't want, such as some form of restricted speech. And, even if every single court that has jurisdiction in your case ruled in your favor and agreed with your position completely, the politicians who wrote and passed the Draconian law that restricted your speech are still in office and are not punished or even slightly discomfited. These fine fellows will simply rewrite the offensive law and pass it again.

Welcome to the world you created, sweetheart.

Road Trip: Columbus

My brother California Dave and I took a road trip down to Memphis, Tennessee recently to see my other brother, Shotgun Bob. On our way back we stopped in Columbus, Ohio to visit with our brother Big Mike. Some people might say that Mike has an unusual outlook on life, as evidenced by his welcome mat.

I'm reminded of a bar I patronized one afternoon in Jacksonville Beach, FL, where the middle aged men sitting at the bar would yell, 'Git outta here!' whenever a tourist walked in. If you got past the greeting it was evident that you belonged in the bar. Naturally, Mike provided excellent hospitality starting with an ice cold Perfect Manhattan, followed by dinner and serious drinking. The following day we went out to Black Wing, a truly luxurious gun range. On the way out, we saw this loony tune.

Village Idiot
For reasons best known to Divinity this clown was carrying a twenty foot aluminum ladder in his passenger compartment apparently braced against the dash board, and he wasn't driving slowly and carefully either. The blurred photo is due to rain. That's right, rain. I was just waiting for this idiot to go over a speed bump and lose the whole works out the back of his car along with a sizable chunk of his dashboard, thus not only ruining his day but making the lives of the drivers behind him a whole lot more interesting. Where is Beat and Release and his elite cadre of traffic enforcement officers when you need them?

Well, we were killed on the road we arrived at Black Wing safely. If you've never shot at Black Wing, it is truly an experience not to be missed. They offer handgun, skeet, trap and rifle along with a full service gun store, and they'll often have exhibitions that are worth attending. The three of us settled on handgun and a few rounds of skeet. We all did fairly well on the handgun range. I turned in a respectable score with Big Mike's Kimber.

Kimber .45

Kimber Score at 25 Feet
The best I was able to do was with my Ruger .22 at seventy five feet. I generally don't shoot at this range with a handgun, mainly because I can't see that far (I've lost a lot of my eyesight due to whiskey old age) and because I don't like looking foolish, which is generally what happens when I get the target back and find out I can recycle it without having to patch up any holes. This time I didn't do badly.

Score with .22 Ruger at 75 Feet
This was shot from a standing position, two handed. I suppose I should have tried a second target using one hand, just to see what would happen.

We shot two or three games of skeet. I was shooting my Ithaca 12 gauge featherweight pump, which kicks like a mule even when I'm in practice and used to the recoil. Suffice to say I haven't shot any skeet in over a year, and so stopped keeping score after station three. No, I'm not going to write Big Mike's score or California Dave's score.

Black Wing
We left Black Wing with the vague idea of going to the Columbus Zoological Gardens and Aquarium, I suppose because the theme of the day was shooting, but being fatigued we opted for a siesta followed by dinner.

Columbus Short North
Big Mike took us down to Columbus Short North, which is what every big city downtown area aspires to be and few succeed in achieving. Short North is an excellent place to go for an extended bar crawl and I highly recommend it to everyone.

After a short discussion, we settled on Italian food for dinner, so Big Mike suggested Marcella's. As usual, when Mike knows anything he knows what is best.

The food and service at Marcella's are outstanding, but the prices are not for the faint of heart. Still and all, the value is worth the price and I recommend Marcella's to everyone. For us, this was the perfect finish for an excellent day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Firing Squad

Over at Gamso - For The Defense I learned that there is a shortage of drugs that is likely to prove to be anti-life threatening for a very select group of people. From Gamso:
The drug us [is] Thiopental Sodium, trade name Pentothal, manufactured exclusively by Hospira.  And there's a shortage.   Hospira is unable to get one of the ingredients, so they can't manufacture any more Pentothal.  No more [Pentothal will be available until] sometime in the first quarter of next year.
The editing is mine, and if I'm incorrect my apologies to Mr. Gamso. This would concern everyone a whole lot less than it does were it not for one thing:'s the first drug in the three-drug mix that most states use to kill people.  It's the only drug in the one-drug method that Ohio and now Washington use (and that California has permission to use on Albert Brown if he so chooses).  So when there's not enough to go around . . . .
State governments will just have to stop executing fiendishly violent criminals. It's either that or put everything on hold for a while until more go to Jesus juice can be manufactured. That solution might be a little problematical as well, since by all accounts Hospira wants to move away from the State sponsored execution business. Of course, the State could fall back to another method. Firing squad, for instance.

Whoever decided that the firing squad is inhumane, or cruel and unusual doesn't know what they're talking about. Utah executed Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad back in June and didn't have any problems with it. Gardner was killed by four men using thirty caliber rifles at twenty-five feet, all four shots hitting in and around Gardner's heart.  Gardner was officially pronounced dead about two minutes later, which should be fast enough to satisfy everyone.

Given the expediency and efficacy of the firing squad, I see absolutely no need to use any other method. Everyone in charge of executing a criminal either knows how a firing squad works or can figure it out for themselves in very short order. There is never a problem finding qualified volunteers, rifles or ammo, and, as my brother Big Mike pointed out to me a few weeks ago, no one has ever survived a firing squad.

Compare this to the lethal injection method, which the government has screwed up beyond belief. Many times during lethal injection a vein can't be found, causing all kinds of discomfort and frustration on everyone's part. Then there is the possibility that the criminal isn't knocked out completely when the secondary or fatal portion of the drug cocktail is injected, thus causing a violation of the Eighth Amendment as the criminal suffers (we suppose) terrible agony when the heart is stopped. Other methods are also flawed, either by unnecessarily complex equipment and preparations, by unnecessary mutilation of the body or by efficacy - people have been known to survive, however briefly.

So I'm thinking this drug shortage might be a blessing in disguise. Ohio can return to the firing squad, which uses tried and true methods, does not require much by way of preparation, is unarguably efficient and does not require the assistance of medical personnel during the execution.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Worth Reading

I recently started reading Momma Fargo over at The Boogie Man Is My Friend, which describes the real life adventures of a 40 something police woman who is doing her level best on the job, day in and day out. Momma Fargo writes well and her stories are worth reading.

For those who don't know, Beat and Release has decided to being working on his memoirs, which I think is a very worthwhile endeavor. Go over and offer a few words of encouragement if you have the time.

Finally, saving the best for last, that lovable, ineffable epitome of curmudgeons everywhere, Fred Reed, explains just how and why the State of Florida has decided to expand the governmental abuse of its citizens to include children - Lunatics to the Left, Lunatics to the Right, and Not a Drop to Drink. Fred also conducts a survey about learning Spanish from his kind and gracious wife Violeta about half way down the Lunatics diatribe (click here). I may sign up just so I can talk to Violeta about Fred.

Rant: Sylvania Township Trustees At It Again

While idly surfing through The Blade I found that the three trustees from Sylvania Township are here to help us. Having suffered a temporary set back on the merger between the city of Sylvania and the Township and thus losing the chance to drive their constituents into the poor house with Draconian taxes, these three are now trying to shove mandatory resident funded waste management down our throats and lighten our bank accounts at the same time. Naturally it's for our own good. If the Township doesn't get more of our money, we'd risk straining ourselves carrying it around. Here's a link from The Blade: Sylvania Twp. residents' opinions sought on trash pact

Kevin Haddad is pushing this cart under the guise of recycling. Haddad has no idea how many Township residents recycle now, but like many other politicos Kevin is not one to allow ignorance to stand in the way of progress. Remember, Kevin is from the government and he's here to help.

Carol Contrada is busy running for Lucas County commissioner, so she really doesn't care one way or the other about Township waste removal so long as it doesn't interfere with her own plans to run one third of Lucas county. If Contrada follows her usual modus operandi, she'll wait until she's certain which way the fan is pointed before she climbs on the winning band wagon.

John Jennewine surprises me. John ostensibly wants to see what the residents would like to do before shoving the mandatory waste management plan down our throats, which is at least one small step in the right direction.

The bottom line here is that if you want an increase to your cost of living, you need do nothing. The Sylvania Township trustees will take care of that little problem for you without any help from you at all. You just need to write another check. Of course, maybe that isn't what the average Township resident wants. In that case get up off the couch and attend one or more of the public forums, and when you get there stand up and raise a little hell.

Again, quoted from the same article in The Blade: Community forums have been scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 7 p.m., both in the Sylvania Senior Center, and for Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., both in the Sylvania Township Hall.

If you don't stand up for yourself, no one else will.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday

Well, it's birthday time again. I prefer to celebrate my own birthday in the way of men, which means I'll go target shooting followed by a late lunch, said lunch to include drinking more than I should. When I'm happily half in the bag I'll go pat Main Lady on the ass and see if I get lucky.

Main Lady's birthday is arriving with the speed of a slow freight passing through a railroad yard. Main Lady's mom, the Centenarian, has her birthday the same week as Main Lady, which is convenient. A large party is planned involving both birthday girls, along with Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. QB1 may or may not be in attendance, but you can just bet your last dollar against a bottle of Thunderbird wine that yours truly, Mad Jack, will be impressed into service as a combination emcee, official party chauffeur, dance partner to Centenarian and Stepin Fetchit to everyone else. And, since Main Lady screwed her knee up three days ago to the point where her leg won't bend, this will be a solo act on my part. But the fun doesn't stop here, oh no. Since the three little darlings will be in town at the same time, Flopsy will forget to take her medicine (Lithium? Clozapine? who knows.) and in the name of being helpful to Main Lady will start carping to the other two about 'helping mama' until Cottontail loses her temper and snaps off a hot retort, thus giving Flopsy the excuse she needs to go completely around whatever strange bend lies ahead of her in the river of life mental health, so to speak. Don't ask me how any of this will be my fault, because I can't tell you. I just know that somehow this inevitable flare up will be attributed to my mother's favorite son, and that's that.

I was out buying birthday cards today. I bought several romantic cards for Main Lady along with a small present or two that I think she'll enjoy. I also bought cards for the Centenarian, which is easy to do. Just pick out one religious card and one 'special person' card, and that's a done deal. The thing is, there is no category for the final birthday person: Ding Bat.

About the same time Centenarian and her Man (Main Lady's father, now long deceased) discovered gin, dancing and whoopee two little girls showed up. One of these grew up to be a beautiful, talented and kindhearted licensed clinical psychologist, Main Lady. The other one is a spiteful, vindictive little twist whom I will henceforth refer to as Ding Bat. Ding Bat married a beltway lawyer whose sole claim to fame is that he skipped town right ahead of a host of legal papers having to do with a little mix up now known as the Watergate scandal. (No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I'm perfectly serious. No, I haven't been drinking. Yet.) I will refer to this corpulent bottom feeder as DC Law. Being retired, DC Law does little more than surf the Internet in search of new porn, play golf and suck down gin. About a fifth a week, I'd guess. Eating and sleeping also hold a great deal of fascination for DC Law. In my mind, he and Ding Bat are well matched and deserve each other, although each time Ding Bat comes up from Florida to visit Centenarian I swear I wouldn't wish her on anyone.

The thing is, as I walk through the greeting card section of Anderson's General Store I note that the cards are divided into categories, and that there is no category for people whom you do not like, but for whom you must buy and deliver an appropriate birthday card conveying your best wishes for a - see, words are failing me here. My best wishes for Ding Bat involve a Florida canal and an alligator, or maybe a cement mixer and a construction site. Likely it would help if I explained that Ding Bat hates me with a passion, and has done so for years. One year at a large family party she actually convinced Main Lady that I'd threatened to shoot her if she ever came over to the house again. I never said any such thing, but I want you, the reader, to note the turn your mind took as you read that sentence. You didn't think, 'How incredibly foolish.' or 'What an outrageous lie!'. You were thinking, 'Jeez, Mad Jack, you know there's laws against that kind of thing, and you being a gun owner and all... '. Fortunately for me Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail all saw through the story and the supporting Shaniqua theater (howling like the damned in the ladies rest room) and told her to get over herself. Doubly fortunate, the other ladies at the party believed the three little darlings instead of Ding Bat. Any men at the party heard about the entire affair days later and predictably shrugged the whole thing off as being none of their damned business. Which, by the way, is roughly when I heard about the story as well. I had no idea of what was going on until the entire business was finished and the rumors had died the death. Amazing, right?

Still, that leaves a gaping hole in the greeting card section. There are card categories for Birthday, Religious; Birthday, Romantic; Birthday, Hers; Birthday, His;  Birthday, Other; even Birthday, Dog. None for Birthday, Someone Who Hates You; Birthday, Mandatory; Birthday, Obligatory;  Birthday, Obligatory, Person You Hate But Can't Say So. Nor is there one for Birthday, Blood Sucking Ex-Wife or Birthday, Cheating Ex-Husband. Maybe I should go into the greeting card business. You think?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recent Films

Here's a quick review of the films I've seen recently. Mind you, the pickings are a little slim here.

The Kids Are All Right
7.5 out of 10
It's supposed to be a comedy/drama, and it's actually a drama/comedy. The chief virtue of this film is that Main Lady and I both enjoyed it - moderately. The acting is good, the story line is better.

The American, which is adapted from the book A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth
8.5 out of 10

A story about an assassin who builds guns and is able to take care of himself. Slow pacing with realistic gun fights (people die). I liked this because the characters in it have few redeeming qualities without being wantonly cruel. They don't have to go out of their way to prove themselves to anyone; they are bad news. Also, our hero does not leave troublemakers lying around alive so they can raise hell later.

I read the book, and the film follows the book fairly accurately. Both the film and the book are believable.

The Last Exorcism
3 out of 10
Boring story about a sky pilot confidence man who works the long con on people with unruly children, haunted houses and anything else that needs purification. The most interesting part of the entire movie is the exposure of the standard rigs used to produce psychic phenomenon. Warning: This digital masterpiece is shot with a poor quality hand held video camera, so if you are bothered by poor, shaky photography or worse home video, pass this little gem up in favor of a cheap DVD rental, a six pack and some fun with the old lady on the couch.

3 out of 10
I'm trying to decide why I rated this hound three out of ten when it just isn't that good. It isn't that the film, acting, story, dialog or special effects are bad, because they aren't. It's that the whole thing is boring. Nothing happens.

The Other Guys
zero out of ten
Flopsy suggested that Main Lady and I see this together. In retaliation, I'm sending Flopsy two season tickets to the Supermarket Clerk Championships in Kobe, Japan.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rant: Tom Skeldon

For anyone who has never read my occasional comment about Tom "Baby Doc" Skeldon, allow me to express my opinion of this miscreant as succinctly as possible: Lower than the scum that collects on the bottom of Toledo's inner city sewer system. Skeldon was the Lucas County dog warden, mainly because of family ties to Lucas County commissioner Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and political ties to Pete Gerken. Skeldon enjoyed killing dogs that were captured by his own version of the Tonton Macoute, but after killing one puppy too many the general public started calling for his head on a platter. Instead, they got Baby Doc's resignation (here and here). Baby Doc should have been fired and sent to prison for the rest of his natural life, but in some cases there is no justice.

While Baby Doc held office, license fees continued to climb as Baby Doc pleaded departmental poverty and Lucas County commissioners Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and Pete Gerken failed to object. Less than one year since Baby Doc left office the Toledo Blade reveals that there is a surplus of almost $900,000 in the dog warden's coffers.

Though Lucas County officials have for months pleaded poverty in resisting calls for improvements to the dog warden's kennels and operations, records obtained by The Blade show the department sitting on a fast-rising surplus of nearly $900,000.

Fueled by proceeds from the county's $25 dog license fee - the highest in Ohio - the warden's "dog-and-kennel fund" has grown about $300,000 annually since 2008, reaching $873,414 this year.
License fees could have been cut and homes could have been found for unwanted dogs. Instead, it was easier and a whole lot more fun for Baby Doc Skeldon to kill the dogs and watch the money build up.

One commissioner, Ben Konop, spoke out against Baby Doc from the beginning. Here is Ben's comment about the surplus, Baby Doc and government in general, courtesy of WTOL:

While dogs are dying because of lack of space, lack of medical care, and a lack of a comprehensive adoption outreach program, the department's reserve fund has quadrupled since 2007, apparently due in large part to the license fee increase strenuously advocated for by previous Dog Warden Tom Skeldon. This swelling surplus in conjunction with the continuing rate of euthanasia is an unconscionable misuse of taxpayer revenue and a prime example of how county government is broken.  
The Lucas County government has been riding on a bent axle for years. The only county commissioner who had any sense of financial responsibility and county government authority is Maggie Thurber, and she was always at odds with the other two over little things like authority granted by the State law, fiscal responsibility and the need for lower taxation.

If the Lucas county government is ever going to be fixed, the very first thing we need to do is get rid of Pete Gerken (term expires 2013) and Tina Skeldon-Wozniak (term expires 2013). For my money, rather than waiting three years both could be impeached, tared and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Saga of Deputy Jeff

As mentioned here, I'm distantly related to The Girl. It turns out The Girl has a sister of about the same age and different temperament whom we shall call Better Real Estate (BRE). BRE is married to Deputy Jeff, who the reader may correctly assume is a deputy sheriff. The happy couple live in the Northern wilds of Wisconsin, within spitting distance of the Arctic Circle.

Deputy Jeff is forced to do a certain amount of work on the Indian reservation, so called because the local constabulary have serious reservations about going out to 'the rez' for any reason at all, never mind official business. When I lived out in South Dakota I once observed a large man in a dark uniform come into Cody's place and announce that he'd like to trade his 1911 in on something else, whereupon he pulled the pistol out and unloaded it, then proceeded to throw extra magazines on the counter. I counted eight spare mags, after which curiosity got the better of politely minding my own damn business and I asked why he carried so many magazines.

"I work on the rez." the man replied, as if that explained everything. It did, too. Anyone who has ever packed a gat can tell you that it gets to be weighty and after a few days you don't carry any more iron than you have to, but this man carried eight extra magazines of ammo. A person doesn't do that for the same reason they buy a lawn ornament.

As Deputy Jeff will tell you, every single house inhabited dwelling (all types of dwellings, but generally not any sort of mansion) has between one to five large dogs of indeterminate heritage and irascible disposition. It's pretty much a given fact that none of these dogs have had any shots, as the choice of spending available funds is often made between rent, food and liquor. Sadly, veterinary care doesn't enter the equation. If the dwellings have people inside then the people are going to be armed, and I don't mean with a tomahawk. Hunting and fishing are not just an excuse to drink and play with the gun collection; people put meat on the table this way. Deputy Jeff, for instance, is almost always out hunting one critter or another, and when he isn't hunting he's fishing. This hunting includes bear season.

When Deputy Jeff got his bear tag the first thing he did after celebrating was start mixing up a nice batch of bear bait. One key ingredient to solid bear bait is good old well used deep fryer grease, which Jeff would get from the doughnut shop (there's only one such shop that far North). Well, Jeff was down to his last gallon of grease which he kept out in the garage because BRE wouldn't let him keep it in the kitchen, and he went out to mix up a batch of bear bait, and that's when Jeff discovered that a mouse had eaten a hole in the bottom of the can and the grease was all over the floor. Deputy Jeff decided to clean the mess up before he left for work, so he got out the garden hose and started hosing the floor off, not knowing about cold water and grease. Deputy Jeff's official police vehicle was parked just outside the garage door and it got hosed off as well, mainly from the splatter off the floor. When he was finished, Deputy Jeff got into his uniform and went to work.

As it happened, Deputy Jeff got called out to The Rez for some reason, very likely involving liquor, guns and domestic violence. Deputy Jeff found the residence without any trouble, and as he pulled into the yard eight large dogs came roaring out of the house and headed right for him. Jeff pulled his pepper spray, vowing to spray the first dog that attempted to take a bite out of crime prevention, but he needn't have worried. The dogs were after the car.

Every single dog latched on to a part of the car and started cleaning it with happy enthusiasm. All that grease, you see, had been sprayed on to the front of the car.

Restaurant Review: Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon

Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon
Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon
123 Whitetail Dr
Dundee, MI 48131-8607
(734) 529-8270

On our way back from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)  (which is now called Detroit-Metro by the local government - a sort of pseudo trendy 'Detroit isn't really sinking' name inspired by desperation and laziness) we stopped at the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon for dinner. We were all very hungry, so this review is colored by two conditions: One, everything tastes better when you're hungry; Two, the service will always be slow and vaguely irritating while you're waiting for your food to arrive.

The Lone Star Steakhouse is a chain. Everything is owned by Lone Star, which means that a local manager has very little flexibility on the things that might be improved. Things like service, ambiance and food quality, for instance.

Lone Star is decorated to strongly resemble some Eastern college graduate son of a Texas shitkicker's idea of what a gun fearing anti-freedom weenie from New York city would like to see in a Texas saloon just as soon as he rallies enough bravery to walk through the Hollywood bat wing doors. If you find that last sentence to be lacking in clarity, you now have some insight into the decor of any Lone Star Steakhouse in the United States. I'm given to understand that there may be Lone Star Steakhouses open in Australia, which means that the average Aussie now thinks we are all limpwristed Brokeback Mountain variants, partly due to the efforts of Lone Star Steakhouse and partly in retaliation for Crocodile Dundee. Don't let any of this deter you. If you like county western music and fake Texas decor, you'll love it here. To give the place credit, it's clean and well-lit.

The service at the Lone Star Steakhouse is slow and irritating. There were four of us and we ordered two steak dinners, a French dip sandwich and a bowl of soup for Mom, who wasn't hungry. It took over 30 minutes to get our food. The server stopped by three times during our thirty minute wait to reassure us that the kitchen was working on our order and it would be right up - okay? How do you explain to a mentally deficient twenty-something that no, it is a long way from okay. In fact, it is now a solid thirty minutes away from okay. I remained silent, as the poor girl was only the messenger and shooting her would do no good. When our food finally arrived, one steak was grossly undercooked and was returned to the kitchen. My steak was slightly over-cooked but I refused to send it back. The French dip sandwich was excellent.

Trouble with the service started as soon as our orders arrived. The waitress's standard greeting was some variant on, "Is everything outstanding?" delivered with a brainless, perky inflection. When I refused to respond with the equally brainless, enthusiastic "Yes!" that she's been trained to expect, the poor creature to became confused. After we were served, the manager appeared to make sure that we were completely satisfied. When the manager failed to get the brainless enthusiastic agreement to his own version of "Is everything outstanding?" he repeated himself several times, clearly expecting a different response. Failing to get "Everything's excellent!" the man discovered he'd turned into a mental dead end, and he was clearly at a loss for words. The training manual didn't cover this situation. I explained that the food took too long to arrive and that my steak was good, but not excellent. The manager reassures me that he'll look into that and get it fixed, although just how this will help us now escapes me. Our waitress continued to show up every few minutes with her question of the evening, but as soon as we finished our meal she vanished. No surprise there, right?

The waitress is slow with the check and is so slow in bringing my change that I finally shine it on and let her keep the balance as her gratuity. In hindsight, I shouldn't have done this but I was tired from the trip. No longer hungry, what I really wanted to do was go home and surround a double shot of Jack Daniel's, watch a little TV and go to bed. The price of my immediate gratification is a couple dollars, which I can afford.

In summary:
  • Ambiance: 6
  • Service: 5
  • Food: 7
Overall rating: 6.

I'd eat at the at the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon again despite my low evaluation, but I'd do so knowing what to expect.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Road Trip: Milwaukee

As I mentioned here I have reason to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a funeral. My immediate thought was to put the luggage behind me and the car under me, but I'm taking Mom along and the drive could be somewhat tiring. Therefore, we will fly to Milwaukee out of Detroit by way of the Big Windy. We depart on Saturday, September 11, 2010.

When I booked this flight, I didn't make the obvious connection as I had (still have) other things on my mind. Hindsight being what it is, I still wouldn't change anything, and in fact I'd consider altering my schedule so as to fly on the infamous 9-11 day. My reasoning is simple. If we, the free citizens of the United States of America, alter our way of life to accommodate the cowardly actions of a few Islamic terrorists then the terrorists have won a small victory. I'm not going to give them that. In fact I'll go a long way out of my way to deny them any sense of victory at all.

Independence Day 2010
I'll be back on Tuesday, courtesy of United Airline. See you then!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road Trip: Home

Well, I'm back. I'm in one piece and able to sit up and take notice left and right, but don't expect me to provide a definition of the universe and nine examples just yet. I'm busy sitting at my favorite bar, drinking beer and morosely wondering why life sucks.

I have a brother, Shotgun Bob, who got married last October to The Girl. This is not The Girl's first marriage, and along with other baggage she brought along two sons and one daughter, all adults. Son Number One was 25 years old, unmarried, possessed a significant other (SO1), painted houses for a living and decided to start his own house painting company. Being out of work for a while (which provided the motivation to start his own company), Son Number One and SO1 lived with Shotgun Bob and The Girl. Shotgun Bob wasn't crazy about this, but was willing to help so long as the goal was to get four feet firmly planted on their own piece of terra firma. After a few days of advertising on Craig's List, the business just rolled in for Number One, and in three days he had accumulated 30 days of work. Red hot damn, right? Everyone's happy.

Last Monday, Labor Day, Number One lay down to take a nap and woke up on the wrong side of the lawn. Dead right there, as the saying goes. The cause of death is unknown. The Girl is devastated.

Putting this on hold for a moment, I have a cousin via Auntie Annie and Uncle Sardonicus, whom I shall refer to as 88. 88 is a published author and makes her living writing. 88 is self-sufficient and I never really hear much from her, which is understandable given my nature, so when I got a call saying that 88 was sick and in the hospital I was a little concerned. It seems that 88 has been under the weather for two weeks, and her land lady insisted 88 go to the hospital, then took her there. The sawbones ran a blood test, admitted her and started a cocktail of antibiotics and morphine. 88 has been diagnosed with severe peritonitis. Since then I have learned that the antibiotics are not working as advertised, and based on the results of a procedure this morning an appendectomy may take place Thursday (tomorrow), rather than waiting for the infection to clear up. Needless to say, 88 is feeling like 25 miles of bad road being agitated by a road grader in the middle of winter.

In the middle of all this I detected the gentle sound of a .308 being discharged from Flanders Road. Since nothing hit the house, and since all the lights went out I deduced that the sound might be attributed to something else. A transformer, maybe. Walking outside and observing the line connecting home sweet home to the money pit FirstEnergy I discovered something amiss.

Busted Pipe
Yep, no question about it. This just ain't right. I followed the trail back to the pole next to the house.

Busted Pole Tree
Even to my untutored eye, this didn't seem altogether kosher. I mounted my emergency velocipede and pedaled back along the power line, finding another set of lines down along the way. A tree had fallen taking the entire Eastern seaboard down. Again. I wondered briefly if I'd be held liable. So now, with two family emergencies to contend with, we were without power, phone or cable - hence, no Internet connection. I had conveniently left my cell phone at Big Mike's house in Columbus (Mike promised to mail it back to me, which is nice of him) and Mom's cell is low on fuel, showing only two bars on the battery icon. We managed to call the electric company and after navigating the phone tree several times, reported the condition: no power, line down. The helpful lady at FirstEnergy wanted to know what we meant by 'down'. I stifled a somewhat pithy rejoinder about Monica Lewinsky and expert advice.

Help Arrives
Help arrived in the form of two trucks and many officials. The FirstEnergy repairmen directed the chain saw men to clear the way for a new pole and wires, and to give credit where it's due the trees and brush got cleared. The chain saw crew also trimmed a few dead branches from the oak tree in the front yard, free of charge. I thought that was generous of them and slipped them a few bucks for their trouble.

Earth Auger
The job consisted of replacing the pole, transformer and wires which meant that the crew worked until the early morning. After the brush and two trees were cleared by the chain saw crew, a hole for the new pole must be dug and the pole set.

Earth Auger Results
Setting the Pole
Tamping the Pole
Anyone who has built fence knows that you can't just shovel the dirt in around the post, but must tamp the dirt so as to pack it solidly around the pole. The FirstEnergy team used a power tamper to do this, a device something like a jack hammer. This saves the workers a quart of sweat when the set a new pole. After the pole got set, the old transformer must be replaced with a nice new transformer.

Old Transformer
New Transformer
FirstEnergy Work Crew
Not counting the chain saw men, this entire operation involved three trucks and six or eight men working until about 2:00 AM. I gave out around midnight and went to bed.

New Tree Pole
Here are the results: A new tree pole stands next to the old one. We now have phone, electricity and cable. The Internet connection is back. So today I can talk to family members who are in crises.

While I don't agree with FirstEnergy's management decisions (I used to work at Davis Besse) the repair crews did an excellent job and were pleasant to talk to. My thanks to the men who restored power to our home.