Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

Main Lady and her little darlings Flopsy and Mopsy went out shopping on Black Friday. Cottontail would have joined them had she been in town, but she and Que Bee One are off somewhere doing something else, possibly supporting a protest against turkey hunters. With any luck they'll each get a butt full of number nine shot by way of retribution from a disgruntled turkey hunter, although neither one would be dissuaded. Big Mike and I went shooting, followed by drinking and a fashionable mid-afternoon lunch at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company. This is the way civilized men should spend Black Friday.

We drove out to the Bullet Stop and found it was closed. The new store hours are 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Somewhat discouraged we were about to leave when the owner showed up with both dogs and let us in. We were her only customers, she explained, and she'd been in the house to keep warm.

Indeed. For those of you who don't know, the Bullet Stop is a house trailer parked next to a barn. The range is an enclosed structure built inside the barn, so it has double insulation and never sees the light of day. Given the temperature outside was about thirty degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside was about 20. You could see your breath at the range, something that Big Mike thought hilariously funny. I failed to see his humor and didn't comment. I forced myself to ignore the cold and somehow coaxed my numb fingers into stuffing bullets into the clip for my gat. Well, at least we had the place to ourselves, everyone else being wise enough to stay home and watch TV or something.

Buckmark and Target

Big Mike started out with his Browning Buckmark and did well with it, which is not unusual. I've shot the Buckmark before, and I think it has a slightly better trigger pull than my Ruger. The Ruger tends to balance a little better for me, and I've always thought about getting some work done on the trigger. But then, if it works, why fix it?

Ruger Mark II

I 'warmed up' with my Ruger .22 and didn't do badly. One thing about the range at the Bullet Stop is that it isn't just cold; it's cold and dark. My eyesight is not what it once was, so all things being equal I'm not too unhappy with these results at 25 feet.

Ruger Mark II

To compensate for the lack of light I put a nice, big international orange sticky in the middle of my target to see how much I would improve. Not so much, as it turned out.

I ran a few clips of .45 through my Springfield 1911 Mil. Spec. Again, I didn't do badly. This target was typical of my performance today and was perforated at 30 feet or so, with the shots fired at a little less than one second each. That's about as fast as I can shoot and actually hit anything.

When we first started shooting Big Mike casually mentioned that he had some left over .357 ammo that he was going to run through his Smith and Wesson. I think he may have said this after I put my ear protection on. I wear both ear plugs and muffs as I would like to preserve what little hearing I have left, and shooting indoors without ear protection is a good way to damage your ears.

While I was busy trying to keep all my shots inside the international orange sticky, Big Mike sneaked over to the equipment table just as quiet as a little mousy and switched guns, trading his Browning Buckmark for his S&W 686. Then, just as I was trying to control my labored breathing and squeeze off another shot, the entire world exploded.

To give myself credit, I did not jerk the trigger three or four times in a kind of knee jerk reaction to the shock wave, nor did my heart stop. When I regained my composure, I put my pistol down and went next door to see just what the hell Mike was shooting. "Three fifty seven." Mike replied to my query. "Kinda has some spunk to it, doesn't it?"

Remington .357

S&W 686 with Empties

.357 Results

I shot the .357 once, and once was enough. Whatever Remington was putting in those bullets was hot, and the recoil was enough to drive me back to my own lane and my .45. Big Mike was undeterred, but even with his chow hooks he would break off frequently to allow his wrists to recover. I was impressed that Mike kept everything on target. What usually happens is that a shooter will draw a careful bead on the target and torch off a round with some snort to it, and the first shot will be right in the ten right. Subsequent shots are all over the place, as the shooter has developed a permanent flinch and jerks each time the gun goes off. Not so with Big Mike, who destroyed the center of his target in fine style.

After that the real fun started. A few years ago Big Mike stumbled across a Beretta Cx 4 Storm in .45 and decided to buy it. The seller told Mike he couldn't keep the carbine in stock, and I can see why. The carbine is dead easy to operate, the controls are placed very nicely and it's set up so it can be easily changed for left handed shooters. The sights are ghost ring (rear) and post which work a whole lot better than I ever imagined.

Beretta Cx4 in .45

My Efforts

Here are my efforts with the carbine at 50 feet. This is from a standing position, about one shot per second. I'm impressed with the gun; if I can produce results like this, a serious shooter should do much better.

Mike's Results
Big Mike shot the carbine from a standing position at 50 feet, about one shot per second without a rest. Clearly, this is much better than government work would require.

Blitzen Ale at Maumee Bay

We finished up at Maumee Bay. I had the Blitzen ale, which I recommend to anyone who enjoys an ale that is not too bitter or strong tasting. The Blitzen has a nice mellow, somewhat fruity flavor that goes very well with lunch.

The three empties you see fell out of my coat when I took it off. I rescued them from the floor and Mike and I wondered if the owners would call the SWAT team. Anthony the bartender remained unruffled, but our reaction is a sad commentary about the world we live in. When I lived in South Dakota the sporting goods store was in the basement of the DakotaMart supermarket. I bought a shotgun while I was there and carried my new shotgun, uncased, up the stairs and through a busy supermarket, out the door and across the parking lot to my car where I stowed it carefully in the trunk. Not one person so much as raised an eyebrow.


Our Thanksgiving holiday was excellent, if a bit tiring. Mom is not as young and vigorous as she once was, so a large portion of the work fell to her favorite son who is privileged to be able to do it. This involves moving the furniture into a new configuration so as to accommodate the extended dining room table and chairs. Then the fine china has to be retrieved from its hiding place, along with the silver, tablecloth and various serving dishes. The table must be set properly, with the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. The cooking involves putting the turkey into a smoker with mesquite chips and cooking it for four hours, a process that we've been using for years and which never fails to produce an excellent turkey. The smoker has a large pan of water just over the firebox which keeps all the meat moist.

I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is limited shopping to worry about and, generally speaking, a maximum amount of pleasant socializing. In past years when more of our family were on this side of the lawn, Uncle Sardonicus would get a snoot full and lose his temper arguing politics with the rest of the crew. Auntie Annie would be horrified at his behavior and would give him hell when they would get back home. Sadly those days have gone by the wayside. For one thing, Auntie Annie finally had enough of Uncle Sardonicus's drinking habits and told him that if he didn't straighten up he'd find himself dog housed permanently. For another, Sardonicus has since developed a health condition that prohibits drinking anything more than one beer every six months or so. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

The one thing that I do not enjoy about Thanksgiving is the K.P. duty. Traditionally this job always fell to the women, although Auntie Annie always had to prod 88 to get her to pitch in and help. Then one year the women made an executive decision to clean up the kitchen between the meal and the serving of desert, which resulted in the men waiting around for an hour for a piece of pie. This didn't sit well with the men, and the Whiskey Man said as much to Mom. My dear Auntie Annie didn't have sense enough to be intimidated by the Whiskey Man, and so retorted that if the men could do any better they were welcome to try. Never one to back away from an electric fence and a pissing contest, Shotgun Bob put both feet into the leg hold trap and was joined by California Dave and Big Mike. So it was decided that the men would serve desert and provide clean up services.

All I can say is that at the time this decision was made, I was under the influence and had the good sense to stay quiet. Big Mike will likely argue that I was too loaded to speak, but he doesn't know what he's talking about since he was busy egging Shotgun Bob on while all this was happening. I won't bore the readers with an extended description of that first effort except to say that half the men involved had restaurant experience, and I don't mean managerial. Having little experience in a commercial kitchen, I was appointed as head waiter, which on the surface seemed like a good idea. In fact I had consumed three of the Whiskey Man's martinis (generous doubles of hundred proof - the Old Man knew how to pour a drink) and couldn't pour the coffee without spilling it. Then 88 squirted whipped cream all over my shirt. Never minding all that, Big Mike appointed himself head of the Kitchen Police and as a result of his hard work and organizational skills the desert was served in a timely fashion and the kitchen was actually cleaner and neater than when the cooking started. That's saying something, as Mom is very particular about her kitchen.

Usually Big Mike gets stuck washing the dishes. This year I determined that Mike would not get stuck with this somewhat onerous task, and since Shotgun Bob and The Girl elected to have Thanksgiving with Herself's family at trailer court North, I would do the dishes. This required some preparation on my part, meaning that I stayed out of the booze and took care not to over-eat. I also took a pain pill between dinner and desert as my lower back was bothering me from the morning preparations and from being on my feet most of the day, and I knew that bending over the sink would aggravate it.

The thing is, Mom likes to serve the dinner on fine china. I suggested paper plates and my suggestion was rejected out of hand. Since putting the china into the dish washer will ruin it, that means that everything must be washed by hand. This includes most of the cookware as well, as the dish washer can only accommodate  six of the 57 pieces used to prepare the meal. Grab the sponge and start washing, Jack. Big Mike and his mom, Chatelaine, dried dishes and put things away, for which I thank them. The washing procedure seemed to go on forever, and about half way through I realize that if the pain pill I took is working, it is not working well enough to counteract the nasty little demon with the ice pick. I resolve not to give up, and so in defiance of my notion that I've actually died and gone to Hades, there to wash dishes forever, the job eventually gets finished.

The women spend the time playing some sort of game in the living room which involves scrabble words, hearts and flowers. Mom enjoys herself, which makes the effort worthwhile. Did I mention that Shotgun Bob and The Girl were absent? No matter. They'll be here for the Christmas holiday, and then the two of them can be assigned to KP. Of course Mom has decided that since we'll be having a larger crowd on Christmas, perhaps it would be best to use paper plates instead of the good china.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why All the Fuss?

Over at Jess Miss Placed Le Chef blogs about the trials and tribulations of being an overweight mother whose comfort zone is directly related to her husband's largess (An Assumption of Dumplings and Expensive Pork Products). Tonight the disgruntled walrus must prepare dinner and doesn't feel she's up to it (for whatever reason). Le Chef surfs the Internet until she finds what she believes to be a suitable recipe provided by Better Homes and Gardens, a publication I have little experience with. You can check out the recipe here if you like. I did, and I can say with assurance that you could not pay me enough money to cook this bizarre concoction let alone serve it to anyone – friends, family or not. Dispensing with all that for the moment, Le Chef has a large gap in her logic. Fixing an odd and somewhat complex dinner for the tribe. Why all the bother?

If you're feeding kids, you are essentially slopping the hogs - except the hogs are as picky and persnickety about the stuff on the table as a Persian cat with an attitude that needs adjusting. The real solution is to buy a few cans of the kid's favorite slop and serve it up in front of the TV. They'll be quiet and content for a while, at least until the sibling rivalry starts. This is to be expected and rather than waste time on enforcement of a noise level regulation, you should take advantage of the distraction and use it as a part of your current behavioral modification program.

It is a fallacy that children are inherently good. Men, being men, know this as truth about male children. Certain men have a blind spot where female children are concerned, but fortunately women do not. If you are going to have civilized children in your home and attached to you in public, you must train them yourself. Observe that meal time provides you with a nice opportunity to work on any behavioral modifications you're concentrating on just now. Rewards in the form of food, TV and  the entertainment siblings and peers invariably find by observing a fellow sibling being disciplined are all easily available. Remember that positive reinforcement is much more effective than punishment for some infraction. For instance, if little Susie loses her temper because the world doesn't conform to her expectations and begins shrieking like a cheap smoke alarm, remove a potion of her Spaghetti Os because of her failure to use an indoor voice, not because she screams loudly enough to cause her mother to lose a filling in the lower bicuspid. Similarly, if little Jimmy places a rat trap where his younger siblings will be certain to get their toes caught in it, deprive Jimmy of TV by moving child and food to another area of the home – a detached garage works well, providing flammable liquids are secured against mischief.

The Old Man's preferences in dinner may not be far removed from the children's favorite slop. Given that Le Chef is married to this poor hump she should know all this, but it never fails to amaze me how many women do not realize that their husbands will be perfectly content with a dinner of pizza, beer and mindless sex for desert. You can always substitute hot wings for pizza, and remember that the sex does not need romance attached to it, either before or after.

So if Le Chef doesn't feel like cooking, that's fine, but why bother with some kind of elaborate camouflage job involving pork tenderloin, frozen pirogi and reduced vinegar? Slop the hogs and give the Old Man the kind of tenderloin he's been asking for.

Rant: TSA

Like everyone else who isn't living in complete isolation, I've been following the tyrannical antics of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and wondering just how it's all going to come to an end. I'm betting that the beatings will continue until morale improves. Not to make too light of a serious infraction of our Constitutional rights, but I see precious little being done to redress outrages such as:

Michigan Man Left Covered in Own Urine following TSA Pat-Down From the article:
Thomas Sawyer, a retired Michigan teacher and cancer survivor on his way to Florida, says he was left humiliated and covered in his own urine following a pat-down by Transportation Security Association (TSA) officers earlier this month at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Some of the worst cases of abuse can be found at the Detroit Metro airport, although there are a few sterling exceptions to the run of the mill TSA goon squad. The reason for this is easy to see once you have to pass through DTW a few times. When the TSA opened for business in Detroit they hired minimum wage workers, many of whom are so ignorant it's pathetic. This leads to an abuse of authority on the part of the TSA.

George v. TSA The moral of this story is: Don't carry anything written in a foreign language. It's likely that George will win this case, but the source of the problem (ignorant and abusive TSA agents) will remain unimpeded and intact until the case is settled, and will very likely not be required to alter their behavior even if George wins the case.

TSA Pulls Aside Humorist Dave Barry for "Blurred Groin" Unable to get a good view of Dave Barry's wedding tackle, the TSA perverts pull him out of line and shake him down.

Back in 2004 Senator Ted Kennedy ended up on the TSA black list (Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List) and was stopped five times for questioning by the TSA. Kennedy is a United States senator of August years in office and was an easily recognizable public figure. It took Kennedy three weeks to have his name removed from the no-fly list. The real crime was that Sen. Kennedy failed to either get the no-fly list abolished, or modify the no-fly procedure so as to protect the average citizen who chooses to fly but who does not have the clout of an August United States Senator. Why not? Literally, it wasn't important to him.

One major problem with governmental abuse of authority is that there is no one to complain to. No one that will do any good, anyway. Consider the TSA pervert who decides that your 13 year old daughter needs to be searched. Just what are you going to do about that? Allow it and deal with the trauma later on? Who can you complain to? Here are a few links to follow:

Where to Protest Airport Full Body Scans, Pat Downs, TSA Abuse

Lend Your Voice on Security Screening

Think Your Rights Have Been Violated While Traveling? Tell Us Your Story.

Flyers Rights

Governmental abuse and violation of citizens Constitutional rights is nothing new in the United States. I think that one the most egregious violations in recent history occurred in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina devastated the area and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the police to confiscate all the firearms in the city. The police didn't need much ordering - they were only too happy to oblige. See the article NRA: The Untold Story of Gun Confiscation After Katrina. I believe that when the federal government learned about this abuse, they allowed it to continue to gauge the resistance. After all, if the New Orleans police were able to confiscate guns in the city without a huge protest, maybe such an idea would work on a larger scale. A State, say, or a large city like Chicago or New York.

I note that there wasn't a huge outcry from commercial media or the ACLU about the gun seizure in New Orleans. I also note that the guns were seized without a warrant of any kind and without issuance of a receipt by the police. Furthermore, many or most of the firearms have never been returned to their rightful owners. I guess the government won this one.

The federal government knew that this new scanning technology was coming. They knew what it did, they understood all about the invasive body search that is now being used, and they approved it. The Anointed One said that it's a necessary inconvenience (Obama: TSA’s Nude Screening a Necessary Inconvenience). I'm betting the first lady and the first and second daughters don't get shaken down before they get on a plane. In fact, I'll bet they never get shaken down. I'm also betting that this new abuse is being used, in part, as a test run to see what the general public will tolerate. So far it looks like the public will tolerate a lot. Still, State Department fascist Hillery Clinton has joined forces with The Anointed One in asking the TSA to turn it down a notch or two (Obama, Clinton ask TSA to make body screening less invasive). Which is a real joke when you consider that when The Anointed One says jump John Pistole screams "How high?" on his way up.

If fascist Clinton and The Anointed One actually cared about the rights of the people they are supposed to represent, this process would have been rejected out of hand. The truth is, they don't care. Neither do the other moral reprobates in the government who are failing to speak out against this kind of abuse every single day. In fact, any elected official who isn't railing against this crap every day does not deserve to be in office. The lot of them should turn in their resignation and immigrate to Venezuela where they can go to work for Hugo Chavez. They'll be more at home there.

Here's one man with the right idea. Colorado Springs, Colorado city councilman Sean Page has had enough and is willing to replace the TSA (Councilman wants to replace TSA in Colorado Springs), for which I congratulate him. Good job, Mr. Page. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cost of a Criminal Trial

Notable attorney Jeff Gamso wrote an essay about Anthony Sowell's trial, which has cost the county government $185,000 so far and is going to cost more. A lot more. As usual Jeff makes some good points and provides a few links. His efforts inspired me to write a response which I posted in the comments section (and which caused an error, but which posted anyway) and which I'll expand here. You can read Jeff's essay at this link: $185,000 and Counting and it's worth reading. Go and read it, then come back. I'll wait.

The trouble is that we the people are not consulted on cases like this. Consider both ends of the death penalty opinion spectrum. On one end sit Bubba, Sissy and Joe, none of whom can imagine spending $185 grand on anything, much less a trial for a whacked out serial killer. Their opinion consists of two thoughts:

"$185 grand?! Hell no I wouldn't spend it! Just take that crazy sumbitch out back and shoot him. Cost you fifty cents. Shit, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I know guys who'd actually pay five dollars to do it."

All of which is very likely the Sunday School truth. When you try to explain to this crowd why the death penalty can't work that way, the only progress you'll make is to create frustration with your seeming ineptitude to grasp the simplest of facts, whereupon you'll get the second part of their opinion.

"Just 'splain to me why we can't (caint?) take the crazy summbitch out back and shoot him. You know damn good and well it's 'cause of those bleedin' heart gun grabbin' commie fagot lib-rals!"

Just how the gun grabbing (with a gee, Bubba) etcetera Liberals are stopping such a sensible plan is never made clear, but it will remain an incontrovertible fact. The argument will then take you back to part one, taking the accused out back and shooting him. The thing is that in a case like this their idiotic argument begins to sound reasonable, especially when you consider the cost of an execution for someone who is much more than very likely a deranged serial killer.

At the other end of the bell curve are the overly zealous opponents of the death penalty, Blake, Henry, Winston and Elizabeth, each and every one of whom live or have lived in a home valued at more than $185,000, and what is more can easily imagine spending $185,000 on several items. As individuals they would certainly spend in excess of $185,000 in legal fees for their own defense or defense of their family, and likely would contribute heavily to someone else's defense fund, such as Jack Sparagowski and the convicted murderer Father Gerald Robinson See here, here and here.

Their arguments are generally based on all life being sacred, which is easy for them to believe because their lives are easy. They argue that the death penalty amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which it does given the way that our justice system carries it out. However, as Bubba will point out, if you shoot someone in the back of the head he won't even know what hit him (or words to that effect). Finally there is the inherent wrongness of 'an eye for an eye', and all the world ending up blind if we go in that direction. The trouble is that phrase actually means that if someone steals $100 from my dear old mother I'm not allowed to burn their house down, kill their family and then go out there in the middle of the night and piss on the ashes!!

Sorry, I got carried away for a minute.

But spend $185,000 on the trial of a killer like Anthony Sowell? Not so much. They aren't willing to spend $185 grand on the trial either. They consider it a waste of money that could otherwise be spent on public works, such as teaching people to read or protecting endangered species, or confiscating Bubba's gun collection. Alright, I'm being unfair here. I don't believe they want the entire collection - just the functional firearms.

The one thing that these two groups can agree on is that it's just plain nuts to spend this much money on a trial that seems pretty open and shut to me. How much guiltier can this man be? Come on!

So establish some dollar amount as the maximum, say $5000 or so. If the projected expenditures exceed this amount, the death penalty gets taken off the table and replaced with life in prison without possibility of parole. On the other hand if the murdering 'sumbitch' is so completely, obviously guilty that the expenditures for the trial stay under the limit, then the death penalty can remain on the table. If this sounds a little too sensible to work, put it in front of the voting public and see what shakes out. I'll bet you'd be surprised.

Here are two links to the case:

Cleveland's nightmare on Imperial Avenue: One year later

Cost of suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell's defense surpasses $185,000 mark

I support the death penalty, and the case of Anthony Sowell is a good example of why we should have the death penalty. At the same time, the only method I believe to be humane is the firing squad, which is rarely used these days. More importantly, I oppose the procedure that the government uses to put criminals on death row.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Notable Holidays

Take Note!

This coming Friday (November 19, 2010) is National Ammo Day. This was started several years ago by the outspoken, trenchant blogger and entrepreneur Kim du Toit, who also penned and published such gems as  The Pussification Of The Western Male, republished here since Kim's website went the way of the passenger pigeon and the dodo bird. The idea is that everyone purchase 100 rounds of ammo, ideally putting one billion rounds of ammunition into the hands of law abiding citizens in the United States while simultaneously giving anti-freedom moonbats a bad case of indigestion. I'm all for it and I'll be buying my 100 rounds on Friday. Click here and here for more details.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 is National Opt-Out Day. This is a protest of the government's Draconian security measures to "protect" everyone who travels by airplane. I'm talking about the electronic strip searches here. The idea is to decline to be passed through the electronic strip search system and request an invasive pat-down instead. Decline the offer of a private office - make the TSA goons shake you down in public, and be sure to keep an eye on your personal possessions while you're being groped. Personally, I refuse to fly anywhere that will subject me to this kind of police state treatment. I'll walk first.

Here are a few links to sites about National Opt-Out Day:
National Opt-Out Day, which includes links to news reports at the bottom of the page
Today in Travel, by Carl Unger.
Ask the Pilot, by Patrick Smith. This is one of the better articles I've read about airport security and terrorism.

If you don't like the invasive security measures that our government is using, write your Congress critter.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Life: Emergency Rescue

Last post (here) we left Mad Jack trying to mind his own business and surround a few calories along with two fingers of Johnny Walker Black, then the phone rang.

It's Main Lady and she has some type of emergency.

"Jack, there's a bunny in my mom's front yard." Main Lady sounds a little upset, which clues me in to lay off the smart remarks - like, for instance, "How old is she?".

"Well... " I fumble around for something intelligent.

"I've never seen a bunny like this one. It's all silky brown with white markings on it." Main Lady explains.

"Okay, it's someone's pet rabbit." I search around for a way out and can't come up with anything.

If you haven't tipped to my predicament, let me enlighten you. The critter in question is in Centenarian's front yard and has been discovered by Main Lady, therefore it is now Main Lady's responsibility. Now, even without seeing the rabbit, I can tell that it's someone's pet rabbit and that it isn't going to survive outside. It doesn't have the skill set, for one thing. The temperature is against it as we're hitting the 20s during the night and the rabbit will likely freeze to death. Then there are the neighborhood felines, all of whom might find a little hossenfeffer to be a welcome addition to their otherwise bland diet. The grand finale to all this will happen the next day when Main Lady will go looking for the cute little bunny rabbit and find the raw materials for a pair of winter gloves. And then, since it was yours truly (that would be me, Mad Jack) who advised her not to worry about the bunny, and said that the owners would likely find it or the bunny would just hop along home - well, I will envy the dog his dog house is all I can say.

"Will you come over here and help me?" Main Lady asks. I note that Main Lady knows better than to ask if I'd like to help her. She asks if I would help her. Be willing, that is. What can I say? I put my car under me and head over to the Centenarian's house. Here is what I find:

Bunny Rabbit
I don't know what breed it is, but the rabbit in question was huddled in the flower garden in Centenarian's front yard, munching on the tiny white flowers. It didn't respond to activity around it in typical rabbit fashion (run like hell away from anything), although I did not try petting it or picking it up.

"What do we do with it?" asked Main Lady. "We can't just leave it out here."

'How the hell would I know and why the hell not?' I thought. Just why is this rabbit my problem? I consider things for a moment. While it is possible that the rabbit somehow escaped its hutch, it's much more likely that some parent got sick and tired of taking care of the rabbit and took it to an inhabited wooded area and dropped it off, figuring some schmuck will take it in. I discard the much more likely scenario in favor of the 'escaped pet rabbit' possibility.

"It is certainly someone's pet rabbit, and it's escaped. It's looking for it's rabbit cage." Whatever the hell a rabbit cage looks like, I fail to add. I look at Main Lady, who is buying all this.

"Do you suppose we can find the owners?" Main Lady asks me.

"I'm sure of it." I say. "The bunny can't have traveled very far. It probably came from one of the neighbor's back yards."

We pile in my car and head around the block where Main Lady considers our options. The house immediately opposite Centenarian's home is occupied by a 30 something weasel who works nights, sleeps days and used to do yard work for Centenarian and Main Lady. He ended up stealing Main Lady's new leaf blower and we haven't seen him since, and that was five or six years ago. To the right of weasel lives a family of dwarfs.  No, I'm not kidding. No, I haven't been drinking. Left of weasel is a home with several jack o' lanterns out front, two vehicles in the driveway with one being a minivan, and a basketball hoop. The garage door is up.

"Pay dirt." I say, parking in the street. We walk up and I ring the bell.

A dog sounds the call to general quarters and is joined by a second, less enthusiastic dog. The barking goes on for quite a while, then a muffled male voice commands silence and the barking stops. No one comes to the door.

"Gee, do you suppose no one is home?" Main Lady asks.

"What, with two cars in the driveway and the door open? Yes, they're home." I reply, thinking to myself 'No you don't pal. I know you're in there and you know you're in there. Now come out and see who's driving your dogs nuts.' I ring the bell again, feeling a little peeved. The dogs start up again and the barking goes on for a minute or so, then suddenly stops.

Main Lady spots the man first. He's coming out of the garage and right away I tense up a little. The man is average size, lighter than I am by several pounds, but the thing that makes me wonder what's going on is the way he acts. He acts hinky. I don't know how to describe it otherwise. His expression is wrong and he moves too quietly or something. Main Lady starts talking.

"We found someone's pet rabbit over by my mom's place, and we wondered if it belonged here. Do you have a pet rabbit?"

The guy hesitates for too long a time. "Maybe... " he finally says. "I think the girls have one."

Maybe? What kind of answer is that? We go back and forth in this vein for a while before he finally admits that the two girls have a pet rabbit that gets out sometimes, but that he doesn't want anything to do with it.

"I washed my hands of the rabbit. We have two dogs and three cats, and I think that's enough." He finishes.

"Well, can you go ask the girls if their rabbit got away?" I ask him.

He accedes, then eases back inside. Main Lady looks at me and whispers "I think it's a good thing you came with me." I just nod. I'm watching the house.

As odd as the man might be, the two girls that come squirting out the door are as normal as ever. Yes, they have a bunny rabbit and he escapes sometimes. We point to Centenarian's house on the other side of the fence and they agree to meet us there. We drive back, and find the bunny right where we left him. I go to the back yard and collect the girls, who in turn collect the bunny who's name is Rico.

Rico, I think. How about that.

Rico the Rabbit and Owner
Anyway, the kids were delighted to get him back, and the rabbit seemed happy enough. As for me, I'm thrilled to be done with the whole thing.

Hossenfeffer, I say.

My Life: Good News and Bad News

The good news is that Migraine One left town without saying goodbye and is now safely back in Granola Land. I know this because she called me and tried to have a conversation which I cut short because Main Lady was serving me dinner. Migraine One was miffed at coming in second place to dinner and a movie - C'est la vie, as the French would say.

Today I attacked the leaves in Main Lady's front yard. Main Lady's home is surrounded by oak trees which is very nice three seasons out of four. This year we have a bumper crop of acorns and leaves. So it's out with the leaf blower and into the front yard while Main Lady is out doing something with Centenarian. Things do not go along as smoothly as planned. For one thing both rakes are broken, and these are the two I bought a few years ago. They were the real nice wide kind, light and easy to work with. The handles came off on both, and I do not have the time, materials and temperament to fix them. That leaves me with a metal broom rake with most of the metal tines gone. I suppose it's better than nothing.

I started with the rake, but after an hour I gave in and finally braved the cluttered hell of the tool shed to retrieve the leaf blower - a fancy one with all kinds of attachments. I untangled the extension cord, set everything up and started moving leaves. Then - nothing.

My first clue that something was wrong was the delicate odor of burned insulation, which I chose to ignore. Next was the wisp of smoke coming out of the motor. Probably a little dust on the rotor or something, I thought. Then the damned thing quit and would not be revived. It was dead right there (DRT).

Half Raked Yard
The sane thing to do at this point would have involved a leisurely lunch, whiskey and a nap afterward. I entertained that thought while looking at the yard. Why does a partially cleared yard look worse than one that hasn't been cleared at all? I tried calling Main Lady on her cell to explain the demise of her leaf blower and advise her on my buying a new one, but she wouldn't answer. She does this on purpose. Plus, if I go out and buy a leaf blower she is just as likely to want the thing as not want it, it being the wrong color or being poorly rated by Consumer Reports. I shrugged off my neurotic thoughts and stowed everything in the garage, although I was tempted to leave the now-defunct leaf blower outside where someone would steal it. So it's jump in the car and drive off to Wally World.

Leaves Need Raking
Say what you want about American jobs leaving for China and Walmart ruining the economy, and I do not give a tinker's damn. Thirty minutes and 45 dead presidents later I had a nice new leaf blower with the same features as the old one and I was back working on the front lawn, and the only complication I had was an old lady who tried to hold me up on my way out, asking for my receipt. I told her it was in my pocket and kept walking. I wasn't offended; she was just doing her job, trying to earn a few bucks and if I hadn't been carrying the leaf blower I'd have stopped and showed her my receipt. I mean, we're all in this together, and if this lady can turn a few extra bucks at Wally World, who am I to give her a hard time?

New Leaf Blower
I attacked the leaves again and made about two hours of progress before being interrupted again, this time by the dog sounding a call to general quarters. A (maybe) teen age boy had ridden up on his bicycle and ignored me in favor of the front door bell, which activated the dog. I shut off the leaf blower to see what was up.

It turned out that the young entrepreneur was looking for Mrs. Main Lady, he being Main Lady's regular lawn service boy, and he wanted to see if Main Lady wanted her lawn mowed. I advised him in the affirmative, but suggested that the leaves needed immediate attention. He told me he'd be back with a rake. I decided not to hold my breath on this one and continued working.

Lawn Boy Evidence
 About a half hour later the boy is back, this time with overnight supplies and a rake. Yippee, I think, time for a little R&R. I wanted to retire to the TV room, but nothing will satisfy Excellent Rachmaninoff except for a dog walk. Naturally the dog wants to eat the lawn boy, but I dissuaded him. After the dog walk, I retired to the TV room with a sandwich and two fingers of Johnnie Walker Black Label... and the doorbell rings, activating the dog. I send the dog to his place and order a sit-stay. It's the lawn boy.

"Is it okay if I come back later? My tarp has a hole in it and I have to get another tarp."

"No problem, kid." I say with the jolly good humor of someone who has a solution. "We've got a tarp in the shed you can use."

"You want me to use the tarp in the shed?" Clearly, there is some incredulity here but I don't know why.

"Sure thing. I'll get it out for you." I'm helpful if nothing else. I get the big blue plastic tarp from the shed and hand it over to Main Lady's lawn boy, who seems strangely reluctant. Then I come back and release the dog, telling him what a great dog he is and giving him a dog cookie. I'm not quite halfway through my Johnnie Walker when the doorbell rings, activating the dog. I send the dog to his place and order a sit-stay. It's the lawn boy. Again.

"Does Mrs. Main Lady want the leaves raked down to the curb?"

I reassure him that Mrs. Main Lady will be ecstatically happy to have the leaves raked down to the curb and piled on top of the leaves that are already at the curb, waiting for the city leaf pick up to come and collect them. Thus reassured, the lawn boy returns to the hell of manual labor whilst Mad Jack tries to attain Nirvana through enjoyment of nutrients and first class booze, but not before releasing the dog and reassuring the dog the he is, in fact, the smartest dog in the entire city and bolstering the praise with a dog cookie.

I sip my Johnnie Walker, reflecting on the ingenuity of mankind. Truly the perfection of such a thoroughly refreshing elixir is conclusive evidence of civilization as we should know it, and if people would only spend a little more time drinking and listening, there would be less bickering among politicians... the doorbell rings, activating the dog. I send the dog to his place and order a sit-stay. Who do you suppose this could be? It's the lawn boy. Again.

"Um, I was wondering - can I come back and finish tomorrow?" He wants to know. Why is he even asking me this? Am I his keeper or something?

"What time tomorrow?" This is an old management trick. If you don't know what to say, ask questions. The kid responds with an elaborate shrug.

"Okay, morning or afternoon?" I'm persistent.

"Afternoon!" This is a definite answer, and the implication is: not morning. Anything but morning.

"Okay... what time tomorrow afternoon?" Again with the shrug.

"One o'clock?" I expect the kid to say something on the order of four o'clock, but I'm surprised when he agrees to one.

"Good enough. See you at one." I start to close the door, but the kid isn't done yet.

"Do you want me to put the tarp back in the shed?" He asks, deadpan.

"Yes, thanks. I'd like that." I say, deadpanning right back although I think it's a waste of time. The kid strikes me as not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. But then, he's out raking leaves and earning a few bucks, so that's a real plus in his favor. Shows he has character or something. We'll see if he ever shows up again, one o'clock or not.

I release the dog and reinforce his training with praise and a dog cookie, which is important. If you don't tell the dog when he does something right, he'll stop doing it and substitute a different behavior. Knowing the dog's proclivities, I can almost guarantee I will not be happy with the substitution.

So naturally when I get settled in again the phone rings. It's Main Lady and she has some type of emergency.

"Jack, there's a bunny in my mom's front yard."

Who was that said there's no rest for the wicked?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Life: The Boneyard, Part 2

My intention was to write about this escapade in three parts. I've published Part 1 here for anyone who would care to read it. Picking my way among the weeds and debris, I found a Chevrolet Cavalier rag-top in arrest me red that has clearly seen better days. Too bad.

Abandoned Chevy

License Tag
The expiration on the plates would make it likely that the car has been sitting here since September of 2007 - about three years for those of you with a Toledo public school education. I didn't stop to examine the car, but I would suspect that the problem might be in the engine or drive train which would make it both expensive and difficult to fix. I remember one fellow I worked with some years ago who loaned his car to a co-worker. The engine overheated and the silly bitch continued to drive it until the inevitable happened. She claimed that she didn't know what the red idiot light meant by 'hot'. Although I didn't say anything at the time, I wondered how someone could be so completely fucking ignorant. Naturally she couldn't afford a new engine for the car and there was little promise of ever getting it fixed otherwise, so it was off to the boneyard.

Ohio Plate
I have no idea as to what year this car is or who owned it. Although I didn't examine the car closely, outwardly it seems like it could be fixed up and made road worthy again. I could see a 14 year old boy buying it and putting two years of sweat into the body and interior, thus giving himself a nice car by the time he turned 16. I think it's possible that the owner always promised himself that he'd get the car fixed someday, but one way or another that day never quite rolled around. Ah, well...

Being a curious sort, I wonder who it was registered to. Anyone have any ideas on how to find out?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Elections for November 2010

The election's over and now all we have to do is wait for the dust to settle, which may take some time. As is typical of politics in the U.S. of A. the winners are not content with a small victory celebration and a new office (or new carpeting for the old office), but must grind the loser's collective mugs into the lawn. The losers bitterly resent this treatment but don't dare say what they are really thinking, or at least they don't dare say what they're thinking publicly. I've always wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a failed election. Does the campaign manager run off and hide somewhere until the candidate has had a chance to cool off? Is there a thoroughly beneath notice lackey that slips a few Xanax into the candidate's consolatory martini? Or does the staff just pounce on the hapless candidate and duct tape her to the chair until the screaming and threats have stopped?

Then the media gets involved and makes predictions of prosperity beyond measure due to the winners now occupying the office thanks to the wisdom of the voting public, coupled with the decline and final termination of civilization as we should have known it due to the winners now occupying the office thanks to the stupidity and ignorance of the voting public. This kind of reporting used to be difficult, but practice clearly makes for a faster hundred yard dash, clarity be damned.

I only had a few horses in this race. John Kasich (R) managed to beat incumbent Ted Strickland (D) in the race for the Governor's mansion. I wanted Strickland because of his stand on the Second Amendment, but the economy in Ohio is a complete shambles and Ted didn't do much to fix it, so I'm not terribly disappointed that Ted gets a time out while his staff packs up for moving day. Too bad, Ted.

Rich Iott (R) lost to incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D), which is not a big surprise. Kaptur's been around a long time, but that's not why she won this election. It seems that Iott likes to dress up as a Nazi on weekends and re-enact WWII encounters of one sort or another, and this bears looking at a little bit.

When I was but a mere sprout we used to play army. We'd be the Americans and kill imaginary Japs and Krauts by the thousands. We'd kill Hitler several times every afternoon, awarding the designated marksman with various medals made of solid gold. We were the good guys, you see. We won the war and had stories from our fathers to prove it. My best friend's father was an Army Master Sargent and got to drive a tank around and shoot at the enemy. How cool is that? The thing was, none of us wanted to be the Germans (Nazis, Krauts, Bosch or Jerrys) or the Japanese (Japs, Nips or Slanty Eyed Devils). They were the enemy, but it wasn't until much later that I learned what the Nazis actually did that made them so completely despised.

I have no objection to civil war reenactors wearing blue or gray. I could comfortably wear either uniform and win or lose heroically. Likewise I would cheerfully be a redcoat and give the Colonial terrorists a hard time of it. But dress up and pretend to be a Nazi? No. I wouldn't dress like a Nazi any more than I'd put on a bed sheet and a dunce cap and pretend to be a member of the KKK.

The Republicans (AKA the Stupid Party) either didn't know about Iott's noisome hobby or didn't care. In the first instance I contend that any political party too stupid or lazy to conduct a thorough background investigation and discover Iott's proclivities for Nazism desperately needs a change in management, and by that I mean a complete turnover of the top three levels. In the second instance I suggest that the Stupid Party enroll in a few remedial history courses dealing with World War II, said classes to be taught by one or more professors of history that are not concerned with politically correctness, after which time they should decide whether or not they are fit to lead a nation the size of the United States.

The bottom line here is that there are some perfectly legal activities that a political leader shouldn't do, and being a weekend Nazi is one of them. So long, Iott. Fade back into obscurity and trouble us no more.

On a cheerier note, George Sarantou (R) edged out Carol Contrada (D) for Lucas County Commissioner. I'm glad Mr. Sarantou won, but that means the Sylvania Township is stuck with Contrada until the next election when we can vote her out of office. My objection to Contrada is based largely on her support of the merger between the city of Sylvania and Sylvania Township. The merger was defeated by Township voters.

Although I couldn't vote for him, Randy Gardner (R) beat Jackie Brown (D) in the sixth district. Mr. Gardner is an excellent legislator and we need more people like him in office.

Finally (as I have some pressing business to take care of this morning) the Sylvania school levy was defeated, which is a huge relief to me. The school system claims it needs an additional 4.9 mills or the world will end. See you in the afterlife!