Sunday, July 31, 2011

Range Report: Sporting Clays at Black Wing

Last week I received the following email from my brother Big Mike:
I just found out that Blackwing shooting center has a SPORTING CLAYS course. I went shooting this evening (pistol, that is) and got a tour of the clays course. I NEED to shoot the course. My plan is to do so next weekend (the 30th/31st). You want to come down and join me?
What could I do? When your brother needs to shoot a sporting clays course, you cannot in all good conscience allow him to face this challenge alone and unobserved.  So on Saturday morning I threw all my gear along with a change of clothing into the trunk, put my jalopy under me and headed South for a shotgun holiday.

I've written about Black Wing before as a notable part of a Columbus Road Trip, but the sporting clays section is brand new to Black Wing, and the course is impressive.  The Black Wing sporting clays course is fifty shots over ten stands, with each stand displaying a very well thought out scenario.  Every stand features between four to six birds launched in report pairs or natural pairs.  For those not familiar with the terms, a report pair means that a single clay pigeon is launched and as soon as the shooter discharges his firearm the second target is launched.  A natural pair is when both clay pigeons are launched simultaneously.  If you're up to it you can run the course in reverse once you reach station 10 and turn it into a 100 shot course.

Black Wing Sporting Clays Course as Seen From the Parking Lot
I admit that I doubted that Black Wing could construct a decent sporting clays course, but I should have known better.  Black Wing has received a five star rating from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and clearly they are not going to do anything to drop that rating to four or even three stars by putting together a poor quality range.  The photo above is taken from the parking lot.  The two cars are about twenty feet from me.  In the middle ground are the skeet fields.  Beyond the skeet fields is an open field, and in the background you will see a line of trees.  The sporting clays course is in that tree line.

Here is a typical shooting stand.  Range rules dictate that you load your musket once you're in the stand and not before.  Before you leave the stand you must unload your musket, one way or another.

Typical Stand
Stand Electronics
You must get a card at the shooting store before you can shoot the range.  You put the card in the reader (shown here with the card inserted in the reader, just under the LCD) and the equipment counts the birds to the card.  Interestingly if the catapult malfunctions and doesn't throw a bird, no bird is counted.  There must be some sort of sensing device on the catapult, although we didn't examine the equipment closely nor did we pester the staff with a lot of questions.  We only had two instances of a malfunction in the hundred shots.

Station Directions
Every station has a set of directions as to what to expect, which is nice.  You also get to see one bird from each catapult before you have to humiliate yourself shooting at them.  Hey, no sense in not postponing the inevitable, right?  I remember station six because it was difficult and I shot a little better than I expected.

Station 8 - Four Easy Shots
Station 8 is two report pairs flying overhead and out into the field - and safety.  This particular shot is an inevitable scenario on any sporting clays field, and I was glad to find it here.  Any shot-gunner can learn to hit this one in a few tries, as the birds are flying high, directly away from you.  All you need to do is aim under them and remember to keep your barrel moving while you shoot.  I got two out of four, I think.

Bad Luck Station
I wasn't going to include this station, but Big Mike made a disparaging comment about Excellent Rachmaninoff's behavior and ancestry, so here it is.  Big Mike didn't get any of the birds on this particular stand - missed 'em all.  If he'd learn to be nicer to Excellent Rachmaninoff he'd likely have hit a few.

Trap and skeet shooters who are any good at all will have a very humbling experience on this course, particularly trap shooters (who are an anti-social bunch anyway, but what do you expect?).  I shot 33 out of 50, which is a very respectable score.  I think if I had the energy to shoot the course again I'd do better, but not a lot better.  This is an enjoyable course to shoot and combines easy shots with hard ones in a nicely balanced course.  Every experienced shot-gunner who shoots this course should get something - maybe not everything, but something.

Shooting this sporting clays course comes with a few caveats.  First of all, more than half the course is in full sunlight, and this time of year that translates into heat.  I was wearing light clothing, SPF 48 sunscreen and a light hat with a full brim and I still felt the heat.  By the time we hit station 10 I was soaked and Big Mike was feeling the heat.  I suggest you dress to protect yourself from the sun.  Secondly, although there is water located along the course, you should bring your own potables in the form of Gatorade or something similar and have a drink at each station.  Finally, the path connecting the shooting stations is made of rough cut stone, which is no problem if you're wearing hard soled hiking boots (like Mike) but is a major pain in the feet if you're wearing tennis shoes, like I did.  By the the time I got to station 10 I was truly regretting the thought of walking back to the car, parked on the far side of station 1.  Walking that path was painful.

Speaking of the car, when you drive out to the course and park, be sure to park closer to the highway than to the sporting clays course.  Although it is very unlikely, bird shot can reach the parking lot from the course and you'll want your car parked away from the falling shot.

All in all, this is a great sporting clays course.  Even if Big Mike didn't live in Dublin, Ohio I'd make the drive down to Delaware in order to play the course.  I'd just plan for an early start and a long day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Life: Dog Problems

Here's a picture of Excellent Rachmaninoff. Main Lady calls him Rocky but I have always maintained that he is much too important and sophisticated to be a mere Rocky. I don't know what his preferences are, as he's having trouble learning to speak coherently.  Certain vowels are a real challenge for him.

Excellent Rachmaninoff

The thing is, I think Rachmaninoff has a screw loose somewhere.  Main Lady took him to the veterinarian's office this morning for his annual check up, and he got all the dogs in the waiting room stirred up by trying to play, then he crapped on the rug and finished up by trying to bite the vet, Doctor Tryharder.  He was perfectly okay with the receptionist behind the barricade and he seemed okay with the technicians who got his blood sample, but as soon as Doctor Tryharder came within range it was bite now, growl later.  Main Lady and the technician put a muzzle on him which Doctor Tryharder had a childlike faith in, and he damned near nailed her again.  If it wasn't for the vet's quick reactions Rachmaninoff would have scored.  They had to get a different muzzle for him which he did not like in the slightest.  The only positive things that came out of this visit occurred when the vet asked for a stool sample and Main Lady gave her a nice fresh one, and again when the results of all the tests came back okay, proving that Main Lady has a disgustingly healthy dog.

I can't find a rhyme or reason to his people preferences.  Main Lady boards him at Karnik Pet Lodge and they all think he's wonderful.  He likes all the handlers at Karnik no matter their sex, size, race, religious persuasion, sexual orientation or immigration status.  He hates Main Lady's neighbors Machine Shop Sam and his Sam's wife Ethel, both of whom have tried and failed to make friends with him on numerous occasions.  He loves Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.  He also loves Centenarian.  He tolerates Que Bee One, but he doesn't like Ding Bat at all.  I'll give him a pass on Ding Bat - trust me on this one.  You see, Ding Bat loves cats, and I don't just mean that she likes them in the same way I like my cat Dante.  I mean that she's nuts about cats.  Cat pictures, cat jewelry, cat clothing, cat furniture, cat wallpaper, cat clocks - you name it.  All her greeting cards have the feline theme to them.  One time when she was looking for a job I, without thinking, suggested she try a cat house.   Main Lady wouldn't speak to me for about three hours, then I discovered I was getting the silent treatment.  Well, how was I to know?  It isn't like this kind of thing is announced.

Anyway, I haven't found a good dog whisperer anywhere in the Toledo, Ohio area, but even without a dog whisperer Excellent Rachmaninoff is getting better.  I was walking him the other day and he saw a nice pride of human kids and he didn't try to run the slowest one down and savage it.  That's real progress.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baseball: Mud Hens vs. Tides

I like baseball.  I especially like baseball at Fifth-Third Field, which is one of the nicest ball fields I've ever been to.  Last night I watched the Toledo Mud Hens try to pound the snot out of the Norfolk Tides. The Mud Hens lost, but they could have won this one.  Uncle Sardonicus got the tickets and as usual scored some really good seats.  I hate trying to watch a game from the nose bleed section.

Bases Loaded
 At the bottom of the fourth the Hens loaded the bases, mainly due to the Tides pitcher royally screwing the pooch.  The Hens had three men on base and no outs, making the Tides pitcher wonder just what it was he'd done to piss off the Almighty.

Thorman Up to Bat
I had some real hope that Thorman would put one over the Budweiser sign.  He had the right attitude and a good average - hey, if you don't like .234 then let me ask you: when was the last time anyone asked you to play triple-A ball?
Over the fence!  Over the fence!
Sadly, this was not to be.  Thorman fouled two pitches off, one of which went into the parking lot behind the stadium.  He had plenty of power behind the swing, but the Tides pitcher found some kind of second wind.

Dishing it Up
Mitch Atkins pitched most of the game, and although he'd managed to get himself into this position (bases loaded, no outs) I'll give the man credit.  He got himself out - three times.  I think Thorman should have given up on the grand slam and just tried for a hot grounder.  The Tides would likely get Thorman out at first base but the Hens would have gotten another run in.  Besides that, with the bases loaded they might have tried to get the ball back to their catcher instead of trying to get Thorman out at first, and I don't think they were up to a play like that.  Atkins struck out two more batters and I decided to get some ice cream.

Ice Cream Stand
This is Toft’s Dairy, staffed by mentally challenged senior citizens in front and disorganized soccer moms in back.  I waited for five minutes and the line didn't move, nor was anyone leaving with ice cream.  I would have left except that I promised myself I'd bring Mom a hot fudge sundae and surprise her, so I stayed.  And stayed.  And then stayed some more, patiently waiting for the staff to stop tripping over each other and get organized, which they failed to do.  What a bunch of clowns.

By the time I ordered the place had run out of vanilla, so I asked for chocolate instead.  I don't know what they put in my sundae, but it wasn't regular chocolate ice cream.  It was some sort of concoction that tasted like Nestle's Quick combined with a ground up sponge.  The portion was small and it was over priced.  This is the only vendor I've found at Fifth Third Field that I will stay away from in the future.

I returned in time to catch Muddy and some other blue thing cavorting around on the field.  I have no idea what the blue thing is or what it's supposed to be.  All I can say is that the usual entertainment games were not up to the usual standards.

Mysterious Blue Thing
The Public Address (P.A.) system was turned up too loud.  Imagine that you're sitting back, pleasantly relaxing over your second beer and watching the game.  You lean over to tell Uncle Sardonicus to stop tormenting his wife (who is sitting in front of us by now) and the stupid announcer drowns out all conversation, background music and coherent thought as he blasts some stupid trivia at you.  Message to announcer: Shut up.   What an ass.

If the Mud Hens would just listen to Uncle Sardonicus, we'd have a brief assault and battery incident.  Okay, wait... they'd win the game.  But they won't, likely because Uncle Sardonicus is being drowned out by the announcer.  Maybe it's just as well.

In spite of my bad experience at Toft’s Dairy (which gets a zero in customer service and a zero in food quality) I had a great time at the ball game.  If you haven't been to Fifth Third Field, I suggest you call in sick at work and go see the Mud Hens play.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cost of a Criminal Trial, Revisited

Back in November of 2010 I was inspired by Jeff Gamso to write Cost of a Criminal Trial, where I referred to the trial of the serial killer Anthony Sowell.  At that time (November 2010) the cost of the trial was at $185,000 and going up like a sky rocket.  Well, what do you expect?

On Thursday, July 21 I read that:
Sowell’s trial holds the record for the most expensive publicly funded criminal defense in county history, with a cost to taxpayers of nearly $600,000.
from Deliberations continue in case of serial-killings defendant Anthony Sowell. That's right.  Six hundred grand just to prove this worthless son of a bitch is a murderer.  And the fun doesn't stop there, oh hell no.  Sowell will likely get the death penalty.  Actually, I don't see any way that Sowell can't get the death penalty given the amount of media coverage this case is getting.  And then, especially since Cleveland is almost as dead broke as Detroit, we the people get to spend even more money while Sowell's case is appealed several times over the next twenty years, and we get to support Sowell while he sits on death row during these appeals, and then we get to hear all about how the Governor of the State of Ohio either commutes the sentence to life without possibility of parole or not, whereupon Sowell will have one more brief moment in the spotlight while he's either released into the prison's general population or executed in whatever manner the State has adopted twenty years from now.  By the time the whole process is finished, I bet the State will have spent over one million dead presidents just to put an unrepentant serial killer out of our misery.  That's $1,000,000 that we could have used to teach grade school children to read, preserve green space, provide low interest loans to college students attending medical school, clean up the environment (yeah, like Cleveland doesn't need that) or even send a State Senator down to Dallas, Texas for a red hot weekend with a hundred dollar an hour hooker.  Lock up your guns, boys - Sherrod Brown's in town!

Consider the Sowell case for just a minute.  How long does it take to enter a plea of not guilty?  Literally, five minutes at most.  Fifteen at the outside.  All you have to do is stand in front of a judge and answer one question.  After that the next question goes to the persecutor prosecutor.  If the death penalty is on the table, then two questions have to be answered before anyone goes any further with the case.  One, is the defendant legally insane; and Two, is the defendant retarded.  I don't know or can't remember the politically correct term for being retarded - sue me.  You see, the government of the United States will not execute a retarded person, nor will it execute a legally insane person.  I have no argument with that.  So even if the State picks up the tab for the necessary evaluations (which is the way it should be), and discovers that Sowell is either nuts or a retard, the death penalty comes off the table before the trial even begins.  But let's say Sowell is not nuts, and is not a retard.  Then the only question that remains is obvious, but in this case it cost us over half a million to conclude that, yes, in fact, this same Sowell that kept the remains of eleven dead women in and around his home is guilty of murder in the first degree - how much guiltier can this no good son of a bitch be?

I would like to revisit Bubba, Sissy and Joe who are joined by their friends Donny-Ray and Amanda-June down at The Silver Spur, having their third round of boiler makers.  Ask them about six hundred grand and you'll eventually get one or all of them to admit they cannot imagine just what you or anyone would do with that much money.  That's a sobering thought and would call for another round to start the party back up again.  Keep asking and Amanda-June will inform you somewhat peevishly that, "You're a real downer to be around, you know that?"  Explain that you're just trying to make sense out of it all - you know, spending six hundred grand on the trial of a serial killer who's as guilty as all that - and you'll get some good old country insight, likely from Bubba who is easily the most lucid of the group.

"Sheee-it, it's the guv-ment.  It don't have to make sense.  See?"

Then there will be a chorus of agreement all around.  It's the government, naturally it won't make any sense to anyone like you or me.  Just what do you expect, anyway?  Hell, we've all got too much damned common sense to understand somethin' like the guv-ment!  Too damned honest, too.

The thing is, Bubba is on to something.  Anthony Sowell is obviously a serial killer, obviously guilty.  He's been declared legally sane and competent to stand trial.  Just how the government ended up spending six hundred grand on the trial is beyond me, but the government should not have spent the money.  Sowell falls into that rare class of people that are bad enough to be taken out and shot.  I still advocate that the firing squad is the best and simplest method of execution.  The method has a lot going for it; it's sufficiently ceremonial, it's quick and there are no survivors.  Any government that will spend six hundred grand trying a criminal of Sowell's stature and force we the people to cover the cost is fully capable of putting together a firing squad and circumventing the legal system just long enough to assemble the firing squad and the criminal for the necessary amount of time to produce a dead body and an end to the spending.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Life: I'm Affirmed

A short time back I wrote about an inflammatory racial slur I discovered on a site I sometimes frequent.  You may peruse my ravings at Applied Freedom of Speech as it may amuse you to do so.  Today I discovered a contribution to the site in question by Mad Anthony (read it here) who thoughtfully provided a link to an article by Anil Dash, entitled (as they say over there) If Your Website's Full Of Assholes, It's Your Fault.  Anil makes a much better argument than I do, at least in some ways.  Since he admits to living in New York city, he probably doesn't support the second amendment or own a gun of any kind.  Hell, since he lives in NYC he doesn't really have the second amendment the way I do.  I won't hold that against him, and just to prove a point I'd be willing to take him to the range for a shoot and buy him a round or two afterwards. 

Anyway, it's nice to find some small amount of affirmation for my rants.  Good job, Mad Anthony.  Good job, Anil.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grammer Across the Pond

I was browsing around at Bayou Renaissance Man and followed a link to the BBC News. It seems we in the good old U.S. of A. have been invading England, strictly on the Q.T.  As a result of our stealthy infiltration the Limeys over at the BBC News compiled a short list of grievances: Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples. Being a true diplomat at heart, I decided to see if I could get anything started with some commentary by a typical Mid-Westerner, namely Yours Truly, Mad Jack.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire
That's 'Central Park' Steve, not 'Central Perk'. The phrase means ability or possibility, not permission. If I'm asking the question, "Can I get a load of stable dressing from someone like you?" I'm asking if you're able to deliver.
2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall
They're likely a graduate of a public school somewhere and have trouble expressing themselves. Either provide a grammatically correct alternative or get over yourself. Or both.
3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath
Yeah, like, for instance, two-time loser instead of, what, double loser? Then we're treated to your own brand of the King's English 'totally lost'. One can total a column of integers. The word you were fumbling for is 'completely', as in 'completely lost'.
4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester
It comes from signage, which seeks to maximize information in the available space. Sure, we could say that you're uptight twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but it's easier and faster to use twenty-four seven. We do it to piss you off - 24/7.
5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland
Try saying 'disembark' to a plane load of angry fliers, and when half of them have a question mark over their heads and block the other half from getting off the plane, you get to deal with the air rage.
6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand
Okay, I can agree with this one. I've never heard it, but I'll agree with it.
7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US
Exactly. The speaker means he has no more to say on the subject, but rather than argue with an uptight, anal retentive Lime Juicer about the King's English, he looks you straight in the eye and delivers this end of conversation phrase. If you're hearing it a lot, you ought to be used to it by now.
8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada
Go ahead and mention it. It's also called a butt pack. Again with the uptight people - just what the hell do Canadians sit on when they're watching Hockey? Their hands?
9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK
The meaning is clear and I see nothing wrong with it. It's a figure of speech in the U.S. of A.
10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US
Yes. It's a noun, defined as "the physical attributes of a person, especially when overdeveloped or overemphasized."
11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US
Well, nothing really. The words aren't interchangeable, each having its own meaning. That said, 'transport' is a perfectly fine word.
12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester
Yes, I agree. It's a biz-weenie, corporate weasel-speak buzz word and the meaning changes with time, context and emphasis.  Don't trust anyone who uses that phrase, as more often then not they are trying to extend their contract for no good reason.
13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all "turn" 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as "turning" 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon
It hasn't obliterated anything, Michael. You don't use it and neither do your friends.
14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow
Unless you're in San Francisco, we here in the U.S. of A. don't have trolleys anymore. They went the way of the dodo bird, the passenger pigeon and the tea tax. Go down South and you'll hear your cart referred to as a buggy. Try that one on and see how it suits you.
15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington
It's a past participle of 'get'. Keep shuddering, I'm not finished yet.
16. "I'm good" for "I'm well". That'll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales
Try saying "It's all good" and see where that gets you. While you're quite correct, I don't think you'll get far with your objection to the misuse.
17. "Bangs" for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham
Meaning 'hair cut straight across the forehead' since 1878. Get used to it.
18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester
No one uses takeaway in the U.S. of A., mainly because to 'take away' implies theft.
19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? "That statement was the height of ridiculosity". Bob, Edinburgh
You're quite correct and very astute, despite your residence - or maybe because of it.  In fact, I'd like to buy you a beer.  What's you favorite pub in Edinburgh?
20. "A half hour" instead of "half an hour". EJB, Devon
Both are correct, although I generally say 'half an hour' as in 'half an hour from now I'm going to have a manhattan.'
21. A "heads up". For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a "heads up" on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough
Any fool knows that you don't have a heads up, you give one or command one. For instance I might say, "Here's a heads up on the new inventory system that the boneheads in I.T. installed last week." Or if I were manuevering a large domestic animal through a group of pedestrians all of whom were gazing at the floor in search of loose change, I might say, "Heads up! Heads up!" so as to avoid running over them. If anyone is telling you it means something else, they're yanking your chain.
22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London
What do you mean, who started it? We started it if you didn't, and we finished it. It's a train station, ace. Not a ballet class or a boiler factory - train station. Get it?
23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to "alphabetize it" - horrid! Chris Fackrell, York
And just what else is it? Eighty-sixed? Get a life.
24. People that say "my bad" after a mistake. I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire
They also say things like, "Oh, this is so my bad." and "It's all good." The real stumbling block for me was when I head one sweet young thing explain that "I am so not trying to be difficult." I had to think that one through a few times before I understood it. Bring back nasty tempered old English teachers and corporal punishment.
25. "Normalcy" instead of "normality" really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield
It refers to the condition of being normal and it began around 1860. It's time you got over it.
26. As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but "burglarize" is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans
The usage goes back to 1875, and if that's the only issue you have in New Orleans you're in great shape. Stop bitching about stuff and have a hurricane.
27. "Oftentimes" just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I've not noticed it over here yet. John, London
You will. Just give it time.
28. Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)
Slang for a restaurant or chophouse. An eaterie on wheels is a roach coach. I fail to see just why this would bother you, as the meaning is clear to everyone else.
29. I'm a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York
You are? You have my sympathies. My cousin lives in New York - maybe you know her, 88? No matter. Look Sir Limey, no one in New York knows what a fortnight is, let alone what fortnightly might be. By contrast, everyone knows the length of a week, hence bi-weekly is easy to figure out.
30. I hate "alternate" for "alternative". I don't like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it's useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London
Yeah, I don't like it either. Just correct them and move on; they're ignorant.
31. "Hike" a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington
No, it means people who do that are minimum wage slaves, sharp as a marble and every bit as honest and compassionate as the average U.S. politician.
32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock
So go sideways instead. It sounds like you're headed in that direction anyway.
33. I hate the word "deliverable". Used by management consultants for something that they will "deliver" instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
Ask them just what it is they're going to deliver and when. Meanwhile I strongly suggest you remember the scum sucking contractor's (management consultants) credo: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
34. The most annoying Americanism is "a million and a half" when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry
Still more bread than you're ever going to see, Gordo. Hey, it's his money, he can talk about it any way he wants.
35. "Reach out to" when the correct word is "ask". For example: "I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient". Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can't we just ask him? Nerina, London
You nailed it. Last time some yo-yo told me he'd reach out to someone the whole thing was a train wreck and he turned out to be a real jack wagon.  Little wonder, as the yo-yo was in HR and was trying to move up the corporate ladder.
36. Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. Michael Zealey, London
It isn't. It's 'math'. As in, 'You do the fuckin' math, you think you're so smart.'
37. I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green
Blame the butterfly boys in marketing. No one can get a medium size anything anymore - it's all lage, extra large, grande, or gut buster. You're showing your age, Hurst.
38. My worst horror is expiration, as in "expiration date". Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London
We don't have expiry. It isn't over here, so fuhgedaboutit.
39. My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish". This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. James, Somerset
I think this is likely a Freudian deal. We like to drink over in the U.S. of A. In fact if it weren't for the absolutely heaven sent ale, beer, liquor and other delectable potables we get from you folks across the pond, we'd likely not be on speaking terms. But for me, I figure that any civilization that can invent Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale has got to be worlds ahead of whom ever is in second place.  I'm Scotch-Limey, by the way.
40. I am increasingly hearing the phrase "that'll learn you" - when the English (and more correct) version was always "that'll teach you". What a ridiculous phrase! Tabitha, London
It isn't. It comes from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, spoken by Tom when he trounces another boy.
41. I really hate the phrase: "Where's it at?" This is not more efficient or informative than "where is it?" It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating. Adam, London
Yep. It's a Southern expression and should be stricken.
42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland
What possible difference can you see here? The chance of misuse is slim to none full stop
43. My pet hate is "winningest", used in the context "Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time". I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham
Okay, in defense I can only say that many sports announcers are retired players who were not hired for their communication abilities or their expertise in English grammar.
44. My brother now uses the term "season" for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh
Your brother is right. TV series are filmed in seasons, in the US anyway. But then we don't have public telly.
45. Having an "issue" instead of a "problem". John, Leicester
I don't like it either. I vividly remember one co-worker who was an expert on politically correct speech as well as being a journeyman in corporate weasel speak. Oftentimes I would request that she repeat herself, speaking slowly, so that I could translate as she spoke.  Even then I'd get it wrong half the time.
46. I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! Ross, London
That's how you say it, ace. Zee. As in Zebra, zeal and zero.
47. To "medal" instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset
I've never head it. Good luck with your grill.
48. "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free". You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? Mark Jones, Plymouth
Yes, for free. That is to say that I didn't have to pay for it - it was free. I got it for free. See?
49. "Turn that off already". Oh dear. Darren, Munich
It's actually, "Will you please get up off your lazy ass and turn that damned thing off already!" I agree with you, by the way. Incomplete statements are a sign of intellectual laziness, and therefore something to be avoided.
50. "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham
I correct this one all the time. These idiots aren't paying attention to their writing or what they're trying to say, and as a result the message is lost over their own ignorance. But there you have it, none the less.

My own personal vendetta is the phrase 'exact same', which is used to mean 'exactly the same' or, more correctly, 'identical'.  My second place vendetta is the non-word irregardless [read regardless].  Ignorant slobs.

Rant: Government and the Economy, Part II

I ranted and raved about our incompetent local government here, tying the entire rant into the closing of a local proprietorship - Thackery's bookstore.  Idly stumbling around the Internet I found a site listing independent alternatives to Borders Books.  Edward Champion, the author over at Reluctant Habits - a cultural website in ever-shifting standing, published a list of independent bookstores (AKA proprietorships, for any city council members who might be reading this) for cities that have a Borders bookstore.  Edward's efforts can be seen here, a List of Independent Alternatives to Closed Borders Bookstores. Perusing the list with the faint hope of finding an alternative to Barnes and Noble, I found - nothing.  The Borders bookstore in Toledo is closing and the only other alternative is B&N.

The local governments (Toledo and others) could have prevented this.  They didn't, mainly because the people that make up those governments are even more greedy than they are incompetent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stress Report

I had lunch with Main Lady today and provided a captive audience for a lecture she's giving later on.  For those who don't know, don't remember or don't care, Main Lady is a licensed clinical psychologist with a measurable success rate – a very unusual combination.  After we were seated and happily nursing our drinks (mine was diet coke, as I neither wanted nor needed a lecture about drinking before the sun is over the yard arm), Main Lady started her lecture.

“Are you paying attention?”  Main Lady asked rhetorically.

“Of course, my dear.  I'm always paying attention to you.  It's just that my mind tends to wander when I hear you rattling on and on about some kind of liberal stable dressing - ”

“Jack, come to heel.”

“Why don't you wait until the waitress takes our order.”  I suggested helpfully.

Which the waitress did, and promptly screwed up.  I put the mistake to rights and sat back in my very best 'ready to receive lecture' pose.  This is what I was able to glean.

Imagine that you have a clear glass jar in front of you with mixed dried beans in it.  About eleven different kinds of dried beans in equal amounts fill a third (or more) of the jar.  These beans represent your propensity to develop a mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disease.  When the beans spill out the top of the jar, you have become mentally ill.  Got it?

Now then.  Imagine you have a large pile of big, fat Lima beans in front of you.  Each Lima bean is a stress event, meaning that it's something that happens to you that causes stress.  So if I drop one Lima bean into the jar, I've caused stress.  Cause enough stress and the jar will fill up with Lima beans, and eventually you'll become mentally ill.

Stress events happen to us every day.  (At this point I thought about Beat and ReleaseMomma Fargo, Older SchoolGraveyard Dog and a host of others.  I decided not to argue about stress.  I am, after all, not all that dumb.)  Imagine you're a cave man (Hey!  No problem!  Just let me go shoot something for dinner, then come home to the cave for a little quality time.)  Stop interrupting.  Imagine you're a cave man and you are menaced by a tiger.  The menacing causes stress, so you have to deal with the problem, but you also have the additional problem of environment.  You don't have a big game rifle, so you must hide from the tiger, or find another way of dealing with it.  In another case we may get stressed out over traffic, and shooting the other driver wouldn't relieve our stress.  (It is at this point that I do myself a mischief trying to keep quiet.)  We have to find another way of dealing with it.

Getting back to the jar of beans, I'll put a lid on the jar, and the lid is full of little holes.  (All of which are .110 inches in diameter – coincidentally, the size of number six shot.)  The holes are large enough to allow mixed beans to enter the jar, but are too small to allow Lima beans – our stress beans – to pass through.  This lid is called a stress barrier.  For instance, if a man's wife dies we might have a man who has no one to help him through this crises, and so sits at home by himself trying to deal with the stress.  He has no barrier, so the Lima beans get into his jar and start building up to a mental illness.  Then there's the man whose wife dies, but who has a large circle of friends to help him, who belongs to a Church or various other organizations that will help him out.  That's his lid for his jar, and it keeps the jar from overflowing.  (Then there's the third option – the man who, upon learning of his dear wife's demise, gives a cartoon like woo-hoo! and books a SCUBA diving vacation in Belize.)

The point is that if you don't have a lid for your jar, either get one or go nuts.  See?

I haven't asked the obvious questions.  Like, for instance, what do you do when some moron kicks the lid off your twelve ounce jar and tips a fifty-five gallon drum of Lima beans into it.  Or what to do when a resident turkey, possibly not terribly bright, steals your lid and hides it in the name of fun and games at the office.  These things happen.

I write this little exercise in futility because I am under stress, and I have no lid in sight.  I'm convinced that the ignorant knucklehead behind me would stop tailgating if I flattened one or more of his tires with a .45, but I'm not convinced that the local constabulary would consider that action a justifiable use of potentially deadly force, and somehow that just isn't quite right – the jerk threatens me with his SUV and he (or she, soccer-moms love to tailgate) has no fear of reprisal.  I'm reminded of something that happened to Momma Fargo recently involving two assholes and a fishing boat that was blocking her driveway.  When asked to move their rig, one asshole decided to get mouthy and the other provided tacit approval.  Momma Fargo suggested a practical solution could begin by Momma putting two shots into the hull as a warning, and that solution appealed to me.  It still appeals to me, maybe a little more than usual.  These two bar flies could have apologized profusely, moved the boat and offered a fish dinner by way of compensation, but they didn't.  They wanted to get mouthy instead.  Two shots of the forty caliber brand later and they'd be moving the rig and changing their pants.  Serve them right.

One way or another, we've got too much law and order in our society.  This causes stress.  Now, who the hell stole the cork to my bottle?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rant: Government and the Economy

The Moonbats and the Wingnuts are going at it hammer and tongs in The Beltway.  The Anointed One is not helping the situation improve; Himself behaves like a twelve year old child that needs a severe talking to from his mother and, if that doesn't work, a trip to the woodshed from his father.  I believe that by the time a child reaches the age of 12 good behavior should be expected and a reprimand is all that's needed to correct bad behavior.  I could devote pages of criticism to this topic, but I won't.  It's been done before by curmudgeons that are far better at it than I, your humble host.  Instead I'll use this space to point out an example of just what is wrong with our economy and what wasn't done to fix it twenty years ago, when this entire train wreck could have been avoided.

In April of 1983, Thackeray's Books opened in the Westgate Village shopping center in Toledo, Ohio.  It was a nice, quiet place and the staff was friendly and helpful.  If you wanted a book on an obscure topic - for instance, the War of Polish Succession (which happened between the War of the Spanish Succession and the War of Austrian Succession) - the staff would locate the obscure war history expert who would find you three detailed texts guaranteed to enlighten you providing you could remain awake while reading them.  Thackeray's also had a full newsstand which I enjoyed and which is rare these days, although I think an actual news stand may have gone the way of the dodo bird while I wasn't looking.  Thackeray's was a proprietorship, and like the dodo, the thylacine and the quagga, Thackeray's was just waiting around for a group of people to make it extinct.  In May of 2005 Borders Books and Music of Ann Arbor, Michigan obliged.  Borders arrival was heralded by the local scandal sheet as the greatest thing since the last greatest thing... McDonald's.

The thing is, a store like Thackeray's is good for the local economy.  It's a proprietorship, so the money spent at Thackeray's remains in the local economy instead of leaving town to be used as fertilizer for the greener pastures we all see on the other side of the great divide.  Thackeray's was also concerned about providing a wide selection of books and about customer service.  You could find books from obscure small press publishers along with a plethora of self-published books, most of which were written by local ne'er-do-wells living in garrets.  Best of all was the fact that if you had a problem you could speak with the ultimate authority, the owner.  You might not like the result, but you could finally get rid of the authority and responsibility arguments that plague consumers today.  Borders Books will not provide high quality service and their inventory is made up of main stream press.  So, our service and choices got taken down a peg or two.  The argument that favored Borders hinged on cheaper products, cheaper prices and a larger store.  I'll give the owner of Thackeray's credit.  He knew he couldn't compete so he sold out, and I don't blame him.  He made the best deal he could and went fishing without an expectation of returning.

So what do I see in the Detroit Free PressBorders to Shut Down For Good After Deal Collapses.  From the article:

Borders Group, the 40-year-old retailer that started as a used bookstore in Ann Arbor, decided Monday to liquidate its remaining 399 stores, conceding a battle with competitors, technology and itself.
Borders was still growing its supply of massive superstores when people started shopping online. Then to replace lost book and music revenue, Borders started stocking more gifts, candy and impulse items. It also bought Paperchase stationery, stocking it in stores when e-mail had made handwritten letters a dying art.
The main battles were with on line shopping and themselves.  Consider the second quote about buying Paperchase Stationery.  I don't know which executive thought that one up or voted for it, but the number of hand written letters that were written on stationery that I received last year can be counted on one hand, and that's because Mom has not learned to use email.  If I discount Mom's letters, then things get easier to count.  In fact, I can count the number of hand written letters I've received over the past ten years without taking off my shoes.  Buying Paperchase Stationery was a great decision.  Trust me, I know these things.  So Borders is closing, and here's what really gets under my skin.

We, the Great Literate Unwashed, lost a bookstore when Borders opened up.  Now Borders is going to close and the bookstore we lost, Thackeray's, is still gone for good.  Tax revenue goes down and the quality of life goes down, and it did not have to happen this way.  The fatheads the are busy running the local governments into the sewer system could have told the big box stores to take a hike.  They didn't, and as a result our choices are limited to Barnes and Noble - another big box store that refuses to carry anything that isn't on the New York Times Best Seller List.

The same scenario is repeated many times in other industries, such as hardware, pharmacy, restaurant, home furnishings, fine jewelry - the list is extensive.  If we want a better economy, the one thing we do not need are small business franchise or chain stores.  We need proprietorships.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Life: Range Report.

Big Mike came to Toledo this weekend, and as usual we went out to the Bullet Stop to throw some lead. I think the proprietor and a few locals are starting to accept us now as peers - good, law abiding citizens who mind their own business.

I started off with my .22 Ruger and did pretty well. The target on the right shows 30 shots at 25 feet, and the one on the left is 30 shots at 50 feet. Keep in mind that my eyes are so bad I can barely see anything at 50 feet, let alone sights and a target.

.22 Ruger Results
Mike hauled out his Glock and displayed a new set of sights he bought, which are absolutely amazing.  Mike got Advantage Tactical Sights for his pistol, and I am truly impressed.

Advantage Tactical - Click to Zoom In
If you haven't seen or tried this system, I encourage you to do so.  The sights are extremely intuitive; you just put the front sight into the top of the pyramid and allow it to cover your target.  Here's a slightly better picture of the sights.

Advantage Tactical Sights
Although the company recommends that the sights be installed by a qualified gunsmith, the mandatory CYA statement is followed immediately by specific directions about how to install your own, which Mike followed with a good deal of success.

Advantage Tactical Kit
Advantage gives you several colors to choose from.  Mike chose green and yellow because it provides a slight advantage to older people - your eyes operate better in the green spectrum.  But if you're not old and decrepit you can have white on white, white on red... the colors provided are white, yellow, red, orange and green.

Here are my efforts with Mike's Glock.

Glock at 25 Feet
The low flyer was my fault.  I torched it off before I could stop myself.  The shot at twelve o'clock is my first, and the tight group are shots two, three and four.  After running a few more clips through it, Big Mike concluded that everything was going slightly off to the left and so adjusted the sights slightly, putting everything slightly high at 25 feet.  I can live with that.  If I ever decided to spend some money on improving my Ruger, I know what kind of sights I want.

I like Mike's Glock, which surprises me a little because I'm more of a traditionalist than most people.  To me, firearms in stainless steel look a little odd, but the synthetic grip and parts of a Glock are almost ugly looking.  For pure beauty, nothing beats the 1911 Mil Spec.

Betsy - Springfield 1911
There's something about the 1911 that says I mean business.  I put a few shots downrange and did pretty well, all things considered.

Shooting Betsy at 25 Feet
Here are my results, about one shot per second.  Not bad for an old man.

Anyone who shoots at the Bullet Stop will be happy to know that there is a new air conditioner in the range.  Big Mike helped install it, and I helped test it.  It works, but with this weather the range is still hotter than a five dollar pistol on Saturday night.

Latest Addition, Part II

In a concerted effort to bring peace to home and hearth, I have been drafted into the United Animal Peace Keeping Force. I am the non-secular department, otherwise known as the military.  Main Lady is the diplomatic and humanitarian department, and I think Cottontail will head up the MASH unit.

Our first casualty was Excellent Rachmaninoff, who was apprehended while creating a disturbance after lights out and is being held on charges of disorderly conduct, fleeing and evading and resisting arrest.

Rachmaninoff in the Hoosegow

Main Lady brought this portable jail home last night on the advice of Ding Bat, her younger and dumber sister in Florida.  The idea is that the military captures one feline and stuffs it into the cage, then captures the other feline and allows said feline to walk around outside the cage getting to know the feline inside the cage.  Positions will be reversed the following day.  Implementation necessitated early release of Excellent Rachmaninoff.  Having consumed my afternoon bourbon, this plan seemed sound to me.  After all, if you can't trust Ding Bat, who can you trust?  Hitlery Klinton?  Here we go...

Pumpkin, Outside the Cage
Excellent Rachmaninoff was confined to another area of the house.  Here is Pumpkin on the good side of the cage.

Ebony, Inside the Cage
Here we have Ebony, inside the cage.  Ebony didn't like this idea much as there is no place to hide and no where to run.  She did tip to the idea that Pumpkin couldn't get all that close to her, so she settled down to wait for the cage door to open.

Feline Diplomacy
I don't know if this is going to work or not.  All I know is that it requires minimal work on my part and if it all goes South, it wasn't my idea.  It was Ding Bat's idea.

Restaurant Review: Jenna's Mediterranean Restaurant

Jenna's Mediterranean Restaurant

5629 Main Street; Sylvania, Ohio
(419) 824-9996
Tues - Thur 11AM - 10PM; Sat 11AM - 11PM; Sun 9AM - 10PM
Parking in the Rear

Jenna's Mediterranean Restaurant is closed, which is what I thought would happen.  Read the review if you'd like to know why it closed up, but I predicted this would happen at some point.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Latest Addition

Very shortly after Main Lady lost Emma she acquired another cat, Pumpkin.  Pumpkin is friendly and generally well-behaved, and is supposed to get along well with dogs and other cats.  At least, that's what the people at the Vet's office assured us of when Main Lady wanted to adopt her.


How could you resist a little face like that?

Pumpkin Being Cute on the Stairs

Well, I'll tell you how.  First off, the people at the Vet's office lied about Pumpkin's affection for canines.  Over the past six months Pumpkin has not established a lasting friendship with Excellent Rachmaninoff, and to be just a little more accurate, a simple thing like a mutual non-aggression treaty seems to be well beyond Pumpkin's diplomatic skills, and that's saying something.  The result of all this is that Pumpkin lives upstairs behind Main Lady's version of the Berlin Wall, a structure that was somewhat ironically constructed by the German Democratic Republic, or GDS, that serves to keep fascist dogs out and lovable felines safe.  If I don't stop right now, I'm going to digress right into politics.  So -

About a month or so ago some relative of Dante's turned up on the front lawn and Main Lady fed her, then confessed what she'd done and denied any intention of ever taking the little cat inside.  I don't know just who she was trying to kid, but during the recent Independence Day holiday the three little darlings were in town and had a delightful time playing with the diminutive feline in the back yard and pestering Main Lady to giver her a home.


This is Ebony, the newest addition to the household.  Ebony is very friendly, although she seems a bit shy around Excellent Rachmaninoff (he likes to chase things, and if a cat runs he'll happily give chase - what do you expect?  He's a terrier.) but the two are slowly establishing a few ground rules and I'm sure they'll come to terms.


I think it's likely that Ebony and Dante are related, but Ebony has a tiny white spot on her chest and so is from the inferior side of the family.  Main Lady wants this kept quiet, but I don't mind talking about it - every family has a few skeletons somewhere.

Main Lady's thought was that since Ebony and Rachmaninoff seemed to be very likely to get along well together, then Pumpkin would see this and learn all about dogs from Ebony and we'd be one big happy family.  Okay, before anyone starts up let me remind all of you that Main Lady is a liberal, and this is the way liberals think.  I don't care; I love her anyway.  What the Hell, she puts up with my crap doesn't she?

Excellent Rachmaninoff

Recalling the statements by the helpful people at the Vet's office, Main Lady introduced Pumpkin to Ebony on neutral ground - the second floor landing.  The resulting racket is best described as a Sawzall ripping through eight feet of corrugated sheet metal roofing.

Ebony has retreated to the basement and is likely making overtures to the dog about military alliances and oppressive neighbors.  Pumpkin is whistling Yankee Doodle and has expanded the Berlin border to including the staircase landing.  Excellent Rachmaninoff is a dog, and so is waiting for the next opportunity to raid the garbage.

One thing I have (so far) resisted pointing out to Main Lady is that the people at the Vet's office will say anything to get a cat adopted.  They want the cat to go to a happy home run by Moonbat vegetarians, but in a few weeks days they're willing to settle for a gentle, well-meaning liberal who has a carnivorous, irascible gun owning boyfriend (like yours truly) who makes it a point to inform the gentle, easily bruised young ladies working at the Vet's office that the very latest scientific study revealed that the best food for cats is live mice.  I heard this on NPR at the end of an interview about cats and cat health, and it shocked the talking head into a sputtering silence.

The question of the day at Main Lady's place is obvious: What do we do now?  I don't have to consult Big Mike on this, because I know what he'd say.

"I don't see the problem.  Just put all three of them in the back bedroom and close the door.  Eventually the noise will stop, then you wait a day or two before you open the door.  Whichever critter walks out is the winner; the other two are food."  Big Mike pauses a minute.  "You know now that I think about it, you're better off waiting a full week after the noise stops.  Just make sure you put in enough water.  That way you won't have any remains to deal with."

The flaw in Big Mike's plan is that the dog will win and the remains will be doggie doo-doo on the carpet.  Which reminds me that if I ever have a dog that won't hunt and that craps on the kitchen floor, I'm going to name him Politician.

Dispensing with the levity, anyone who has any ideas - constructive ideas - about a good solution to this dilemma, feel free to sound right off.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Applied Freedom of Speech

Anyone who has read my disjointed ramblings for any length of time may have correctly drawn the conclusion that I support the Second Amendment.  Here it is, courtesy of Cornell University Law School:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
We the people don't enjoy the benefits of the Second Amendment as it was written and as it was intended.  Opponents of bearing arms argue that no one should own a machinegun except the government, which includes the police.  Other opponents campaign vigorously to get the U.S. government to make it illegal for anyone outside the police to own a gun of any kind at all.  As for me, I believe that everyone who wants one should be able to own a minigun, but I'm probably alone in this.

These are the two extremes about the observance of the Second Amendment.  On one side you have Mister and Mistress Fruitcake Moonbat who can't get a decent night's sleep all because of yours truly, Mad Jack, who, while in casual conversation with Fruitcake and his wife Ballcutter, let it slip that my new machinegun finally arrived and it test fired beautifully, never jamming once.  Now I'm all set for home defense.  There's another reason that the Moonbats next door can't sleep, and that's due to observance of the First Amendment.  It seems that there is an inconsiderate young man who lives down the block and who owns a boom car.  The fool comes home at 11:30 PM weekdays and plays his music loudly enough to wake everyone up, including the Moonbats.  It's a shame that nothing can be done about this, but we can't make him be quiet because we'd be infringing on his right to free speech.  Here's the First Amendment, courtesy of Cornell:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Reasonable people will argue that the boom car is not freedom of speech; it's noise pollution.  On the other side of the fence we have a group of anti-intellectual, non-erudite people (AKA differently abled) who defiantly scream that they have a right to play their music - or words to that effect.  So why am I writing this and rehashing old topics?  I was inspired to do so by a post I saw on SwampBubbles, a privately owned BBS style site driven by user input.  While it's certainly true that many of the users engage in or start flame wars at any opportunity, this one went over the top.  Here's the screen shot:

Click to Zoom In
Likely you'll have to zoom in to read the post, but that's just as well.  SwampBubbles is owned by Chris Meyers, who ran for the Toledo School Board in 2007.  A few years ago Chris tried to limit free speech on SwampBubbles by installing a profanity filter, which was not well received by the users but did serve to illustrate an important point.  Chris owns the site and he can allow or prohibit content as he sees fit - there is no freedom of speech involved at all.  Moreover, the US Government in its infinite wisdom has chosen to hold providers harmless, meaning no one can sue Chris over this little faux pas and have any hope of winning.  So what, you say?  So this.

I find it frustrating and disheartening that the government and a significant number of the populace will approve of the official limitation of one amendment and not another.  These people will zealously prohibit a peaceful, law abiding citizen from owning a modern weapon that has never been used to harm them, their friends, their family or their property and yet will tolerate noise that deprives them of enjoying their own home by awakening them in the middle of the night.  By tolerating this kind of abuse, they are giving their tacit approval to continue the noise pollution.  Likewise with the written word, by allowing this kind of inflammatory racist speech to exist unchallenged, tacit approval is given by the owner of the site.

My hope is that Chris deletes the comment and the account, then tracks down the alleged perpetrator and bans them from the site.  He'll likely delete the comment.  Likewise, it is my hope that police start (or continue) to bust a few boom cars and issue citations for noise ordinance violations, but they probably won't.  According to the Toledo Blade, we've had 24 shootings just in the month of June and chief Mike Navarre has declared war:
Police Declare War on Gun Violence
Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre calls for a task force aimed at getting guns off the streets...
Emphasis mine.

Monday, July 4, 2011


After years of searching, discourse and frustration I have, at long last, finally gained some insight into the philosophy and mindset of a liberal. My source was not just any run of the mill liberal mind you, but a vegetarian animal rights activist gainfully employed artist and crazy enough to vote for The Anointed One twice liberal.  Let's see you beat that with a stick!  It happened this way...

Main Lady stated that her three little darlings, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, were all arriving for the fourth of July weekend and suggested I bring Mom over so we could all have dinner outside, celebrate Mom's birthday and watch the local fireworks.  As it turned out Cottontail's visit was brief and precluded the festivities on Sunday.  Perhaps this is just as well, as Cottontail is so far to the left that she has considered joining PETA.  That still left yours truly, Mad Jack, as the only male at dinner - although to be perfectly accurate Excellent Rachmaninoff was there as well, but he doesn't do well in polite conversation, having a limited vocabulary you see.

During casual conversation Flopsy mentioned that when some friends of hers were vacationing in Alaska during the spring, they were warned by a local to play music or sing while in the vicinity of a blueberry bush.

"Is this a local custom of some sort?"  I wanted to know.

"I suppose so."  Flopsy replied.  "The guide said that bears like blueberries and the momma bear has cubs with her in the spring, so if you sing the bears will hear you."

This seemed a bit contrary to common sense to me, so I somewhat idly pursued the topic.

"Wouldn't it make more sense to carry a rifle with you?"  I asked, expecting to stir things up a little.  Okay, I was hoping for an irrational, hysteric response about guns and cute, furry animals.  Sue me, but I was bored.

"No."  Flopsy replied, refusing to take the bait.

"Ah, I see.  So it's better to be eaten by the bear than to shoot it and not get eaten."  This is a tired argument and I know that, but I find it valid none the less.

"No, that's not right either.  It's better to play music."

"Something on the order of Nearer My God To Thee, maybe?"  I debated asking how the bear felt about all this, but I decided not to get side tracked.  I might be on to something here.

"Ha ha - no."  Flopsy laughed politely.  Mopsy smiled and I could tell she thought it was funny but didn't want to laugh and set Flopsy off.  I gathered myself for a truly herculean leap to conclusions.

"So if it isn't better that you get eaten, then what are you supposed to do?"  I said, launching myself for a try at the unofficial right wing gun owner record for leaping to left wing conclusions.

"Ah ha!  I have it!"  I raised a finger dramatically, pausing for a second.  "It isn't better that you are eaten - it's better that someone else is eaten!"  I paused for a minute, considering the import of my words.  I'd truly stumbled upon Moonbat truth and hadn't really realized it until just then.

Moonbat gun control works like this:  Disarming the populace is good because each Moonbat thinks of himself or herself (or itself) individually and concludes that disarmament is a good idea, because the harm will always come to someone else.  That the 'someone else' who is harmed might be a gun owning, bear shooting right wing-nut is a sort of bonus and a good reason not to feel sorry for anyone.  A kind of 'they had it coming' logic.

My statement was greeted with a long silence, finally broken by Main Lady asking if anyone would like some decaffeinated coffee with desert.  I accepted the change in topics of conversation gracefully, savoring my new insight.  Possibly the government had overheard Flopsy's slip and the Democratic party would try poor Flopsy in absentia levying some sort of fine and a possible demotion.

The fireworks were excellent this year, and we all had fun.  Mom enjoyed herself tremendously.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Origins Game Fair: Big Mike's Hospitality

If you're lucky (like me) when you attend Origins in Columbus, Big Mike will offer you hospitality.  Snatch it up.  I arrived Thursday night and was kept well fed, well rested and half in the bag until I left on Sunday.  Due to the weather we went out for dinner until Saturday, when Big Mike fired up the grill and declared we were eating in.  Here is a dinner prepared by two bachelors.

Green Beans
The green beans were prepared with red pepper, onion and a little bacon fat.  This is the only way to enjoy green beans.  I'm told that the secret to the beans is getting young green beans so that they are tender enough to eat.

Fresh asparagus - eat your heart out, HistoryMikePhD!  I used to revile asparagus as an inedible weed placed on my dinner plate by relatives with evil intent.  Little wonder, as I was only served asparagus when I dined at my Grandfather Tightwad's house.  The weed in question grew wild in Grandfather Tightwad's back yard, and since it was edible there was no sense in letting it go to waste.  Grandma Martini would cook the stuff to within an inch of its life and throw it on a plate, sans sauce of any sort.  The stalks were as big around as my middle finger, which, quite by coincidence, could be used to display my feelings about the pile of stinking green mush on my plate.  I have since revised my opinion due to being served fresh, young asparagus with thin tender stalks that has been prepared correctly - as this was.

Future Hollandaise Sauce
One of the first things I learned to cook correctly was hollandaise sauce.  Put a little hollandaise on anything and you can get people to eat it.  These ingredients were combined with some frozen butter over low heat, and when the sauce thickened it was used to enhance the asparagus.  This was my own contribution to dinner - Big Mike did the rest of the cooking.

Main Course - Steak
Big Mike got the steaks at North Market, a remarkable store near the convention center.  The store grows its own beef, which is of excellent quality.  We had to wait while the steaks were cut, which was time well spent.

Finished Product
Perfection has been reached!  Few people dined as well as we did that evening.  The steaks were perfect thanks to Mike's skill with the grill in the back yard. 

Desert was a generous portion of Laphroaig ten year old scotch whiskey and coffee made from Brazilian coffee beans that Mike buys green and roasts himself, producing a coffee that's as smooth and rare as the scotch.

Here's how!