Monday, October 25, 2010

Range Report

I went to the Bullet Stop last Sunday with my brother Big Mike and was pleased with the results. Even with allowances for my terrible eyesight and afternoon shakes, it was a good day.

Mike's Kimber .45
This is Mike's first effort with his Kimber .45. I advised him to quit shooting for the day, as he wasn't going to do any better than this. As it turned out, I was right -  but so what? If you're knee deep in brass you're bound to be having a good time.

Kimber .45
Big Mike's .45 Kimber. The trigger pull on the Kimber is the best I've seen on any stock firearm. It's a short pull with a very clean break.

Smith & Wesson Md. 586
This is my nightstand gun, the S&W md 586 in .357. I commonly shoot .38 special for practice, mainly due to the recoil of the .357 which is enough to break your wrist and loosen the fillings in your teeth. Note that the original grips have been replaced by Pachmayr grips. When I first bought this pistol at a gun show for $300, it had the original wooden grips on it. They looked good, but the gun was hard to hold on to and shooting .357 ammunition was difficult, as the pistol tended to shift in my hands every time I torched one off. At Big Mike's suggestion I bought a set of Pachmayr grips and found the pistol was much more comfortable to hold and the grips absorbed enough of the recoil to make shooting .357 ammo possible.

There's also the cost of shooting to consider, .357 ammo being a little harder to come by than .38 and being a damned sight more expensive. The first six shots of this group was fired single action, two handed grip at about 30 feet. The rest were shot double action, one handed at the same distance, which is why I'm happy with it.

.380 at 20 Feet

I shot this with Big Mike's .380 at about 20 feet. The sights on Mike's .380 are not adjustable and are hard to see, but I managed to turn in a good score with it. Good enough for 20 feet anyway. This is Mike's sock drawer gun, and he was trying to decide just what the best grip was for picking it up and putting one in the chamber.

Big Mike's .380
I suggested to Mike that since the pistol is double action, he should just put one in the chamber and uncock it. Mike declined for reasons best known to himself. The only trouble with leaving the chamber empty is that the slide on the pistol is difficult to get a good hold on. The combination of a small pistol with a strong recoil spring makes a person tend to grasp the entire slide in your secondary hand, which means there is a danger of a piece of the hand getting caught in the chamber as the slide drops. This would provide the end user with an unwanted distraction.

After shooting Mike and I went over to the Maumee Bay Brewing Company for an excellent lunch. All in all, a very good day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Life: The Boneyard, Part 1

As usual, I was minding my own business when my dear old mother told me she would like to go visit a few garage sales today, which is a hint that she'd like me to drive, lift and carry. It doesn't hurt that I have a Garmin GPS system, which is the only way I can find my way around such cities as Baton Rouge, Memphis or New Orleans. So off we went to find various estate and garage sales, most of which are a complete waste of time. The very last sale turned out to be somewhere off Benore road and consisted of a warehouse full of junk surrounded by a bone yard filled with weeds, debris, boats on the hard and a stray vehicle or two. Being bored, I opted to wander the yard while mom investigated the warehouse. Mom found a set of good quality china, 12 place settings and serving pieces, including a soup tureen. I negotiated a good price.

Anyway, while the china was being packed up, I discovered a burned out truck in the yard.

Abandoned Truck
 Low and behold, this used to be part of the Try Hours fleet, as the truck was flying the Try Hours flag.

Try Hours Red-Hot Freight Expediters
For a very brief time, I worked for Try Hours and enjoyed it. The business was in Sylvania at that time, and the owner was named Doug. I don't remember his last name, but he was a congenial sort and very easy to work for. The head book keeper was Beth, and I can't remember the names of the dispatchers. I do remember that during the summer a girl in a bikini walked through the dispatch area and it sounded like feeding time in the primate house at the zoo.

Ohio - PV62S Expiring in 1995
Some time after that I went to work for Tri-State Expedited Service in Millbury, where I remained for a longer time than I should have. The owner of Tri-State, Ron Chidester, and his management team used to curse Try Hours frequently. Doug never worried about the competition and what they might be up to; he was too busy working.

I expect Ron would be happy to see this burned out truck.

Monday, October 18, 2010


But not until you aim. While on my way back to the old homestead this morning I saw what appeared to be an overheated radiator. Not so, as the Sylvania Township Fire Department is not in the habit of responding to stranded motorists.

Fire or Steam?
While this might not be a four alarm fire, it's unusual to see an automobile burning up. I hope the folks have insurance. Here's a better shot of the Fire Department in action.

Auto On Fire
One thing I've always liked about Sylvania is our first rate fire department, followed closely by the Sylvania Township Police Department. These men and women do an excellent job.

Traffic is being routed around the circus, and the plethora of police forced the idiots to stop tailgating, cutting in front of other drivers, forcing their way into the line of cars... and in general stopped them from displaying the bad driving habits that occasionally earn them points on their license.

Cause for Commotion
Here's the source of all the misery. I don't know how this came to pass, but I'd say it was likely the driver smacked into someone entering Monroe Street from the Kroger parking lot. This particular intersection was poorly designed from the beginning. Kroger was allowed to build a store and a gas station on a corner with heavy traffic, thus adding to the problem of traffic congestion during morning and afternoon rush hours.

The flammable materials under the hood burned quite nicely and gave off a strong chemical stench. I inadvertently got a solid lungful of the stuff and have been feeling sick ever since.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Elections, No New Taxes and Other Lies My Government Told Me

Each time I take the dog for a walk the yard trash reminds me that elections are right on the heels of Halloween, which strikes me as fitting - Samhain marking the end of the light period of the year and the beginning of the dark period. Politicos spend huge sums of money to put a new spin on the same old lies while those in office make another attempt to grab more of our wealth than they already have, all the while demanding we re-elect them. Dispensing with the candidates and their prevaricating election campaigns, here are a few local issues that are going to have an adverse affect on everyone living in Sylvania.

Brother, can you spare $1,367?

That's what the government is asking for. This is based on the government's certain knowledge that they, your elected officials, know how to spend your money better than you do. Here's how the propose to spend it.

Issue #3
A Majority Affirmative Vote Is Necessary For Passage.
An additional tax for the benefit of the Sylvania City School District for the purpose of current expenses at a rate not exceeding 4.9 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.49 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for a continuing period of time, commencing in 2010, first due in calendar year 2011.
This is a brand new tax and has no end in sight - meaning that it will never, ever expire. This is a property tax, and if your home is worth $100,000 you'll have to cough up an additional $490 every single year you live in Sylvania. That's if your home is valued at $100,000. The average home in Sylvania is valued at just a little more than that; $219,842 as of 2010. So in this case, you'll have to come up with an additional $1,077.

The schools claim they need the money more than you do. They don't. They likely want the money more than you do, but they do not need it.
Issue #7
A Majority Affirmative Vote Is Necessary For Passage.
A renewal of a tax for the benefit of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority for all purposes of said Regional Transit Authority, other than bond debt charges, in accordance with the provisions of Section 306.49, Ohio Revised Code, at a rate not exceeding 1 mill for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.10 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for 10 years, commencing in 2011, first due in calendar year 2012.
If you want lower taxes, here's your chance. This is a renewal of an existing tax. Vote against this levy and maybe your taxes will go down by $100, if you own a $100,000 home. That's an entire c-note you can put in your pocket and do whatever you like with it. Of course, if you live in Sylvania in a home of average value, eliminating this tax will give you an extra $220 you can play with. If this is even starting to sound appealing, vote against this tax levy and give yourself a little more breathing room at the end of each month.

If you let this one pass, you'll be stuck with this tax bill for the next ten years. Sound appealing? No? Vote it down.
Issue #11
A Majority Affirmative Vote Is Necessary For Passage.
A renewal of a tax for the benefit of Sylvania Township, including the City of Sylvania, for the purpose of operating a senior citizen center at a rate not exceeding 0.32 mill for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.032 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for 5 years, commencing in 2010, first due in calendar year 2011.
This one isn't for the kids, it's for the seniors. You know, the retirees. Again, you are given the opportunity for lower taxes, this time for five years at $70 per year. If you've got seventy American dollars to throw away, throw it my way instead of giving it to your elected fat cats.

In summary, the average value for a home in Sylvania is $219,842 (source). If you're living in a home of average value, the government is demanding $1,077 for Sylvania schools, $220 to fund TARTA and $70 to support the senior center - a total of $1,367. While some people have money to burn, most of us do not. Me, for instance. I can't afford these taxes, and if I could I still would be against all three issues. The government does not need our money. Vote no.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Life: Haunted by The Past

All these old people are always living in the past. Hey, the past is past. Let's get on with what's going on today.

- Mister San Diego himself, Richard Kurtz
The thing is, your past always comes back to haunt you. Not just sometimes, always. Take, for instance, my own personal history which could be charitably described as colorful, or maybe memorable is a better word. I've tried forgettable but it hasn't worked out for me.

Many years ago when I was a young, virile twenty-something hell raiser and still working on my professional standing in the hard core party animals association (HCPAA) I sometimes dated a college student, a young lady of high intelligence, considerable talent and loose moral character. She was a divorcee with three kids (not living with her) and an ex-husband who, as it turned out, wasn't a bad sort. She had a large family who were nice people, and in fact I got along with her mom really well. Her brothers liked me and we'd all party together from time to time. It may surprise you when I state that I shall refer to this lady as Migraine One. Our relationship was a good deal like gasoline and matches, and those were the good days. Bluntly, Migraine One was neurotic with psychotic episodes and a drinking problem. I had a perfect cycle going with her. She and I would get together for a wild weekend which would turn into a one to three month romance. Then Migraine One would get into the wine once too often and start raising hell with me and I'd pack up and leave for a few months, and the cycle would repeat. You want to know just how I know that this wasn't all my fault? For those that don't give a damn, skip the next paragraph.

There are people in this world that love drama. Violent drama is best, the more people involved, the better it gets. You'll find them at late night parties in private homes, in bars, anywhere that people congregate in order to socialize. You'll spot these folks in a second if you just know what to look for. If you're at a party and everything is going along smoothly with everyone about half in the bag and having a good time, this is the person who will start something. She'll start up some friction with someone, lean on their button, whatever you want to call it. She'll either bring up a past argument or invent a new one, and invariably one side will orient against another side. Lines will be drawn, old insults and injuries brought up, and the whole thing will end with half the people on the front lawn screaming at each other and the other half trying to separate the factions and settle everyone down. Just when things might settle down she'll stir them up again, and she'll keep this up until the police arrive to settle the noise complaint or everyone goes home. The instant the police show up she fades into the background and lets someone else take the fall. Hell, by then the combatants are all on the lawn anyway so there's no shortage of possible perpetrators. But the real perpetrator? She's either hiding in the house or has escaped out the back, preferably with someone who can drive her home. This is Migraine One. I've seen her do it and get clean away more times than I care to remember. Need I say that when she didn't have an entire group to work with, she'd start up with me.

So why did I keep coming back for more? Now why do you think? What, you want me to draw you a picture or something? Base it on my being young and dumb, in the same way that all men were once young and dumb. Plus, when she was sober, Migraine One had a few sterling qualities. She was very well educated and very bright, having an IQ in excess of 130. But whatever her sterling qualities may be, they never outweighed the crap that everyone around her had to put up with.

Time passed, and after several years and a few aborted suicide attempts (no, I'm not kidding, although in hindsight I now believe that these attempts were more to get attention and manipulate others than anything else) Migraine One finally found someone else to fixate on. In a final hoorah Migraine One headed West, never to be heard from again. Until, that is, she surfaced - much like a World War II U-Boat off the coast of South Carolina coming in right under the radar.

Why did I answer the phone that day? Why didn't I have the presence of mind to pretend to be a wrong number or something?

Ring! Ring! Ri-




“It's me.”

“Who - “

“This is Migraine One! How've you been?”

“Ah. Fine. I've been pretty good, take me all around.”

“I was just thinking about singing, and I thought it would be fun to sing together. Would you like to sing with me?”

“I – singing? Well, sure, I suppose.” What could I say? Just wait until an old and long forgotten someone calls you up at three in the afternoon and asks you to sing songs over the telephone and see just how fast you are on your feet.

“Okay, what should we sing?”

By this time I realized that Migraine One's words were slurred and she might be a little more psychotic than usual. I had no idea what I'd like to sing, but the retort “I'd like to sing 'Far, far away'” popped into my mind. I stifled the one liner in favor of some pertinent information.

“Where are you right now?” Because, thinks I, if you're in town my next call will be to the local constabulary, warning them of a dangerous lunatic in the area.

“I'm in California, in LA. I know! Let's sing Bill Bailey! I'll start.”

Won't you come home, Bill Bailey...

Since LA is a good deal away from Wisconsin, I joined in with feeling, finishing the song with a fine flourish. What the hell, right? Then I get another surprise.

“Okay, well, that was fun. I have to go, but you can think up some more songs for us to sing. Okay?” slurred Migraine One.

“Sure.” I'll agree to most anything if she's hanging up. Hot puppies!

“Okay! Bye!”


That phone call was sometime last year and that, as they say, would be that - were it not for a few loose ends. It seems that Migraine One has contracted an illness of some sort that provides her with total disability and a steady supply of pain killers. Downers. Reds and yellows. Hillbilly heroine. How I learned this is immaterial, but the ramifications are not. Migraine One is now running on pills and wine. And so it was no real surprise when she called Main Lady the other day and asked to speak to me. It seems that Migraine One will be in town in the very near future and wants to get together for coffee or something. Her words, not mine – 'or something'. Migraine One apologized several times for calling me at Main Lady's house and said she hoped she hadn't caused a problem for me. In fact, she hasn't, but Migraine One can't quite wrap her conniving mind around two people having a relationship that isn't built on jealousy, spite and interdependence. Good for me, I guess. 

What I suspect Migraine One wants is a quick roll in the hay to be followed by as much Shaniqua theater as she can create, and we are talking the real good experienced actor Shaniqua theater here, the $50 a ticket for the nose bleed seats Shaniqua theater, the kind that is likely to give poor old Mad Jack's Main Lady a serious malfunction when the show opens at 2:00 AM on her front lawn, and if you think I'm kidding about this you have no idea about Migraine One and what she's capable of. I consulted Main Lady, who had an excellent suggestion.

“Would you like to invite me along for lunch?”

Oh HELL yes!

My Life: Circus

I live in a circus.

The item in this article is called a Kong. It's hollow with a hole about as big as your thumb in one end. The owner can fill the toy with dog treats of one sort or another and give it to the dog who is then kept busy for a while extracting and eating the dog treats. Some people (PETA members and other misguided pinheads) believe that it's cruel to make the dog work for his food, to which I say that if you've never had to work hard to attain something you wanted, then clearly you can not identify with the feeling of success your dog will enjoy as he digs the treats out of the Kong. If further proof is needed, I'm willing to let these people try taking Excellent Rachmaninoff's Kong away from him while he's busy working with it.

Kong Toy
Anyway, this particular Kong belongs to Excellent Rachmaninoff. He's got a nice blue one as well, but I can't find it just now. I suspect that Rachmaninoff has hidden it, such behavior explaining why he has two Kong toys instead of just one, and also why I'm on the lookout for the second Kong toy. You see, the last time Main Lady wanted to distract the little dog, she filled his nice red Kong toy with dog treats and gave it to him to play with, then went about her business.  Excellent Rachmaninoff had other ideas, and instead of spending the next hour or so extracting the treats, he hid the toy in the large planter in the foyer. I've no idea how long the toy remained hidden, but it was long enough for Main Lady to water the plant several times, thus thoroughly soaking the contents of the toy and changing the consistency of said contents from crunchy dog treats into heavily watered oatmeal. You'd think a bright red toy wouldn't stay hidden for very long in the midst of a clump of green house plants, but you'd lose that bet.

When Main Lady finally found the toy by tripping over the dog and knocking the planter over, she picked it up and the contents (now a high school biology experiment conclusively proving something) ran out all over her hand, down her arm and onto the floor. The dog refused to help with the clean up.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Review

Ford County by John Grisham
Fiction, 340 pgs., $7.99 USD, Copyright 2009 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-440-24621-3
Published in the United States by Dell, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York

I enjoy reading John Grisham. Mr. Grisham has twenty-two novels with his name on the cover, and this collection of short stories is arguably his best work to date. The stories are all set in Ford county, a right lively place by all accounts. A Time To Kill was based in Ford county, and I can see some distinct similarities in Grisham's style between the two works. Here's an overview of Ford County:

  • Blood Drive: When a local boy is injured, three resident geniuses take off in a pickup truck to donate blood. Remember, the reward isn't in the destination, it's in the journey. I laughed until I choked on my bourbon when I read this one.
  • Fetching Raymond: The family must go and pick up Raymond, but they need to borrow a van to get the job done. Raymond is not what you think he might be.
  • Fish Files: This one is great, has excellent characterization and a grand finale.
  • Casino: Just a little better than Fish Files, again with a great finish.
  • Michaels Room: Explains what might happen when the civil suite is well and truly over and the dust has settled.
  • Quiet Haven: Are you old? Are you afraid of being warehoused in an 'assisted living' facility? Vengeance is best taken cold.
  • Funny Boy: Prejudice and mercy in a small minded town.
Grisham's strength is in his characters whom we learn about by Grisham's descriptions and by the character's actions. In addition to this, the plots are strong and solid, the situations realistic. If you've read anything by John Grisham in the past and enjoyed it, you'll really enjoy this one. If you haven't, this would be a good place to start.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Movie Review: Winter's Bone

MJSSE Rating: 10

Time: 1hr 40m
Rated: R
Genre: Drama Thriller
IMDB link here, official site here.

On Mad Jack's Scale of Screen Excellence (0 - 10), I rate this as a solid 10. Here's why, without giving away too much about the plot.

The film is rated R by the easily offended Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), I suspect for realistic violent content, as opposed to the Hollywood crap that is normally rated PG, and show several thousand rounds of ammo being expended during the trailer, and where no one (not even the extras) get so much as a powder burn. In Winter's Bone, when a gun goes off someone is going to the hospital or to the morgue.

Our protagonist is one tough teenager surrounded by equally tough neighbors, all of whom live in a world harder than the concrete on I-75 in Detroit, MI. For those of you unfamiliar with this metaphor, I'll say this: Even a banker's heart isn't that hard. In spite of the hardships caused by this environment, they all survive.

The protagonist, Ree, must care for two young children and her mentally damaged mother. This includes finding enough to eat when you're dead broke and trying to teach the kids how to care for themselves, including reading, writing, cooking, cleaning and hunting for food. The man of the house is gone - vanished with very little trace, leaving behind a lot of problems that Ree has to deal with.

Whatever else Ree does, she does not whine about her hardships. Neither does anyone else. Life is tough, and none of the characters waste time complaining about how hard things are and how unfair it all is. What a relief! Meantime, the audience is treated to back woods scenery and culture that you won't find anywhere else.

Do not expect some type of hearts and flowers happy ending here. The film ends, and on reflection it ends where it should. There are no possibilities for a sequel, which is another big relief.

While you don't have to watch Winter's Bone on the big screen to enjoy it, I plan to see it again. It really is that good.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Being without a normal keyboard and having plans that do not involve sitting in front of a monitor, I am officially announcing that my birthday is Saturday, October 2. I'm not going to reveal the year of my birth, mainly because I don't want to disappoint any nubile young female readers who are entertaining secret fantasies about me, Mad Jack, while their current boy toy tries for the umpteenth time to employ his point and grunt philosophy as a distraction while he fumbles around, seeking his own two and a half minutes of fame.

My thanks and a hoist of my martini glass to all readers wishing me a happy birthday.

Trojan Horse

One way or another my desktop system became infected with a Trojan horse, and a nasty one at that. I tried STOPzilla but the software refused to install (no real surprise) and the STOPZilla technical support, located somewhere in whodahStan, was more interested in billing me $199 for services to be rendered. I declined and took my sick system to Stone Computer where my favorite oriental technician promised to get it back to me by Monday. The real cure for this infection is to scrub the drive, reformat and reload. Honorable Technician-San told me that I'm not alone. Evidently this particular Trojan has been playing merry Hell with many computers this week, and I am not the first nor likely to be the last. The company behind this Trojan is living in India, well beyond the reach of US Citizens who would delight in tying the little weasels to a pick up truck and dragging them for a few miles over a bad piece of road.