Thursday, March 26, 2020

For A Friend...

Folks, I'm breaking my over-a-year-long streak of not posting because I have some sad news. Someone that I consider a good friend, Chance over at SayUncle, suddenly and unexpectedly lost his wife to an unexplained cardiac event earlier this week.

Words cannot express how shocked we all were to hear this news. I've known Chance for well over a decade, meeting him in person in 2010 at the NRA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC, but having been online friends for years before that. Chance was one of the first "big" gunbloggers to link me, both when I was blogging at the site formerly known as North Georgia Dogma, then Toys in the Attic, and then here. He survived the three-hour-long, 7-mile ride from the hotel to the convention center in Pittsburgh in the Tactical Minivan.

Heck, Unc helped me get hooked up with Shooting Illustrated.

I honestly can't even begin to wrap my head around what he must be going through right now, I can't. Sudden, unexpected and life-changing; this would shatter pretty much anyone. I would take it as a kindness if you could go and drop Unc a word or two of encouragement, a joke, anything to help him in this darkest hour.

And Chance, if you see this: You've called me before; you have the number. If you ever want to talk, vent, or just have another human being on the other end of the phone, give me a call. I don't know what you're going through right now, but I'll do anything I can if it will help you right now.

I have to go, now, before I cry all over my laptop.

That is all.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Eighteen Years Ago Today...

Eighteen years ago today, my son was born. TheBoy entered the collective conscious, bringing "father" to the list of names I proudly wear. He's off to the Navy in a little over four months, and I couldn't be more proud of him. It's humbling to think that the little boy I once held in one arm will be patrolling the seas and skies (he's going into air traffic control) keeping us safe.

Love you, buddy! Happy birthday!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

What A Long, Strange Trip...

Okay, so, yeah. It's been a while since I dusted off the ol' keyboard.

[counts on fingers]

EEK. Six months. Guess it was time to let y'all know I'm alive... So, to make up for a seriously deficient amount of posting, here's a noveletta..

Been doing a lot of thinking lately, about fitness/health-related issues. Y'see, for the past year and a half I've been walking/jogging/running just about every day as part of a general regime to help keep my weight and blood pressure down. Since the start of the year, I've been getting back into the (home) gym to lift weights, spurred on in large part by my son, who is getting into weight-training for basketball.

And, as these things often do, it caused a bit of introspection. For most of my childhood and a good portion of my adult life, I was overweight, sometimes bordering on obese, sometimes well into obese and damn near morbidly so. I went on and off diets pretty much on a yearly basis as a kid, and even well into adulthood struggled to keep my weight in check.

Through college I lifted weights quite a bit, having the good fortune of living in a dorm with a weight center in the basement. Getting to the gym was easy, and while I may have been heavier, it was more muscle than fat. I was running about 220 - 230 pounds, which on my frame didn't look too bad. In fact, it's the curse of the large frame--even at 250 I didn't look *terribly* overweight.

I remember going on yet another crash diet after I graduated from college, getting down to 205, which was the lowest I'd been my adult life (maybe even my teens). It was the same type of diet I had been on dozens of times--rice cakes and grapefruit, little else, until the weight came off. Once it did, I went right back to eating the same way I always had, and the weight slowly crept back on.

In 1996, at a physical, I weighed 253 pounds (it was my pre-marriage physical; I have no idea whatsoever why I remember the exact weight, but I do). In four years I had managed to gain 50 pounds, despite being in graduate school, not having a lot of money, and still getting a fair amount of exercise mountain biking, rollerblading, and camping/hiking. It's evident in the wedding pictures, despite my attempt to hide multiple chins with a beard and wearing a comically large tux.

In 2000, I had my first gout outbreak. At one of the followups to the outbreak, my doctor discovered borderline high blood pressure and put me on medicine to control it. At 28 years old, I was on two different daily medicines for weight-related problems. Granted, the gout medication was only as outbreaks occurred, but they would occur quite frequently in the coming years.

In 2001, I quit smoking before my son was born, and from there the weight kept piling on. I deluded myself for quite some time, thinking that being a non-smoker was healthier than the increase in weight. The highest recorded amount (doctor's visit) was 284 pounds. However, I know that was on the downswing -- at one point, I found my size 44 waist pants getting too tight, and started watching what I ate and getting more exercise.

In 2006, I decided that I didn't want my kids growing up with a morbidly obese father with multiple health issues. I sat down, chronicled what I ate every day for two weeks, then calculated my daily caloric intake. I don't remember the exact number, but it was north of 4,000 on more than a couple days. Mind you, this is for a guy who sat at a computer for 8 hours a day, not someone climbing up and down ladders painting houses or walking miles and miles mowing lawns.

After getting an idea how much I was taking in, I decided to slowly cut back. I made hundreds of little changes in my diet, changes i could live with for the rest of my life. I didn't want to go "off" the diet and go back to eating whatever the hell I felt like, because the weight would just come right back. I use my morning coffee as an example:

I used to drink it with cream and sugar, and a lot of sugar at that. I figured that, conservatively, I was putting in about a tablespoon of sugar and a couple servings of cream, for a total of 100 calories or so. Multiple that by two, and that's 200 calories a day. I cut out cream entirely and switched to artificial sweetener, and I've immediately saved 1,400 calories a week with little effect on taste.

I made hundreds of these little changes over the following year and a half. I started out dropping my caloric intake to 2,750 calories a day, then 2,500, then 2,000. At the height of my weight loss, I was taking in 1,500 calories a day and dropping 1-2 pounds a week--a goal I'd decided would result in safe, sustainable weight loss. Despite not spooling in any sort of exercise regimen, I continued to lose weight over 2006.

In January of 2007, I hit a significant milestone: I dropped below 200 pounds. It had been at least 20 years since I had been at that level. I decided to work some exercise into the mix, and started walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike and hitting a rowing machine as part of my daily workouts.

In May 2007, my doctor took me off blood pressure medication. I've been off ever since. I've had *maybe* three gout attacks in the past 11 years. The medical benefits are quite tangible.

Sometime in 2011, the exercise got dropped. I still stayed moderately active, riding a bike fairly often and taking walks when the weather was nice, but no longer adhered to a formal workout routine. For a few years, this worked just fine, until we moved to Virginia in 2013. While I didn't gain back a lot of weight, maybe 15 pounds at most, I noticed that it was slowly creeping back up.

In October 2016, I started walking daily. At first it was 3 miles or so, but over the past year and a half it's ramped up to close to 5. As I got more into the routine, I'd add in jogging/light running as part of the mix. If you'd told 25-year-old me that I'd be jogging, I'd have thought you were joking.

In November of 2017, we bought a used weight bench off a local Facebook classified group. My son had heard that weight training would help him in basketball, and was eager to try. As he progressed, I found myself joining him, first as a spotter, then as a partner.

I'm no Charles Atlas (kids, ask your parents), but I'm currently in about the best shape I've been in my entire life. Five days a week I walk/jog. Five days a week I lift weights. I just dropped to within 3 pounds of the goal weight I reached in 2007, and I continue to stay off meds. I haven't had a gout outbreak in more than three years, and as I come within sight of 47, I'm starting to think about things like protein intake and increasing reps vs. overall weight for strength or toning.

And, as a side benefit, five nights a week I get to bond with my son. We communicate on a peer level; in fact, quite often he's the teacher. He's taking a couple advanced fitness classes in high school, and they've covered proper form for various weightlifting exercises. Not to mention, he's a voracious consumer of information when it comes to things that interest him, so he's researched body building and weight training extensively. He advises on form and diet, and I am better able to spot for him as he gets stronger.

I guess this is in response to something I read online, where someone was claiming that you can't lose weight just by counting calories alone. Actually, I believe the claim was that you couldn't keep weight off by calories alone. I forget if this was pushing keto, or paleo, or Atkins, or whatever the flavor-of-the-month weight loss program was, but it so thoroughly pissed me off I decided to dash off a quick timeline of my own experience.

You *can* lose weight by counting calories, and you *can* keep it off. It takes a boatload of determination and discipline, mind you, and I'm shocked as anyone else I have been able to keep it off this long. It has been a long journey, and I hope to continue it as long as I can. I don't post this to brag, just to prove it can be done. Heck, if I can do it, *anyone* can...

Side note: I forget who it was, I want to say Nutrisystem or some other weight loss program, that for a while offered their meal plans. It always amused me, because the only way those work is if you are disciplined enough to *only* eat the meals they send. And if you've got that kind of discipline, you've got enough to pick up comparable meals at the grocery store and save 2/3 the cost...

I'll try not to let another 6 months go by between entries, but I'm not making any promises...

That is all.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Now This Is Funny...

I started a post where I thought that one cool thing Buick could do to change their image would be to come out with a new Grand National. Drop a turbocharged V6 onto the Camaro frame, change the bodywork, and BOOM! New Grand National.

Lo and behold!

Buick Avista.

It's in the concept phase, so GM still has plenty of time to kill this idea and come out with *another* crossover SUV that no one will buy. But yes, a 400-horsepower, rear-drive Buick? Kill the "Avista" tag, call it the Grand National, and retire on the profits.

Heck, even *I* would consider a GM product for the first time in 20 years...

That is all.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

While I Remember How To Post Here...

Here's something I did at the day job not that long ago that turned out really flippin' sweet:

Building an AR-15 Under 5 Pounds (Including Optic)

Lightweight AR Build

The original specs were that it weigh under 5 pounds, including optic, and that the total cost of the build not exceed $2,000 (MSRP). It came in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces and a total cost just over $1,800 - and that included some exotic materials like titanium lower parts and a magnesium (!) handguard. Go take a read - it turned out pretty flippin' sweet if I do say so myself...

The one drawback, though, is that now *every* other AR I own feels like an anchor...

That is all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wow, So, Yeah...

Holy smokes. Has it really been six months since I last posted? I'm actually kinda curious who's still paying attention here. Anyways, stalwart generator of content Brad_in_MA asked an interesting question that I thought could use more exposure:
Greetings and good afternoon. I was asked whether or not I thought having a tablet was a good idea.  So, what are your top 2 or top 3 reasons you like a tablet (compared to a smart-phone or laptop) and the top 2 or 3 reasons you dislike a tablet? How do you use your tablet?
I responded:
It's interesting that you mention this now. I recently (in the past month or so) picked up a second iPad (*dirt* cheap) as well as an Acer Chromebook. With two kids in high school, I wanted a second computer(ish) device, and the iPad means I can give my older version to my daughter. She routinely does her homework on her phone, and the iPad at least allows her a larger interface. 
With that said, I guess it boils down to your preferred platform. If you're a Mac/Apple fan, then tablets are definitely cheaper - you can get a new iPad Air for $400 or so; whereas the Macbooks are still going for close to a grand. If you're a Windows fan, it is exactly opposite - the Surface is a grand, while cheap Windows-based laptops or Chromebooks can be had in the vicinity of $200-$300 all day long. 
It also depends on *where* you do your computing. The real beauty of the iPad is that I can take it out on the front porch, or on the back deck, or sitting in the Adirondack chair in the backyard, and be perfectly comfortable checking Facebook, responding to e-mails, etc. The Chromebook is larger and heavier, and the keyboard is scarcely bigger than the bluetooth keyboard I have for the iPad (I dropped $30 on a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse). 
Battery life, at least for a laptop with a SSID drive, is comparable; I think I get 9 hours out of the iPad and 12 out of the Chromebook. One advantage of a tablet, though, is that you can buy one with a data package and have access 24/7; with the laptop/chromebook, it's a little more complicated, expensive, and limited...
So, for the small handful of folks who might possibly be checking in, what are your thoughts? Tablet? Laptop? Phone?

Anyone still paying attention here?

That is all.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bet You Thought I Forgot...

Nope. Ten years ago today I started this blog.

Ten. Damn. Years. That's like a zillion in internet time. In the ten years since I started, I've changed jobs, moved 500 miles south, and had my horizons greatly broadened. I've missed my family and friends in MA something awful, but I sure haven't missed living in the Volksrepublik. Watching what's been happening there - as more and more states embrace freedom - only makes me happier to have GTFO.

I know I haven't been blogging much, recently. This post makes three posts in a month, which, while rare, wouldn't have even made a day when I was blogging all the time. There's just not much fueling the fire any more, not when I routinely carry a full-capacity M&P and have a safe full of AR-15s... :)

Hey, actually, you can go to the work website and read how I screwed up my Bushmaster. It's pretty embarrassing, I kinda made a rookie mistake. But, hey, I'll own it and was able to fix it myself - and since I don't have any more pinned-muzzle-brake ARs, it's not going to happen again.

Anyways, I'll be trying to update more regularly, so that the next 10 years won't be as sparse...

That is all.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

You May Ask Yourself, How Did I Get Here?

So, my son has his learner's permit. He drove for the first time today. My little boy, the dark-haired baby we brought home from the hospital all those years ago (it feels like a couple months...) is now a permitted driver. I took him out when we got home from the registry (don't get me started on the three-hour ordeal *that* was...) for a quick spin around the block, and it's the damnedest thing - he's actually pretty good at driving (I'd say better than his old man, but that's damning with faint praise...)

My. Son. Is. Driving.

In less than six months, my daughter will start high school. HIGH SCHOOL. Both kids will be in high school, actually; my son will be more than halfway through his high school career then. I keep seeing the man in the mirror get older and older, more gray in the beard, more aches and pains when I get out of bed.

But, dammit, I'm alive.

I started this blog almost 10 years ago (I know, it scared me, too). My son had just turned 6. My daughter wasn't even 4. I lived in the People's Republik of Massachusetts and didn't own a single AR-15 (now, how *that* has changed!). It feels like an eye-blink.

Got married.


Built house.


Brought my son home from the hospital.

Brought my daughter home from the hospital.


Started a new career in a different state.


And now my son has his learner's permit. Another blink and it'll be my daughter. Then they're off to college, then... quiet. :)

It's funny, with kids. When your kids are young, you see parents with older children and think to yourself, "it'll be easier when they're older." It doesn't matter what age, or what "older" is - for example, when kids are babies, and they get sick, they can't tell you what's wrong. They can't take "regular" medicine, either -- it's a crap shoot without going to the doctor, so you go to the doctor a lot. You look at the parents of pre-schoolers and think, wow, when those kids get sick, at least they can tell their parents "my stomach hurts" or "my throat is sore."

Then your kids get older, and start getting some independence, and you find yourself looking at families with little kids and getting nostalgic. You look back when they were little, and you remember the magic, and the wonder, and how they could be persuaded to do just about anything for the promise of a Happy Meal from McDonald's. Christmas through the eyes of a young child is about the most magical thing there is.

And then you blink, and the spell is broken. 

Oh, don't get me wrong. The current phase my kids are in is *awesome*, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. They're independent, which is a level of awesome all by itself. When school is canceled because of snow, we give them a list of chores (they ignore it, of course, but at least when they start fighting we remind them they have things to do and they magically stop fighting...). There's no more anxious panic when we flip the calendar and see that the next Monday is a teacher in-service day and school is canceled, because we no longer have to frantically scramble to find child care.

It doesn't get better, because that implies it was less-than-perfect before. It changes, of course, but every step along the way has been eye-opening and awe-inspiring. My son has gone from a wirey little bundle of squawky joy to a young man who looks down on his dad (I mean this literally; he's got a good inch on me now). My daughter, the raven-haired baby who was two weeks late for her own birth, is now a young woman with dyed hair and an independent streak a mile wide. It's amazing watching your kids become their own people.

And, now, they're starting to drive. Excuse me while I look for my cane...

That is all.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can Someone Set The Record Straight?

Saw this on Facebook last night:

Now, leaving aside that the hat and jacket are from a Navy ship (clearly visible on the hat), I'm confused. We just had eight years where the president had never served a day in the military, so I thought we'd finally put to rest the served/didn't serve question.

I mean:

In 1992, we had WWII war hero George H.W. Bush against draft-dodging Bill Clinton. Military service? We were told it didn't matter.

In 1996, it was Clinton against WWII war hero Bob Dole Clinton. Military service? Still didn't matter.

2000? George W. Bush (accused by the left of dodging the draft despite serving in the TX Air National Guard) against Al Gore Jr., who served honorably in Vietnam. Military service? Now means everything.

2004? The same George W. Bush against John Kerry, who also served honorably in Vietnam. Military service? Still means everything. Remember "Reporting for duty"?

2008? Barack Obama, never served, against John McCain. 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton? Yeah, he served honorably. Military service? Not only does it not matter, it wasn't even brought up.

So... Now military service matters again? Interesting that it's brought up after the election, given that Hillary Clinton not only didn't serve, but by being female, she didn't even have to worry about the draft.Or, is it possible that there are only certain times and circumstances that military service means anything? Like, say, depending on the political affiliation of the person in question.

I mean, not that our media would ever show bias or anything like that, of course...

That is all.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


I'm still here. Blog's still here. I just forgot to renew the domain (that's what happens when it's every other year - you keep thinking, it's next year, right; every other year you're wrong...)

Haven't blogged much in [looks at last post] holy shit, over three months. Ouch. Quite frankly, the current state of politics has me so disgusted I can't even see straight - between both sides switching their views overnight, the media just making shit up out of whole cloth, and general derpitude, I don't have the energy to comment on political stuff. Any gun content I put up is at the work site, and I no longer have Massachusetts idiocy to feed the fire for blogging.

Will try not to let so much time elapse between posts going forward, though.

Those that e-mailed or messaged to ask me what was going on, thanks. It's comforting to know folks are looking out for me, no matter how far away they might be. I've got a handful of milestones coming up (I've been blogging here for 10 years as of next month. Holy smokes! I've also been blood pressure medicine-free for 10 years in May). I'll try to resuscitate the blog more often, too.

Maybe I'll post traffic updates - I got a webcam for Christmas, so that should provide ample fodder...

That is all.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Nope. No Bias Here...

Wow. Just wow. This is rather stunning, really...

Screenshot because, well, you know...

This is the CNN main webpage as of about 6:30 Saturday evening. The story about the FBI re-opening the Clinton case is framed as "strange" and "unprecedented", with a bonus story calling for the FBI to ditch Comey. At the bottom of the page is a graphic showing, allegedly, how a (formerly) right-leaning area is now trending left, and how that portends abject failure for Trump and the Republicans.

We're still hearing dribs and drabs about the circumstances that caused Comey to re-open the investigation. From the sounds of it, disgraced NY congresscritter Anthony Weiner, recently estranged from Clinton's closest advisor Huma Abedin, had documents that pertained to the FBI investigation closed in July on a computer that was under investigation for an unrelated matter. "Tens of thousands" of e-mails dealing with Clinton - which we have to wonder how many were classified - wound up on a completely unrelated device, with unknown security.

That, Madame DeFarge, is "strange" and "unprecedented."

The media is actively working with the Clinton campaign to get her elected. How hard will they work to investigate wrongdoing on her behalf once she's in power? We saw the media perform more actual "journalism" "investigating" Melania Trump's speech as it pertained to speeches given by Michelle Obama than we've seen in the entire eight years of Obama's presidency. Imagine that. The media acting in a critical manner and doing investigative journalism. Compare and contrast that to the ridiculous lengths they're going through to cover for Hillary Clinton.

I want an adversarial press, not a supplicant one - Vote Trump.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Um, How About No?

Found something worth dusting off the ol' keyboard for. And, guess what, it's more rampaging media hypocrisy and narrative pushing...

Rio 2016: US Muslim fencer 'doesn't feel safe' due to anti-Muslim sentiment in America
An American Muslim fencer, who is the country’s first Olympian to wear a hijab, says she does not feel safe in the US due to the country’s increased anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, 30, is currently in Rio de Janeiro preparing to represent the US in sabre fencing. She is ranked eighth in the world and is gearing up for her first Olympics after missing the 2012 London games because of a hand injury.
One of the events she cites for why she doesn't feel safe is "the shooting in North Carolina." Now, I assume she means this story, where a nutjob murdered three people in cold blood. Those three people happened to be muslim, yes, but the reason he killed them--aside from being bats**t crazy--is that they had repeatedly parked in his (assigned) parking spot.

Now, a couple asides. 1. No, parking on someone else's parking spot shouldn't get you killed. I refer to the "bats**t crazy" comment; 2. I hope this dude fries. Shouldn't have to say that, yes, killing someone over a gorram parking spot is crazy, wrong and deserves the fullest punishment allowed by law, but yeah, there it is...

With that said, though, there is absolutely nothing in this story - or any other - that points to the victims' religion as the reason. The guy was an unstable loon, period. It's sad, it's tragic, but to try and twist this into some sort of horrible case of muslims being targeted? That, it's not. He mentioned, once, about the women's headdress; apparently this is enough to convict him of a hate crime (forgetting, of course, that the Dallas shooter's admission that he wanted to kill white cops was "murky"...)

It's what I think we ought to call the "Columbinization" of a news story. Even today, you run into people that still think the two killers in Columbine were poor outcasts, picked on by the beautiful people in the school until they just couldn't take it any more and snapped. Except that never happened. That was a handy narrative and it made for a compelling story, and only suffered from one small problem: it was completely fictitious.

Fast-forward to the whole Michael Brown fiasco. There are still plenty of places, today, where they fully and honestly believe that "hands up, don't shoot" is absolute gospel truth, that poor, unarmed youth Brown was just walking down the street, minding his own business, when some evil racist cop walked up and shot him in the head for the sole crime of being black. Even Harvard Law School bought into it. Again, completely fictitious. Three separate investigations backed Officer Wilson's version of the day's events, where Brown attacked Wilson in an attempt to gain the officer's handgun.

In the immediate aftermath of one of these events, it is understandable that certain elements - often nearly all - will be incorrect. In the rush to be first to report, fact-checking and vetting of sources goes out the window. However, for events to be misreported a decade later (in the case of Columbine)? That's clinging to a false narrative. Just like they're trying to do now with this "muslims aren't safe in America" crap.

But then again, we're talking about her, aren't we?

That is all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Know Anecdotes Are Not Data...

I'm refraining from making any sorts of comments on the recent happenings in Minnesota and Louisiana. We still don't know enough of the details at this point, and the camps are already so tightly drawn that direct evidence - on either side, mind you - will be discounted, downplayed, or otherwise ignored if it doesn't fit a preconceived notion.

No matter what your preconceived notions are.

What got me, though, was the concept that "you don't know what it's like" - that a non-black person has no idea what it's like to be unfairly (to their mind) targeted by law enforcement. And, of course, it got me to thinking. I'm second-generation Italian-American. I'm certainly not hispanic or black, and I don't qualify as "non-white" on any checkbox anywhere. I started thinking about it, and realized that, among other reasons, I have been pulled over for the following:
  • Taillight or license plate light out (on several occasions; only once was the light actually out)
  • Yelling out the window
  • Window tint too dark (even though the front windows - the only ones with restrictions on the tint level - were down)
  • Radio too loud (numerous times)
  • Squealing tires (twice)
  • Flipping a cop the bird (I wasn't)
  • Driving through a parking lot
  • Having a license plate that was similar to one reported stolen (had a gun in my face over that one; the plate reported stolen was from a different *STATE*, too)
And, my all-time favorite:
  • License plate too dirty. 
I kid you not. My wife can verify this actually happened.

I'm not counting the many times I was pulled over for speeding or failure to come to a complete stop, even when those times were - to me - suspicious (like, going 5 over on the highway or rolling through a stop sign at 3AM). These are also the only incidents I can remember; I'm sure there are others that time has seen fit to drop from my memory. I  remember chatting with a friend a long time ago and recounting the number of times I had been pulled over for BS reasons, and it was well into the teens if not 20s.

What's the common denominator? In a good number of cases, I was acting like an idiot. None of the cases above happened when I was a new parent and driving a Honda Accord sedan or Dodge Durango SUV. I was careful, cautious, and wasn't out at 2 AM looking for something to do. In the vast majority of the rest of the cases, it happened on a Friday or Saturday night, and within 30 seconds of the officer sticking his head in the window of my vehicle (and determining that I had not been drinking), I was let off with a verbal warning.

You know what *really* helped me? My retired-MA-State-cop dad sat me down, right before I got my license, and gave me a few pointers on what to do when I got pulled over:
  • Stay in the car. 
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Turn the interior light on (at night, of course).
  • Stay in the car.
  • Roll the window down
  • Address the officer as "sir" or "ma'am"
  • Don't make any sudden movements - ever.
  • Stay in the car.
  • Inform the officer of what you're going to do *before* you do it - as in, "my wallet is in my left rear pocket, I am going to reach for it now to retrieve my license as you have requested."
By adhering to these guidelines, I kept tickets to a minimum and I honestly think that my dad's advice had more to do with this than his status as a retired cop. Also, in the case of one of the squealing tires, I was racing a Camaro and blew right by the cop. He pulled out and I *immediately* pulled over and followed the above protocol. When he asked me what the $%&# I thought I was doing, I responded "Being an idiot, sir". When he stopped laughing, he thanked me for my honesty and gave me a verbal warning.

I'll contrast this with one time I was in a car driven by a friend of mine. He was speeding, but only like 10 over on the highway; it was a Friday night and we were going to the beach to cruise for a bit. He starts mouthing off to the cop, "Why'd you pull me over? I was only going 10 over, just like everyone else."

He got a ticket.

Now, look. I know I'm not one of the aggrieved groups that tend to garner extra scrutiny by law enforcement. It's not a stretch to see that certain groups catch the eye of John Law faster than WASPs - or even eye-talians. And yeah, it's got to be infuriating to get pulled over simply because you're a different skin tone than the rest of the people in an area, I can grok that. It sucks, yes. But I can attest that the police pull over everyone for BS reasons. BTDT, got the T-shirt.

And it's tempting to say something. The time I got pulled over for going 5 over the speed limit, it was on a 65-MPH limit, three-lane, divided highway - in the middle of the afternoon. . The entire time the cop had me pulled over, I think two cars went by us. Obviously he was bored and was looking for something to do - or hoping he'd catch someone, I don't know, smuggling maple syrup in from Vermont. Sitting there on the side of the highway, with three other people in the car, waiting for this guy to finish doing, well, whatever he was doing, was annoying as all get-out.

I've had a gun put to my head, got yanked out of a car and been arrested as a result of traffic stops. It happens. Even to kids from the 'burbs. While I'm sure that certain groups are singled out more often than others, pretty much *all* males through the age of 30 are suspect - and let's face it: quite often, we've done something to deserve it. The way I look at it is, the times I've been pulled over for BS reasons are evened out by the times I've been flying down the highway at 20+ MPH over the speed limit and had a cop just look over at me, wave his hand in the universal "slow down" motion, and then go on his way without stopping.

And yes, I reiterate that anedotes != data, and I'm sure there are many out there that look at my list, chuckle bitterly and think "hey, sounds like last month." It's not meant to be a "I know what you experience," by any means; more like a "I do have some frame of reference, but perhaps not scale." I might not know just how bad it is - I'm pretty sure I don't - but I have an idea what it's like.

It does make you wonder, though - if we realized that we had more in common than not, we might start questioning the power structure and things like "qualified immunity" - and of course, the powers-that-be don't want that...

That is all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


It's fair to say my single biggest pet peeve is hypocrisy. And I'm seeing a lot of it, lately.

  • Folks who went apeshit insane when Obama was called by his full name are more than happy to call Donald Trump "Drumpf." What does that even mean? It sounds idiotic, and doesn't give the speaker much credibility.

(For the record, I feel the same way about "Obummer" or "Obambi" or any of the other stupid plays on Obama's name. "Shrub" was idiotic, too.)

  • I won't get into the Hillary/FBI thing for a number of reasons, but I do want to address one thing: The idea that "nothing" has been found because they declined to prosecute? Okay, fine. We'll give you that. However, you have to admit that Reagan and Bush were innocent in Iran/Contra - that was $50 million, and neither Reagan nor Bush were prosecuted. If one is true, the other certainly is as well, right?
  • So, California just passed another round of gun control, where they made the "bullet button" illegal. The bullet button that they insisted be present in any magazine-fed rifle in the *last* round of gun control in CA. They're also banning all magazines in excess of 10 rounds, and requiring people to turn them in. Without, it seems, remuneration. Two, two, two amendments in one. 
Where's the hypocrisy, you ask? The CA legislature exempted itself from CA's gun control 5 years ago...
And, just in general, "Because [other guy] did it too" is a logical fallacy. It's even worse when the two situations are not comparable. 

That is all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vacation AAR...

...or, It's Been A While, But I'm Still Alive...


With the recent happenings in the news, I really haven't been feeling it in the ol' blog department, sorry. I'm unhappy with the state of what passes for political discourse in this country; dumbfounded that the choice comes down to a reality TV star and someone who, in a just world, would be serving time for treason; and heartbroken that, yet again, we have a terrorist wreaking death and destruction that gets blamed on inanimate objects.

Plus I went on vacation.

One thing those of you that have moved away from home can appreciate is that it pretty much automatically cuts your vacation time down, dramatically. You still want to see family and friends from the old place, so a few times a year you make the trek back from whence you came. I actually had a "first" this trip - I managed to make the trip without GPS.

It's about 500 miles from the new house in Virginia to my old neighborhood in MA, give or take a few miles. It takes us through Maryland, Delaware and into New Jersey, where we break from the GPS directions and split off onto the Garden State Parkway to do *around* NYC rather than through it. It adds about 20 miles to the journey but probably saves a half-hour of sitting in traffic, plus the pucker factor of driving 95 through NYC. The trip typically takes anywhere from a little over 8 hours to as long as 13 (that was the Sunday after Thanksgiving the year I moved).

So, the schedule for the week looked like this:

Saturday: Up at dawn to drive North.
Sunday: Father's Day breakfast with my family, then the Red Sox game at Fenway with my wife's. Got to run the bases with my kids, which was pretty much the highlight of the trip.

Not too many more of these opportunities, I fear. Before long, TheBoy will most likely have a job, so we'll have to plan trips around his work schedule. I remember growing up, my vacations with my mom & dad pretty much ended after high school, so we might have 2-3 more years.

Monday: Beach day!

Tuesday we headed up to the cabin in Maine, and spent the next couple days on the lake:

Interestingly enough, both kids managed to get in touch with their MA BFFs, and we took a total of four kids up to the cabin. In years past, we've harped on the kids to contact their friends when we had a trip north planned. Typically we start nagging a couple months out, and it culminates in frantic calls and pleading texts on the ride up. This year, because things were so hectic, we didn't even mention it; yet both kids independently got in touch with their best friends in MA and arranged for them to come along. We have found that, counter-intuitively, having more kids actually makes life easier - the kids pair up and leave each other alone.

Friday we left Maine in the late morning, drove down to MA and dropped the friends off, then went to my folks for the afternoon. Stayed for dinner and conversation after, then headed back to VA around 9 PM. Other than a spot of construction-related traffic literally two towns over from where my folks live, it was a smooth, quick ride home and we pulled into our driveway around 5 AM. It was exhausting, but a great trip overall. We never seem to have enough time to see everyone we want to see, and this trip proved no exception...

Glad to be back home and sleeping in my own bed, that's for sure!

That is all.