Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Random Photos

In honor of new follower 45er's comment that Random = Funny, I offer the following with commentary as necessary:

Teh buhns.

The Cheap-plastic-part-in-a-high-heat-application-ness, it melts.

Did you say treat?

The attack of the mutant, psychodelic, killer penguins appears to have begun.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Never'll have plenty of company.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Too Funny Not To Share

The Queen and I had a meeting to attend this morning at an office building near the castle. The elevator bank in this building is in a hallway oriented perpendicular to two parallel hallways where the offices are located. After our meeting, The Queen and I walked back to the elevators. I looked down at the floor in the hallway on the other side of the elevator bank and noted that a fire hose was stretched out. Not knowing that there was anyone else around, I turned to The Queen and said:

"Well, it looks like someone's getting hosed."

From around the corner I here:

"I heard that."

I poked my head around the corner to discovery a gentleman patiently reinstalling the fire hose into the "in case of emergency" box on the wall.

The Queen and I had a good laugh.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Miscellaneous Round Up

Good morning all you happy people. I thought I’d take a few minutes to give you a random update since I don’t have time to delve deeply into the burning hot topics awaiting escape from my feeble brain.

First, I found out that the end of my life as I know it begins on Monday, August 15. That’s when classes for law school starts. The school automatically registers me for classes and puts me in a writing section, etc. since the first year law curriculum is the same for everyone. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to pay for this. I owe, I owe…it’s off to work I go.

I went in for a second opinion on the amazing stink eye on Wednesday. This eye doc happened to be the one who performed cataract surgery on a family member and got the eyesight back to 20/20 from “Is that stoplight red or green?” He took one look and said I had a case of “severe” iritis. According to him, the iris is adhering to the lens in 5 places. At least it was. Thursday night I noticed that the pupil in the right eye now looks like a flat tire. At the follow up appointment with him on Friday, he said that’s a good sign as it means there’s only one adhesion left. Whatever. My vision is still blurry out of the right eye.

A week ago Thursday, The Queen and I made a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma for business. We drove up Wednesday night and spent the night. If anyone of you reading this actually lives in the state, would you please do me a favor and find the head of your fair state’s transportation department and whollop him upside the head with a 2 x 4?

Seriously. It seems like every freaking road between Dallas and Tulsa was under construction. The interchange from US 69 to Indian Nation Turnpike. Closed. After detouring through scenic, downtown McAlester to the other entrance to INT, it was shut down because an 18 wheeler overturned. Coming into Tulsa, ALL (and I do mean ALL) the highways in the area of downtown we needed to go to were closed effectively destroying the directions we had to get to our hotel.

The kicker was our return trip though. We stopped for dinner at Western Sizzlin in McAlester since our options were extremely limited. After dinner, I went to the rest room before we got back onto the road. I really should have gotten a picture of this restroom. It would have fit right in at a high end steakhouse. There were armchairs and a bench and everything. Anywizz, after finishing business and while washing my hands, two young female employees walked in without announcing themselves. I just stared at them, and one of them said “Oh, sorry.” while the other one continued to babble incessantly about whatever it was they were talking about when they came in. When I came out, The Queen and I exchanged WTH? looks and gestures while I walked back to the table. She told me once we got back in the car that she now knows how I feel when she’s around other me. She said she felt very possessive, jealous, and “just what are those girls doing going near my man”, etc. I’m so proud.

Last, but not least, is a little scene from Friday night. The Queen, Nephew Ginger Boy and I were walking in downtown Fort Worth. In Sundance Square across from 8.0, we saw a short, thin woman “pole dancing” with a parking meter. She apparently had not a care in the world. Made me wish we had the camera with us.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How I Became A Gunnie

A little over 10 days ago, Jennifer wrote a post about how she became a gunnie and asked her readers to post their stories too. I’ve been meaning to respond to that question, but I’ve been a tad busy here lately. Which is par for the course around Castle Erickson. I’ve got some free time tonight though; and, if it’s going to get done, now’s the time. So, without further adieu, here’s the story of how I became a gunnie.

In one sense, guns were not a big part of my life growing up. My parents did not own guns, and my dad’s dad never owned a gun in his life to my knowledge. My mom’s mom had a couple of rifles (more on those later). Mom’s dad had, at various times, a dozen or so guns which were kept stashed under car seats, in window racks in pickups, in a cheap gun cabinet and in nightstands. I don’t recall exactly when I took my first shot with a firearm, but I do remember clearly what it was and where it was.

I know I was older than 4 but younger than 8 since this incident occurred before my parents’ separation and divorce. Back in the day, granddad drank Buckhorn beer. It was cheap, and he bought it by the case. The cardboard in which the case came was conveniently printed with a target on the backside with a picture of a buck in the center. I’m sure I brought what happened next on myself by pestering granddad to teach me to shoot after he was at least a 6 pack into a fresh case as the crazy coot thought it’d be a hoot to see if I could hit the broadside of a Buckhorn beer case target with a 12 gauge shotgun. He nailed one of those targets to a stump, had me lie down prone behind the shotgun and said something cheeky like “you may fire when ready.” I can’t say how far off the ground I came, but I’m pretty sure it was more than a couple of inches. The noise? What? I can’t hear you. Hearing protection? What’s that? Come to think of it, I don’t think granddad owned ear plugs or muffs. Ever.

I did manage to clip the lower left corner of the target from 10 or 20 yards which I don’t consider to be all that bad for a scrawny, young kid with exactly zero formal firearms training using a gun he had no business shooting. Granddad, if memory serves me right, was a little annoyed that I didn’t get a better hit on the target.

As the years progressed, granddad’s interest in teaching me to shoot properly didn’t improve. There was the squirrel hunting incident in which he sent me into the field with a Mossberg 20 gauge bolt action shotgun. His advice: “Aim for the head.” There was the time he bet me that I couldn’t hit a big oak tree 50 yards away on the first shot with his Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 magnum. The penalty for failing to hit the tree was allegedly going to be “a whipping”. I hit the right side of the tree on the first shot. Years later, I found out that the sights on that gun were skewed way right. I’m not entirely sure he didn’t do that on purpose to “win” other similar bets.

It’s amazing to me that I had any interest in shooting at all after his “careful” tutelage. But, addicted to recoil was I even despite his best efforts to scare and bully me.

I did get some formal firearms training the Boy Scouts for the marksmanship merit badge. There is not much to report of those experiences other than the one attempt I made at skeet shooting. At camp, we had the opportunity to try it using an H&R single shot 12 gauge. It bucked like a mule, and I couldn’t hit anything with it. Until the last shot when I dusted the clay through blind luck. Literally…as I am fairly sure my eyes were closed.

Between Boy Scouts and trips to granddad’s, my exposure to firearms growing up was rare but enough to keep the spark alive.

By the time I was old enough to buy my own guns, I was a poor college student. I did manage to purchase a few for recreation and apartment defense. At various times, I had a Taurus .357 revolver with a 6 inch barrel. That got traded for a Taurus PT945. The PT945 got traded for a Glock 23. Somewhere in that time period, I got my concealed handgun license and acquired a Rossi .357 snubbie revolver. A Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun and a Marlin 60 .22 rifle came home during this time period as well. I eventually sold the Glock to a friend because I didn’t like it, and I wanted the cash. A change in my religious views led me to not renewing my CHL. That led to the Rossi getting traded for a Browning Buckmark .22. The Browning was eventually sold to meet a cash flow crisis. I was recently able to replace the Browning with a Ruger MkIII 22/45 which I really like. More importantly, The Queen likes it too. She likes it so much, I may just have to let her keep it “hers” and get a MkIII Hunter model to be “mine”.

As mentioned above, I’ve also come into possession of some of the family “heirloom” guns. The pride and joy of that part of the collection is the Winchester 1905 S.L. (self loading) rifle in .32 SLR (or .32 WSL depending on which cartridge box you happen to be looking at). This rifle was my grandmother’s (mom’s mom). 

Story has it; she and granddad went to a turkey shoot back in the day when they were still married. Grandmother turned up in high heels and slacks, and granddad entered her in the shoot. She wound up shooting the pants off everyone else and taking home the prize (this rifle). She presented it to me around about my 21ST birthday with a box of shells she had for it that had to be at least 40 years old if they were a day. From what I’ve been able to find out, it was made in 1907 or 1908. The ammunition is hard to find as there are no manufacturers making it anymore. The cheapest I’ve ever seen a full box of ammo was $60 at a gun show probably 15 years ago. I haven’t seen a box anywhere in probably that long. You can find single cartridges on sometimes. I did come across one website for a custom ammo maker claiming to make reloads for it, but I haven’t gotten around to trying them out.

I also have my granddad’s U.S. Springfield Model 1873 .45-70 Trapdoor Rifle complete with bayonet. This rifle has seen better days, but it still shoots which is amazing for a rifle made in 1882. The stock is experiencing dry rot and will eventually just disintegrate. I plan on waiting as long as possible, but it will eventually require a new stock.

Another oldie in the collection is great granddad’s (mom’s dad’s dad) Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless 4TH Model .38 Short with a 5” barrel. This is a neat little top break, five shot revolver. They were also called “lemon squeezers” after the grip safety on the back strap of the handle. I’ve never shot this pistol as the timing is off by a lot. I just don’t want to take the risk of having a round split in half by the forcing cone and blowing the barrel off…and my hand.

The oldest gun in the collection is a Perkins double barrel muzzle loading percussion cap shotgun. 

I don’t know the exact age of the gun, but it reportedly belonged to granddad’s great uncle or great great uncle and may possibly have been used in the Civil War. I would put the date of manufacture sometime in the 1850’s. It might be older than that by a little, but there are no markings that I can make out that would confirm it. This gun is in even sadder shape than the Safety Hammerless. According to granddad, his great uncle hand carved the stock using a piece of glass. I would venture a guess that the stock was carved ON using a piece of a glass during a more or less sober state. The action is horribly loose, and the rear of one of the barrels took damage to the cap nipple. Granddad, in his infinite mechanical genius (or more likely a drunken stupor) decided he would try to fix it using J.B. Weld. 

So, now the gun sits awaiting the time when I can make a suitable shadow box for it to reside in permanently as it will never be fired again. 

There are also the “guns that got away” from Granddad. The selfish old coot sold some of them rather than keep them for his one and only grandson who wanted them. He had others stolen from him (although I suspect that they were actually borrowed by his step kids and never returned). One of these was a Springfield .30-40 Krag which I know for a fact took a deer at 400 yards with iron sights. There was a Colt Border Patrol revolver in either .41 or .45. I only saw that one once, but I knew I wanted it. Oh well. Such is life.

Currently, I’m just a recreational shooter, and I’m perfectly happy with that. As mentioned above, I no longer carry concealed. The main reason for that is that I believe that God can protect me a whole lot better than I can. I still maintain a defensive awareness when out in public, and I think I do a fairly good job of threat assessment which helps keep me out of situations where I would need a firearm. I’m not a certified instructor or anything like that, but I have introduced several people to shooting. I’ve never been a big hunter although I do want to have someone who knows what they are doing teach me “the right way” to hunt instead of my granddad’s idea of hunting. I do love me some fresh Bambie, and it seems a tad hypocritical to not be willing to go shoot him myself. I’d love to get into some friendly competition one of these days, but I don’t have any plans to chase after IDPA Grand Master status.

Lastly, there are a lot of guns that are on the wish list waiting to be purchased and enjoyed. So many toys. So little time (and money).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Proud Moment in Professional Sports

As many of you know, I am not a huge professional sports fan. I enjoy watching a game now and again as much as the next guy, but who is on which team and which team is doing well this year does not consume my life. I have been a "hometown fan" for as long as I can remember even when those teams were nothing to write home about.

Lord knows the Dallas area sports teams have had their share of moments where they would have preferred NOT to be in the spotlight on or off the field. It's nice to see a moment when the SHOULD be in the spotlight for something that has nothing to do with the latest box scores.

This may be nothing more than a symbolic gesture on the part of the Rangers, but I really don't care. It's much better news than which overpaid, barely educated, drug snorting, prostitute abusing, malcontent "athlete" is in trouble this week for drunk driving/drugs/dog fighting/drive by shootings/ETC. It would be nice to see more stories like this from professional sports and fewer stories about the latest tantrum by the team "star" about why he's not getting paid enough to play with someone else's balls (or pucks if your a hockey fan).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

That Smarts

Well, I had hoped that my 200TH post would be a little more profound than this is likely to be; but, I figure if I don't start cranking out the free ice cream again soon, y'all just might go get your fix elsewhere. So, where has Waldo been lately? When we last checked in on our hero, he was overcome by the emotion of having been accepted to law school. Much, as they say, has transpired since last we spoke.

I spent the remainder of the week following receipt of my acceptance to law school in a giddy daze. I did go see my youngest niece's orchestra concert that evening which was enjoyable even though it resulted in one of those "When I was your age"/"Your tax dollars at work" moments. The concert was held in the cafeteria/auditorium of my niece's middle school. As I perused my surroundings while waiting for my niece's orchestra to get to the stage (her's was the last of four different groups), I noticed that the cafeteria was not the style of school cafeteria to which I was accustomed when I was in school. In fact, it looked more like the food court at the mall. You had separate counters for burgers, pizza, fried chicken, and plate lunches in addition to the candy/snacks/bakery counter. When did this start happening??? When I was in middle school, what they were serving in the SINGLE lunch line was IT. If you didn't like it, you were out of luck. Kids have it so easy today. No adversity to face. They don't have to learn how to suck it up and take it...whatever it is.

Moving on, two days later, my great uncle (mom's dad's younger brother) passed away at the age of 82. His health had been in decline for the last 10 years or so following a motorcycle accident. His memorial service took place over Memorial Day weekend in the central Texas town where he had lived most of his life. I went with mom and my sister...the devil to go to the service which was held at the church where my great uncle had attended since he was a boy with my great grandparents. Funerals and memorial services are generally not fun events, and this was no exception. I do have to say this was probably the least coherent funeral service to which I've been. I'm not sure what a normal Church of Christ funeral service is supposed to be like, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't even close.

The memorial service also happened to coincide with my grandfather's (mom's dad) 90TH birthday which is somehow appropriate. According to mom, he's extremely proud of the fact that I've been accepted to law school even though he made no mention of such feelings to my face while we were there. I think he's just waiting until the ink is dry on my bar card so that he can ask me to sue someone for him. Personally, his pride and approval mean less to me than a warm bucket of spit; however, I can't completely turn my back on him. I have learned things from him, both good and bad, that make me who I am today, and I must grudgingly admit that he is a necessary component of my existence whether I like it or not. One of these days, I will have to explain my feelings about him in more detail to give you, my faithful readers, some idea of why I want to be standing behind him when he stands before God. If I could sell tickets to that event, I would.

That brings us to the next reason why I've been AWOL the last week or two. A week ago Friday, I was snuggling up next to The Queen in bed pulling the covers up when the covers stopped and my left hand didn't. My hand flew straight back into my face and impacted my left eyeball. I clearly remember my eyeball compressing, and I saw a ring of pretty blue and yellow stars in a pitch black room. I yelled but, in a shining moment in the ongoing development of my Christian character, didn't cuss. The Queen asked what happened; and, after being told, she started laughing at me. I eventually had to laugh to and said "It's all fun and games until someone punches their own eye out."

Now, a normal person would expect to wake up the next day to a black eye in the eye that was hit. Nope. Not me. I woke up the next day, and both eyes were perfectly normal. The day after that...not so much. That day, I woke up to discover that my RIGHT eye was completely red, painful to the touch, photo sensitive and would hurt when looking in certain directions. And, when I say hurt, I mean "feels like being stuck in the eye with an ice pick" hurt. Before you ask, yes, I am quite certain that it was my LEFT eye that was hit.

After things didn't get better after a couple of days, I made an appointment with the eye doctor. He pronounced the problem to be "iritis" which is inflammation of the iris. Basically, I sprained the muscles that control my iris. I was relieved that I had not detached the retina of something catastrophic. The doctor said that it's possible that the shock wave from the hit to the left eye went through the tissue and inflamed the right eye. Apparently, this is not unheard of in sports injuries.

The almost constant headache that went with this was the easiest part to deal with. Never knowing when the phantom ice pick would strike...that really kinda sucked. I did figure out that the change between near vision and far vision was especially painful and have worked to avoid that as much as possible. You really have no idea how much you move your eyes, how much focusing you do until you do something stupid like this. It completely wears you out mentally and physically. I've spent the last week or so being almost constantly exhausted because of my eye.

So, there you have it. More or less. Free ice cream to continue as my eye improves.