24 March 2007

Saturday Stuff

I'm involved in another at-home gunsmithing project from Hell, so I'll keep this brief (for now).

A couple in Kentucky (where else?) were arrested for trying to exchange a toddler for $3,000 and an SUV.

Huh. I don't really care for children, but the question I had immediately was...what kind of SUV?

Listen - I entirely understand not liking children very much. But folks, if you don't want children, don't have them. Once you've got them, you have to keep them. You also have to not abuse them, starve them, pimp them, drug them or chain them in the basement for periods exceeding a few hours.

With all the miracles of modern birth control, there's no reason that people who obviously have no interest in raising children should have them.

23 March 2007

Pet food

Oh yeah - about this.

My dogs eat Pedigree canned food to "spice up" their healthy crunchy food. So we have no been affected by this.

But this sucks. CNN has been featuring a family that lost their precious bullmastiff to this contamination. I cannot describe the anger I'd feel if this had happened to my dog (or even to Sparky).

And I know cat people like their cats, so that's unacceptable, too.

And now it looks like rat poison?

Unfortunately, the pet food production process is...nasty. And I bet it will take some time to figure out how this happened. But it needs to be run down. And if someone put the rat poison in on purpose - then they need to be ripped apart by jackals.

Oh - the spider

The damn thing has gone into hiding. I finally had to call it a night around 0345, but was up until 0430 or so, worried about feeling its nasty, hairy spider feet walking across my legs.

And I'm a little concerned because it's described as a "hunting" spider. What the Hell does it hunt? We don't have an insect infestation that could have lured it in (I kill about two roaches a year in here). Plus, it's BIG. I'm concerned it might be hunting SPARKY.

You know, I only really mind these things in the house. Because they're everywhere outside. Check this out.

I was on a very cool trip a few years ago (Madagascar). Our guide, one night, showed us what he obviously thought was the neatest thing. After dark, when there's dew on the tall grass, he'd shine a flashlight across it. And you'd see all the sparkly little points. Little dew drops, right?

Negative, ghostrider. Many of those little sparkly points are spider eyes. Big old wolf-spider-looking spiders. With eyes. Watching.

How horrifying. I've been uncomfortable peeing in the tall grass at night ever since.

I did make a point of demonstrating this to the stepkids. They weren't sure whether it was cool or terrifying. Me neither.

Not a good neighbor

Well. Iran is at it again. They snatched up 15 Brits.

The Royal Marines and ordinary naval officers were believed to have been apprehended by up to six ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy who claimed they had violated Iranian waters

Of course, it really does not look like they invaded anything.

I have to admit I was a little perturbed to pull up the CNN home page this morning and saw the pet food issue was placed more prominently on the page.

I hate this shit. The enemy we face is a pack of savages. All they understand is force. They can certainly read between the lines when we dither, vacillate and wring our hands over this sort of utterly unacceptable behavior.

The British military is very, very good. As is ours. Those 15 Sailors and Royal Marines need to be "recovered" with extreme predjudice. Like yesterday. To not do so sends a dangerous message.

Dangerous men in black are available and ought to be tasked to rectify this situation immediately. Playing the diplomatic game with this nest of vipers may be alright in regards to Iran's nuclear program, but the seizure of personnel belonging to our ally...that sort of behavior warrants a real response.


So I got back from the Clenched-Ass Run From Hell. And I was sitting around, watching a movie. For some reason I glanced out toward the kitchen. And saw it.

A goddam wolf spider. From the University of Florida, we know the following:

Wolf spiders belong to the family Lycosidae. They are very common and usually found on the ground, where they are well-camouflaged. The Carolina wolf spider (Lycosa carolinensis), at 25 mm to 35 mm, is the largest in the United States. These spiders do not spin webs but some dig burrows or hide under debris. Like other hunting spiders, they have good eyesight and are sensitive to vibrations.

They're not poisonous, but this little fucker is on borrowed time. Please understand - this spider is as large or larger than the round fired by the chain gun on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. I'm all about the happy animals, but I cannot sleep while there is some sort of enormous nocturnal hunting spider roaming my house.

Now, these are clever spiders. We had a couple of them move in...I dunno. A while ago. I explained to Mr. Abby that if he did not kill them, I would shoot them. With a shotgun. In the house.

Upon further reflection, that's probably not technically the best way for me to handle this. Most effective and gratifying - certainly. But I think there would be paperwork.

My next preferred method is the vaccuum. However, the vaccuum is right next to the loveseat, under which the Beast seems to have established its Giant Spider Forward Operating Base. I will not be lured in that easily.

So I need a whacking tool. And one that does not require me to get close to the Beast. Magazines are out.

- CRAP! - I just got up to locate a whacking tool. I was thinking of my five-gallon plastic water can. But I forgot that because I am prepared (stupid hurricane-prone Florida), it's full. Five gallons of water weighs 40 pounds. I can certainly carry it, but I cannot chase a spider around the house, swinging it wildly.

So - scratch that part about whacking it. I bravely approached the loveseat and took charge of the vaccuum. When the Beast shows itself...well, people, it will be game on.

Once I suck it up, I have some loose birdshot that I will suck up in order to ensure it is deader'n shit. I learned that from my Mom. Suck 'em up, pelt 'em, then put the vaccuum outside. Giant spiders are like zombies - you can't be too sure that they're gonna stay dead.

It may be a long night here at BDC, because I am NOT sleeping while this thing is in the house.

22 March 2007

Nothing is sometimes better

when it comes to posting. Seriously, the only thing I'd have for you today is a description of the Hell that is suddenly discovering that your GI distress isn't quite pasr- while two miles into a three mile run. In a public park.

But you don't want the details on that. So I'm gonna call it a wash for today, unless I'm inspired later. Considering I'm about to brew a new pot of coffee, that's not entirely out of the question.

21 March 2007

Oh, it's ON now!

I'm entitled to the Montgomery GI Bill. It's a significant amount of financial assistance, and I need to use it by 2016 (new 10-year period started when I redeployed - how great is that?).

Of course, the problem with that is that I hate school. Hate it hate it hate it.

But...look what fabulous group is VA-approved for certain courses.

Hmmm...I see a tremendous amount of GI Bill money getting pissed away taking bizarre classes in wilderness medicine and horsepacking.

More CMP Information

The Inland M1 carbines are going to sell at $495 +22.95 shiping and handing. Hmmm... That seems a little steep. The rifles are not all-original - one stands a very good chance of having some other manufacturer's parts married up with the Inland receiver. Then again...it's a service grade rifle - better than "rack" or "field" grade weapons.

This does clear things up a little. I will most probably get me an Inland. They're going to be good, decent rifles, and although there may be more out there rattling around the world, I don't think they'll show up any cheaper in the future.

Also...if the vast majority of these rifles, the common ones, are going to go for $495, I have to face the fact that I will not be able to afford one of the real rarities later this year. I'm just totally guessing here, but I could see the Rock-ola or Saginaw S'G' pieces going for somewhere from $800-$1200. I've spent that kind of money on guns before, and I'll do it again, but I can't see doing it for something I really intend to shoot once and then hang on a wall next to some nice WWII recruiting posters.

So. People, you have from now until maybe April 27th to get your shit together. Go to the CMP website, download the paperwork. Get your forms notarized, and be ready to launch it to them so that it arrive on - but not one second before 30 April.

I have no concept of how fast these are going to go. The general consensus (I can find references, but not the original source page) is that there are about 30,000 carbines coming. Inland made roughly 43% of all carbines manufactured, so assuming the standard distribution of manufacturers holds true with this batch from Italy...that would give us 12,900 Inlands. Give or take a few hundred.

A few of the maniacs (and I say that lovingly) on the CMP sales forum seem to be holding out hope that they won't move fast at that price and that CMP will lower it. I dunno about all that.

It's hard to tell with obsessives. And old weapons collectors are nothing if not obsessive. I don't even have a good idea of how many are out there. There is no question in my mind that the CMP will have mail on 30 April. But will they have mail from the 40 guys who hang out on their forums, plus maybe another 100 people who lurk there? Will they have mail from 1,500 hysterical gun nuts? 15,000?

Hard to tell. But barring major weirdness, I will be one of the maniacs who sends them forms and money. I have to try it at least once. Plus, the CMP sends you the rifle via UPS. How cool is that?

20 March 2007

Things you see on the road

I was driving from Jacksonville, North Carolina west to I95 quite early yesterday morning. It's a pretty area, fairly agricultural. I was on a fairly major state highway, but it was a regular two-lane in a lot of places.

And what did I get stuck behind, ladies and gentlemen? I got stuck behind this.

Yep. That's a truck full of chickens.

In the words of my Dad, that reminds me of a song.

Unlike my Dad, however, I will not sing that song for you. I will merely provide you with a link where you may hear it. Don't buy the damn song - it's not that good. Just click on "preview" and you'll get all you want, I promise.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...John Anderson's classic, "Chicken Truck."
And yes - I do have this on CD.

Crazy Uncle Buddy - a Product Endorsement

Yep. That's two tails wagging for Carter's Canine Condos. After much driving, I picked the Bad Dogs up.

They're still knocked out on the couch. Apparently, a very good time was had by all.

The place is in Land O' Lakes, on Highway 41. Here's the setup. Apparently, Buddy (Buddy Carter) bought an older home and what looks like about 4 acres. He then set to knocking out walls. Most of the older home appeared to be half-walled. These areas are divided into "condos," with couches and windows. More than one dog can stay in a condo (mine stayed together), but the dogs can't mingle among condos.

Buddy promises to take them out every three hours - I have no reason to doubt he did. The entire premises is very securely fenced, and divided into several "yards" of varying sizes for various sizes of dog.

Best of all, it's obvious that Buddy is a dog nut. It's entirely possible that's he's totally insane, but really, when it comes to people who watch our dogs, that's not a bad thing.

If you need to send a dog to camp in Central Florida, give Buddy a holler. He's a weird one, but your dog will be safe, happy and tired when you get him back.

Oh yes - Buddy has a veterinarian that comes to the "condos" once a month. She does vaccinations on site (and affordably - I looked at the price list). I had her do the Bad Dogs' nails ($10 each - a bargain to not have to fuss with it myself).

19 March 2007

Seven down...one to go

Abby's Mom is damn near finished with chemo. Her last treatment is Thursday.

[I pause here for the barks, yaps and howls to die down]

Yep - she rocks. Now, during the course of her chemo, she has mostly opted to be a redhead. Which is cool. A lifelong blonde, she's gotten a kick out the opportunity to try something different (in her reports from Redheadland, she tells us that blondes do not have more fun - it's just a lie the redheads tell so nobody gets jealous).

However, a wig is a wig and sometimes one gets sicks of them. So, when her Emergency Room co-workers held the St. Patrick's day part, Mom said...ahh...screw the wig. Too easy to be a redhead on St. Patrick's Day. So Mom got festive.

Oh lord. I post the picture with her blessing.

She's beautiful, hey? This picture pretty much sums up how she's coped with all of this. Cry about it a little, swear about it a little, and laugh about it as much as is possible. It's pretty damn admirable.

I find the white shirt and hoop earring make her look slightly...piratical (if that's a word). Which is cool. Yaaargh! The guy with her is a co-worker. Her co-workers rock, and have been fabulous throughout this whole ordeal.

(Incidentally, Mom's birthday falls on International Talk Like a Pirate Day)

So - one more chemo, and then, rumor has it, maybe three or four weeks before there's any need to start looking for hair to start growing back.

And, just in case you were wondering how the Emergency Room staff manages to cope with the stresses of the job and still look so cheerful?

Jello shots. I don't know if I've been to an ER social function that didn't involve Jello shots.

The land that God forgot

I pulled off I95 and headed to the coast today. It was a pretty drive, because this is a pretty area. It smelled familiar, and I rolled my windows down. I drove onto Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Now, this is the part, where as an "old Marine," I should rant on about how the Corps has gone soft and ain't what it once was and is headed straight to Hell in a handbasket. But, ladies and gentlemen, that simply is not the case.

The uniforms have changed since I was there. That appears to be it.

I parked at the PX and took a little stroll over past 4th Recruit Training Battalion (the only place in the Marine Corps that trains female recruits - there aren't enough to justify opening an equivalent battalion at MCRD San Diego). No platoons were on the parade deck, so I wandered around to the front of the battalion. A couple of recruits were outside doing something mindless (raking the Pit). When I walked back, I heard that oh-so-familiar sound. One of them, apparently, had done fucked up. As I drew even with the Pit, a DI was hard at work "refocusing a recruit." The recruit was face down in the sand, doing pushups, and the DI was about two inches from her face.

"Oh, very well. Just drag your nasty body in my sand. PUSH!"

I kept walking. I drove around the Depot. It had only been shortly before graduation that I realized how small Parris Island really is, when I finally noticed that in order to make us "hump" far enough, we were recovering the same ground again and again. I drove past the rifle ranges - busy. Two full weeks are spent on the rifle range. The Corps truly believes in it. It's part of why it's such a special organization. That little cross-eyed female Marine admin clerk? She can spit in the wind, adjust the sights on her service rifle, and drop a man at 500 yards. It's a skill, but more important, it's a mindset.

A group of recruits were clustered near the gas chamber - I saw no snot, so they must have been in the "preparation" phase. I passed a PT field that also boasted an obstacle course. Amusingly, it was right across the road from a playground. Heh.

I drove back to Mainside and parked by the main parade deck. Four or five platoons from 1st Battalion were drilling. The all looked reasonably good, so I assume they were late in training. There were some other folks watching the drill, and they gasped a little when an irate senior drill instructor referred to his recruits' feet using a less-than-PC adjective.

As I drove off the island, taking great joy in my ability to drive myself off the Island that I once spent months dreaming of escaping, I saw a group of very new recruits being run ragged. Most of the group was engaging in some sort of semi-organized scrambling around, but one had apparently sinned more greatly. He was running, in a dramatic, arm-flapping manner and being followed by a DI. It was not a happy picture. The recruit looked ragged. The DI looked perfect. Three months from now, the recruit will be a Marine, and he will look damn near perfect, too.

That's what they do there.

I was struck, wandering around, that a lot of the DIs looked young to me. And that figures. A lot of them are sergeants, E5s. A lot are staff sergeants, E6s. And there are a very few E7 gunnery sergeants on the drill field. On paper, most of the DIs would be my peers or my juniors. But not in reality. When I was in the Marine Corps, I knew I could never do that job. It takes a level of dedication and committment that I can never imagine mustering. The hours are long, the scrutiny is neverending, and the stress is ungodly. I still realize, perhaps even more keenly, that the drill instructors are far better Marines than I ever was. It takes an immense amount of confidence to hold yourself up as the standard of Marine Corps perfection. And they do it. Because they are just that good.

Anyway, a cool stop. I'm holed up just off the base in a random chain motel with internet access. My early start means I could still be on the road, but I'm tired, so I think I'll just chill in Port Royal this evening. I might drive up the road and try to find a place for dinner where I can watch the sun set over the salt marsh. The sunsets were always beautiful here, and I can only imagine how much nicer they'd be with a cold beer in hand.

An additional note. The goddamn sonuvabitch sandfleas are alive and well, too. And healthy and hungry. They chewed the shit out of me. I goddam hate sandfleas.

Monday morning outbound

I just launched Mr. Abby out the door from our romantic-yet-slightly-seedy weekend location back to his class. I'm awake (yes, it is an ungodly hour) and, after one more nice hotel shower, will be on the road again.

With such an early start, I could make it home today with no problem. But I'm contemplating a different stop for the night, since I noticed on the way here that 95 runs close to the water in southern South Carolina. There's an island in the coastal swamp there that I visited once and left ten years ago which I think I'd like to see again, so a stop may be in order.

I have to admit that I love being on the road by myself. I really really love being on the road by myself without the Bad Dogs. I'm getting pretty good at traveling with them, but it makes everything a production. It's nice to be able to stop and get out and go in to eat without worry that they'll cook, freeze, eat someone, or escape.

Key to a happy Road Trip is decent music. When I made the Georgia Run last weekend I somehow managed to leave the CDs at home, and so I was dependent on the radio and the one George Strait CD I had in the Jeep. Not so this time, so it's a hoot.

My drive will take me back by Fayetteville. I smiled getting off the highway there on the way in. I deployed out of and returned to Fort Bragg, so all the road signs brought back memories of driving around, trying to find the right piece of gear before we left, trying to find a coffee place, looking for the perfect bar.

I won't stop anywhere there, but maybe at the island down south. Who'd'a thunk I95 would turn out to be Memory Lane?

OK. Enough disjointed morning rambling. A shower and some clothes. Then there's a Dunkin' Donuts about a mile down the road, and I can hear something horribly unhealthy but oh-so-yummy calling my name.