05 October 2007

Strange visions

from the strip mall down the road.

We'll file that under "things that make you say huh."

04 October 2007

Flagrant Social Errors

You don't watch the news for a couple days, and suddenly, it's Flag Mania when you finally tune in.

We've got a guy out in Nevada, old Army man, who apparently finally got a serious case of the red-ass about a Mexican-run business that was in the habit of flying both the Mexican and American flags, but with the Mexican flag on top.

So he cut 'em down, took the American flag home with him and left the Mexican flag lying in the road.

"I was immediately infuriated and felt a duty to do something about it," Broussard said. "I feel there's a lot of this turning-our-heads-on-things in concern with the Hispanic community and the things they do. They seem impervious to our laws in a lot of situations."

We're going to just leave the whole immigration issue out of our discussion. Let's focus on the flag part.

We've got an ethnic business that chooses to fly the flags of both its country and the U.S. That's cool. If they'd chosen to fly only the Mexican flag, that would even be cool. I have no problem with Britsh pubs that fly only the Union Jack, either.

But...if your business is not an embassy, don't hang out in this country and fly our flag in the subordinate position. You're making a statement by doing that, and to a lot of us, it's a statement of fightin' words.

I am myself prone to the occasional action in anger, and have uttered some less-than-well-considered words. I like to think I'd have been a more or collected woman in that position, but...well, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Note to our foreign friends hanging out in the U.S. - quite a few of us who are otherwise happy to have you here will get quite cranky if you choose to take a metaphorical shit on our iconography. So don't do it.

Okay. Next flag-related issue. Obama Stops Wearing Flag Pin

Before we go any further, I must make a confession. I have an American flag pin, and I've worn it exactly twice in the past 18 months.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin because it has become a substitute for "true patriotism" since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That's actually a pretty interesting idea. I don't know about the word "substitute," because I really haven't heard anyone say something like:
I was going to join the Marines as an 0311 but I decided it might just be simpler to wear this flag pin; or
I was going to run for office to try to make this country what I think it should be, but I decided I'd rather just keep working at the bank and wear this flag pin instead; or
I was going to volunteer at the VA one weekend a month but I decided I look better in this pin than in candystripes.

But the idea is interesting. Why is the flag pin de rigueur for every political man in a suit and political women in dark jackets? It's one of those things that everyone just did after 9/11 and now it's kinda awkward to stop.

There's no really socially acceptable way to say Yes, I love my country, but my granddaughter gave me the nicest pin for Father's Day, and I thought I'd really rather wear that once in a while.

So let's not wrap around the axle about this silly flag pin thing. Let's not allow that to stand in for really measuring a candidate, politician, or anyone else.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," [Obama] said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

Honestly, I can work with that.

On Thursday, his campaign issued a statement: "We all revere the flag, but Senator Obama believes that being a patriot is about more than a symbol. It's about fighting for our veterans when they get home and speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war."

We know more or less where the Senator stands. I don't agree with him about the War. But, the same part of me that looks at Mr. Broussard tearing down badly-flown flags in Nevada and says, "well, the man's gotta do what the man's gotta do," with a little bit of admiration looks at Senator Obama the same way. He's gotta do what he's gotta do, and we'll judge him by his actions, rather than his jewelry.

03 October 2007

Bud's Gun Shop - Two Wagging Tails

I held off on this one, because a little problem cropped up and I wanted to see how it would work itself out.

We are, I assume, familiar with the saga of Dad and the Puma rifle.

So. The rifle got to Evil Hometown FFL yesterday (and they're maybe not so evil, although for some reason we always thought they were evil when I was growing up). I got home and had a message from them.

Called Michigan.

"Yeah...umm...Bud's sent that up to you, so we can only transfer it to you."

Dude, WTF? I'm in Texas, you can't transfer it to me.

"Yeah, but it's a federal law thing..."

[sigh] I'll call Bud's and we'll see what our options are.

So I called last night and spoke to a very nice woman (although I regret I do not remember her name), who recommended immediately that I call Brandon this morning, since he is the Fixer of Problems. So I did.

Hey, Brandon. This is Abby, and here's the issue...

"Hmm...well, we shipped to you because you bought it -"

Brandon, the delivery address throughout has been Dad in Michigan, and that's why he sent in a personal check to pay for it.

"He paid for it? With a personal check? Okay - then this shouldn't have happened. Let me check into this, and I'll email you back."

That was at 0812 (Texas Time).

At 0835...an email.

The comments for your order are

We have faxed a copy a new receipt to the dealer, they were going to call you, and make sure everything was okay. They said they would transfer the gun for you father.

That's what I'm talking about. This afternoon we'll know if Hometown Dealer (see, I have temporarily removed the "Evil" prefix) can functionally have someone fill out a 4473.

At least someone in the Bad Dog extended family gets a new gun. [wanders off to compulsively check the CMP E-store]

Clearing the air

Please excuse a public airing of information for some of those close to me I have not had an opportunity to communicate directly with.

Dear Don and Barb next door,

I am very sorry about last night. That barking that probably woke you up at 0440 was my dog, Jack. Fortunately, it only took until 0442 for me to realize that the barking was coming from my back yard, and that it meant I'd left the bedroom door open and the dogs were out.

If you slept through the barking, then the loud "get in the house this second or I swear I will shoot you in the head," was also me, and I was talking to the dog. Don't worry. I promise we'll not let him out to do that again.

Thanks for putting up with us,


Got another one.

Dear Mr. Abby,

The stuff you stepped in this morning on the way to the shower was shredded mozarella cheese. I'm sorry I didn't clean it up last night, but you were already asleep and I didn't want to run the vacuum.

That also explains why there was a package of shredded mozarella on top of your dresser. It was after midnight when I heard strange sounds and realized the dogs had stolen the cheese off the counter after supper and smuggled it into our room. Perhaps because I realized I'd be screaming in the yard at 0443, I really just wanted to sleep, so I took it away and put it on your dresser where they couldn't get it. I figured we probably weren't going to eat it anyway.

Thanks for putting up with us,


02 October 2007

The paperchase

is a side of military life so godawful that lots of military folks don't even bother explaining it. You'll hear things like, "Then I spent six weeks at Fort Leonard Wood for no apparent reason. One of those paperwork things." It's one of those horrifying things you have to get used to even as you're initially recruited. Which is all part of why I laughed as I checked the Sitemeter. Today's hit:

Oh, son... The answer is - slightly less time than it takes to get orders off a Pacific island, but longer than it takes to get a tattoo waiver.

MEPS paperwork normally takes slightly longer than is required for a military task force to get an official "release from theater" letter so they can be deactivated (two weeks of sitting at a demob station), but less time than it takes to get awarded an Army MOS after completing the qualification course (2.5 years).

MEPS paperwork takes less time than is required to replace TO&E weapons lost in a fire in a war zone (5 weeks), but more time than is required to get on a Marine Corps flight manifest from Thailand to Kadena Air Base (four days).

MEPS paperwork takes long than a Fort Bragg urine-based pregnancy test (3 hours) and less time than waiting to begin training for MOS school (four weeks or more).

Short answer, my visitor-who-didn't-stay-long, is that MEPS paperwork takes probably 2.5-3 weeks, sometimes less, and often more.

More thorough answer...make copies, and get used to the paperwork always being jacked up. You'll get used to it, and you'll learn to work with it. But for the love of God, son, remember to make copies.

What has a gal gotta do

to get some guns around here???

I just got off the phone with Bud's Gun Shop in Kentucky about Dad's .45 LC. Although it had gone to "shipped" over the weekend, I still didn't have a tracking number. So I called, and, "yeah, our tracking numbers are down, it left Saturday."

Yikes! Had to make a call Evil Hometown FFL to give them a heads-up (and Dad's number, 'cause I think he forgot to include it).

Meanwhile, in guns that are actually destined for my grubby little hands...the CMP had a certain number of Garands inspected and ready to go. They were shipping them out just days after receiving the orders.

So I sent mine in, and, apparently, right before they got to filling mine, they ran out of the inspected rifles. So, it seems, I'm waiting on them to open crates and inspect more.

Which is cool. It's not like I'm without a rifle until it arrives. But still....

01 October 2007

Tales from the Customer Service desk - Lucy Laceration

Once upon a time there was a woman. The woman, one day, said to herself, What I need are some knives. Very cheap knives.

Fortunately, there was a company out there that could without any difficulty ship her as many cheap folding knives as she required. She found that company and ordered 20 or so slightly varying cheap folding knives, which were then shipped to her house.

The woman, we'll call her Lucy, opened the box and reached in to remove the packing paper on the top of the box.

Ouch! She exclaimed. One of the knives had magically opened, rotated itself into an upright position, and attacked her as she removed the packing paper. Lucy was bleeding, but that didn't stop her from digging further into the box.

Ouch! she exclaimed again. Much to her surprise, it seemed all of the cheap knives had escaped their boxes, locked into the open position, and had been waiting to strike. She had suffered yet another cut. Not easily deterred, Lucy made a third attempt to remove the knives from the box, which resulted in yet a third laceration.

This isn't very much fun at all, thought Lucy. Perhaps I should have my husband help me with this.

Lucy called her beloved to her side. Honey, she said, all these knives seem to be open and to have ill intent. I keep reaching into the box, and they keep cutting me. Can you help me?

Lucy's husband was like every other husband on earth - he looooooved to feel useful. Best of all was when he could feel useful by doing something for his wife that she couldn't do herself. His chest swelled and his armpits grew more rank as the testosterone surged.

Sure, little lady! He plunged his hand into the Box-O-Sharpness, then shrieked like a little girl. He, too, had been viciously lacerated!

Lucy and her husband stood back and looked at the Box-O-Sharpness. This crate of cheap knives was obviously out to get them. It had been packed by people with evil intent. Perhaps it had been waylaid enroute to their home, and all the knives opened and poised to cause maximum damage. Whatever the story, the situation was obviously Not Right.

So! They called the company from which Lucy had ordered the knives. They talked to a Very Nice Man who answered the phone and who obviously felt their pain. He assured them they'd be contacted by someone very soon, someone who would help them sort through all the pain and suffering they'd experienced. Perhaps, Lucy thought as she hung up the phone, the person who called them would offer freebies! Or some other sort of compensation. Because, really, when you're attacked by a giant box of $3 knives, you deserve nothing so much as compensation. This is America!

Lucy waited by the phone for an hour, then it rang. The voice at the other end identified itself as Abby, from the Fixin' Problems department at Box-O-Knives, Inc.

Lucy told her sad story. She recounted the way the first knife had been lurking, as if part of an intricately designed booby trap, right under the box lid. She recounted the way the other knives had also attacked her. And finally she recounted the way her husband had also been the victim of these vicious knives.

She concluded her story, certain that Box-O-Knives, Inc was trembling already, visualizing a lawsuit that would decimate the company. She waited for the verdict, wondering what the freebie would be. A referral to the Legal Dept to talk about a cash settlement? 500 free cheap-ass knives? The anticipation was overwhelming.

"Y'all cut yourself multiple times reaching into a cardboard box?" said Abby. She didn't sound impressed, but maybe that was simply the cold horror of a potential civil suit dawning on her.

Yes, yes, Lucy assured her. Several times. Reaching into the same box. Every time we reached into the box, we were cut!

"You can return them if you want, but since they are obviously sharp, I don't know that we'll find them defective." Lucy could have sworn Abby stopped for a drink of something. "Either way, you're going to need to box them up and send them back here so we can look at them."

But we cut ourselves! Lucy pointed out. Repeatedly!

"I have to assume," said Abby. "given the fact that none of these are auto-opening knives, that's what we'd refer to as operator error."

Are you saying it's our fault we cut ourselves? Lucy shrieked.

"That's certainly what I'd be inclined to think," Abby responded. "Are we clear on the return procedure?"

Lucy hung up and cried. Abby hung up, giggled, and went out for a cigarette.

I am a domestic goddess

but nobody's here to witness my miracles.

Mr. Abby took off on a Home Depot run almost an hour ago. There's a Home Depot very near us, so I sent him off with the promise, "I'll have dinner ready when you get back."

Of course, our Home Depot is out of what he needed (or didn't have quite enough, or something). So he's at the Wichita Falls Home Depot or some such place, I have chicken rapidly making the transition to jerky in the oven, and I'm not certain what's going on with the flavored rice but it can't be good.

However, other than getting a little mushy, I don't think that the steamed frozen veggies can go too far stray.

Famous last words, there.

30 September 2007

Tiki Bar Weekend

We thought about devoting our weekend to volunteering for some "cause," whereby we could contribute to making the world a better place.

In the end, we decided to continue working on Project Drinkin' Spot - that is, the tiki bar.

If you recall, when we last visited the subject, we had a structure, but nothing more.

This weekend, we wrestled the beast out of the garage and stained it.

Okay. The stain was a little dark, when I first took it in, but I had to keep remembering that:
A) there's varnish to come
B) and bamboo

So we turned our attention to the uprights. We'd been thinking of using beer bottle labels and lacquering them on, but that just wasn't doing it, vision-wise, so we went another direction.

Can't beat rope (note to self - requires roughly 40 feet of 3/4 inch manila rope to tightly wind 2.5 feet of 4x4). Once that was done, we lined the bartop itself with a 3/8 inch manila rope, then added "pieces of flair," and began the epoxy party.

This epoxy stuff (comes in a box, two bottles that need to be combined, costs an arm and a leg) is great. Totally transparent, I've got four boxes on, and can read through it. Good stuff. You have to be aware of dust (and avoid it for about three hours), and you have to watch out for bugs. And, as you can see above, you can apply a little heat to remove any bubbles.

All of these steps, of course, work best when performed with beer.

Remaining steps include another couple packages of epoxy, installing the bamboo (it's cut to size already), lacquering the bits that still need it, and then - the thatch. That one is going to be an adventure.