Archive for January, 2005

Not Kosher

I took the day off to do some things around the house. Needing some fuel, I raided the fridge to assemble breakfast… the result:

English muffin + goat cheese + smoked salmon + bacon!

Hey, Dumbass! It's winter time again

Buy some god damn winter tires. Global warming has yet to transform Pittsburgh into the tropics… it snows here every year, yet you are still trying get by with shitty all-seasons. Sure they might have enough grip to get through a mild winter when they are brand new, but have you looked at them recently? Just a few thousand miles and they are worthless when the snow flies. This goes double for SUV drivers! 4WD doesn't help at all when you are trying to stop, and that's what you need to do to avoid an accident, and that giant SUV is a lot of mass to bring to a stop.

Go to Tirerack order a set of dedicated winter tires mounted on cheap steel rims. They'll deliver them mounted and balanced complete with all the necessary hardware. They are surprisingly cheap, and a set should last you for several seasons. It only takes me about 30 minutes to switch over… any gargage will do it for about $20. Hell, if I know you, I'll put them on for free.

prom and homecoming dresses

more on shooting

I spent another evening last week shooting IPSC practice. It was definitely fun, I returned home with a considerable pile of spent brass. But I must admit, even as a life-long shooter, I find combat pistol shooting a somewhat guilty pleasure.

It is easier for me to see controlled target shooting (slow-fire pistol, archery, or otherwise) as a pure discipline. It's only partially about things going *bang* (which is admittedly fun all by itself.) It is more about developing skill and control of your body and mind. There is nothing difficult about firing a gun, but doing so consistently and with a high degree of accuracy is deceptively difficult.

In many ways, combat pistol shooting is no different. In fact, it may require an even greater degree of discipline. While practice shooting is unable to capture the stress of a truly hostile situation, shooting endlessly variable scenarios against the clock places high demands on a shooter's abilities. Speed & nerves makes you stupid. Hitting a human torso sized target at 5yds hardly seems like a challenge… Try doing it at high speed, with poor lighting, with a large caliber pistol, while engaging multiple targets. Combat shooting is not like what you see in the movies… well, maybe it's a bit like being a bad guy in the movies that can't seem to hit a damn thing. In the last few weeks I have developed considerable respect for those that can do this well.

However, I am a bit unnerved by some of the undertones of combat shooting. While practice is just fun and games, I can't help thinking about it in terms of real life and death situations. Also, I can hardly imagine anything more psychologically resonant than a loaded pistol in your hand. For me the combination can be like a window to the soul… If I imagine being mugged, or someone breaking into my house… what do I do? what do they look like? (black or white?) If I had a gun in my hand would I feel more in control? Would I shoot to kill? How would I feel afterwards? I can't say I comfortable with all my answers.

I fought the law and…

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were coming back from the sportsman's club. Deb suggested we take a different way home… so we drove through senic Wall, PA.

We were driving along, and the next thing I know I'm being pulled over by the police. I had spent the day shooting so I was a bit tired, and got a bit nervous. The cop informed me that I had run a stop sign. I didn't even remember seeing a stop sign. I got my ticket and drove on, wondering how I could have missed it.

I went back the next day to investigate. It was a perfect series of unfortunate events that led to me completely missing the sign. A large white utility trailer was parked in the driveway in front of the sign, obscuring the sign from a distance. Once you could actually see past the trailer, the sign was again obscured by a telephone pole. The intersection wasn't much of an intersection either… it wasn't obvious that a stop sign would be there.

So I was prepared to recite a litany of migtagating factors (sounds better than excuses) at my hearing this morning, and throw myself on the tender mercy of the court.

The North Versailles (pronounced Ver-sale-s, yes, we're hicks) district court is in the old Eastland Mall, as dreary a place as you could imagine. There were a half dozen people waiting for a 9am hearing. It was a pretty sad looking lot.

4 people were called ahead of me. Finally I was called in, along with some other girl. I thought it was weird that we would be in front of the magistrate together. He explained that we had both been ticketed for the same offense, although at different intersections. He said “I only want an answer to this question: Did you stop at the stop sign?

I launched into my brilliant defense: “No.”

He turned to the girl and asked the same question… She answered “Well the cop was really rude…” I couldn't believe the nerve of this girl. After 5 minutes of repeated questioning she finally admited, that she might not have fully stopped.

I was ready to start pleading my case when it was explained that both our tickets were dismissed, and that we would be receiving a refund of our fine within the next week or two.

That was it.

Justice triumphs again… or something.

On hunting deer

The weather was unseasonably warm Saturday, 52F in Johnstown on Jan 1st certainly isn't typical. It did not necessarily make hunting any more comfortable. I was lightly dressed and still sweating on Monday when it was 10F. It was a lot easier to move with stealth, but this seemed to be offset by a much more mobile and wary deer herd. On Monday I could creep into shooting distance as the deer seemed loathe to leave their beds. On Friday I saw lots of deer, but they kept me well out of range.

Archery hunting is primarily done from a tree stand, or occassionally a blind. Stalking is tough going, as mother nature has given a considerable advantage to deer with their keen sense of smell and hearing. The difficult terrain, brush, and my less than ninja-like stealth add to this advantage. I guessed that another day of stalking would yield similar results to Friday. My ankles weren't keen on another few hours of that hillside either.

I lucked out on Saturday. Something had spooked the deer in my direction. At first I thought they had seen me and were moving out of range… but as I watched they got closer. They had no idea I was there. So I nocked an arrow and waited. Minutes later deer were streaming past me on both sides. I only had a narrow shooting window through the brush, and they were really moving. Thanks to a vertiable deer traffic jam, one paused in the open. I took a shot and… nothing.

My arrow just seemed to disappear, and the deer took a few steps forward and passed out of view behind the brush. I started to doubt myself, and prepared to take a shot at the next deer. I soon realized that the deer I shot at wasn't moving ahead with the rest of the herd, and a few seconds later it crashed through the brush and landed in a heap. I got a deer.

I gave my wife & mother a call (mobile phones are pretty nifty in the woods) and they quickly joined me in the woods. They retreated to a safe distance as I prepared to do the gutting. It was a job I wasn't really looking forward to, but it wasn't as unpleasant as I feared.

Dragging the deer out wasn't going to be easy. We tried going up, but that was a heart attack waiting to happen. The long way… 1/2mi down to an access road turned out to be much easier. For part of the way we tied the deer to a pole, and my mother (yes, my mom is pretty cool) and I carried it out like a couple of natives.

Can't wait till next season.

A great way to start the new year

Details to follow tomorrow. It's been a long day.

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