January 10, 2021: Bend Over, Here It Comes Again
Well, we are ten days into the new year and it's just as awful as the old one, so far. Our Revered And Beloved Governor
Blackface Northam, He Whom No One Can Praise Too Highly, has imposed more Draconian measures, including a midnight to six AM curfew that even He (All Praise Be Unto Him) admits can't and won't be enforced, but by God, you'd better not violate it or else.
The pandemic continues to "rage" and The Talking Heads on what passes for "news" keep putting on their Frowny Faces and assuring us that WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! any minute now, but if somehow COVID doesn't get us, Global Warming will; if that doesn't work, the Impending Doom from tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and so forth will finish the job. Needless to say, the distribution of the vaccines is screwed up, and in any case is based on Racism, but surely President Biden, when he comes down on to us on his Golden Cloud on January 20th, will make it all better again.
Hunting season is over. It's too effing cold to fish. Life is even more meaningless and bleak than usual, but to look on the bright side, if I wear a mask I can go fishing so long as I stay at least 6 feet away from the fish I catch. God alone knows if fish can carry COVID, but you can't be too careful.
January 20, 2021: Inauguration Day
Well, it has happened. We now can all celebrate the accession of President Biden, who has come down to us in His Magnificence to drive away the Evil Beast, and who has promised that He will be "...a President for all Americans." Presumably "all Americans" excludes certain people: gun owners, NRA members, hunters, and anyone who voted for his opponent.
As it happens, I have attended a few Inaugurations, and actually participated peripherally in one: Richard Nixon's second in 1973. Very peripherally: I was one of a few dozen Department of Defense photographers designated to document the occasion: that's me in the photo at left, indicated by the arrow. I was perched on a platform some 30 feet behind Tricky Dick. I went to Ronald Reagan's first one as well.
In those innocent days upwards of a quarter of a million people would be present as spectators, standing on the Mall. Not this time. When President Biden was sworn in, there were—are you ready for this?—half a million flags instead. This was a reaction to the January 6th incident at the Capitol, as was the presence of 25,000 armed National Guardsmen to protect President Biden from the people. I suppose half a million flags were cheaper than half a million cardboard cut-outs like the ones used at sports events to simulate a crowd. It will be interesting to see if actual, live spectators are ever permitted at any Inauguration ceremony ever again. I'm betting not. They're much harder to control than flags. I don't understand why there has to be such a spectacle at all. Calvin Coolidge was sworn in to the presidency in his father's front parlor (left); even LBJ took the oath more or less privately, aboard Air Force One. The event as it is now carried out is nothing more than theatrical tricks designed to puff up the incoming Leader Of The Free World.
Needless to say, the Talking Heads in the "news" media are over the moon about seeing President Biden in office. The male Talking Heads are straining their fly buttons and the female Talking Heads are leaving wet spots on their swivel chairs. There is traditionally a "honeymoon period" for incoming Presidents, but eventually the Talking Heads remember that their real job is to tear down the country, regardless of who's in office. So they start sniping at the new man. I wonder how long it will take for them to turn on President Biden? In the case of his predecessor, the venom started flowing long before the 2016 election, and kept up for four long years. President Biden will in time get his share of it. But because he is nothing more than a senile buffoon who's a stalking horse for the hard Left, it will be because he isn't pushing the Left's agenda hard enough.
January 22, 2021: Busted Gun
I have a bird shoot set up for the 27th of this month; when my friend Phil suggested we should go shoot some clay pigeons to get ready, I was happy to go along. I'm a terrible wingshot and really ought to practice more, but what with one thing and another and the ammunition shortage, I never got "a round tuit."
I was planning to take my Stevens 311 double barrel for the shoot, and it's a good thing we went out to practice yesterday. Last season the gun doubled on me—and with heavy loads it actually me knocked down!—and damned if it didn't double again yesterday, shooting some very light stuff. Plus I had a very hard time getting it open, and now the right barrel won't drop the hammer.
We have no gunsmiths in this area to speak of. There is one elderly gentleman who is very good, and with whom I've done business many times, but he is well up into his late 80's and not in the best of health. I have a real fear I might leave the gun with him and never get it back if he died. So I started making contacts.
Of course I contacted Savage through their web site, but so far I have heard nothing at all from them. Given their current production I strongly suspect they won't do repairs on a shotgun built in 1981. I think in the end I'll take it to Sportsman's Warehouse. They have a gun repair service, but they send the gun to Salt Lake City for the work; you have to drop the gun off at one of their stores. Luckily they have a store in Roanoke, 45 miles away from my home: the next nearest store is 4 hours away in West Virginia.
Given the virulently anti-gun atmosphere now pervading what passes for a government in Virginia, I was concerned that if I went through the store I'd have to go through Governor
Blackface's Dr Ralph "Mr Rogers" Northam's (May His Name Be Praised Forever) idiotic background check again, to get my own damned gun back. Considering the hoops I had to jump through to get the gun in Washington DC in 1981 (see the log entry for February 2, 2020) I would have been mightily honked. However, it seems that Federal law applies to this situation, not state law—at least until the Democrats in the General Assembly find out about it—and I don't have to do so. The gun is checked in as a "Repair," and Federal law allows it to be returned to me directly without any additional bullshit. Sportsman's Warehouse charges $20 to ship it, I'll get an estimate for the repair ($45 for that) and once it's fixed it's shipped back to the Roanoke store where I can pick it up.
It's pretty obvious that that Virginia is rapidly turning into "Kalifornia Lite" and I'm not the least bit happy about that. But it's what happens when we elect Democrats.
So on Wednesday I'll be taking my 20-gauge double with some high brass loads of #4's and hope for the best. I can probably miss birds with a 20 as well as a 12. Maybe even better.
January 25, 2021: Another Practice Session
Phil and I went out to the range yesterday to do some more practice shooting, and boy, do we need it. He brought along a couple of double shotguns for me to try: a Stoeger SxS made in Brazil, a big clunky 12 gauge; and a "Remington" O/U made in Russia. No wonder Remington went bust: when America's oldest gunmaker has to sell Russian guns under their brand name, you know things have gone to pot. That said, the gun did have some redeeming qualities, including ejectors, which the Stoeger did not.
I brought my 20-gauge "Churchill" double, actually a Spanish gun sold by Kassnar many years ago. It was made by Zabala Hermanos, a decent second- or third-tier firm. Not to be compared with the high-end Spanish guns, but for a budget double it's very nice with features I like: a straight grip, splinter fore-end, and selective ejectors. For some reason, virtually all inexpensive shotguns have pistol grip stocks, but this one doesn't. I bought it from the Kittery Trading Post some years back at a bargain price and have used it for a few seasons. (By the way, KTP has a huge selection of used guns. Well worth checking their site if you're in the market.) We shot a bit better than we did in the first session, but not too much better. I actually managed to hit some clays. The "Remington" O/U seemed to shoot pretty well for me. On the whole I prefer SxS guns, because I'm a mossbacked old fogey; but I used an O/U in Argentina and am beginning to weaken in my belief that O/U's with single triggers are the work of Satan. Unfortunately the single trigger on that "Remington" isn't selective. It always fires the lower barrel first.
My sciatica was really bad and I had to cut the session short. I'm probably going to have to crap out on the bird shoot tomorrow, as well. Maybe I should call the White House: President Biden has promised to fix all the country's ills, why not start with me?
January 29, 2021: Bird Shoot & President Biden Comes Through, Maybe
After postponing our annual bird shoot for a couple of days, I was feeling well enough to go out today. Normally we do this on SUPER BOWL SUNDAY because neither Phil nor I give a damn about the SUPER BOWL, but when we called to set it up John Holland told us he was running out of quail, and if we wanted to be sure of having them, we'd better come before then. I go for pheasants but Phil is a Quail Man, so we did as advised. We were supposed to have gone last Wednesday (the 27th) but my leg was in such bad shape there was no way I could do that. After a couple of days on ice and stoked to the eyeballs with very stiff doses of painkillers, I was marginally able to manage it today. The weather was perfect except for being very cold (in the low 20's) but there was no wind I could use as an excuse for bad shooting. I'd brought my "Churchill" 20-gauge double and a couple of boxes of high-brass #4's. I like 4's for pheasants. Phil was shooting his old corn-shucking Browning A-5 12 gauge, complete with Polychoke, using 7-1/2's. I paid for 4 pheasants, and we got them all. Phil paid for something like 18 quail and got at least 16, so we did OK.
The Pheasants on the truck
My field shooting is better than my target practice: I actually managed to hit some birds (including a couple of quail, one of which I knocked ass over teakettle at a very respectable range). I'm not sure why this is the case, but perhaps it has to do with the size of the birds versus a clay pigeon, and perhaps also because with live birds I concentrate better. Or maybe I don't concentrate at all: seems to me sometimes that when I'm not thinking about a shot, I connect more often than not. I really need to go back to Argentina and get some more "live bird" practice.
About half the quail, Phil got the rest later after this was taken
I managed to hobble around for a couple of hours, and once we'd disposed of the pheasants, Phil and John went off to a farther field to pursue the remaining quail while I remained in the truck. An ice pack on my right hip made the day tolerable with respect to pain. I'm not sure what will happen next year when I've even older and feebler than I am now, but what the hell, by then I may be dead and won't care.
On the way home I took my Stevens 311 shotgun to Sportsman's Warehouse to be repaired. They'll send it out tomorrow by Useless Parcel Service, and I'll be notified when it's fixed. The shelves at SW are bare: they still have a few handguns and some high-end shotguns but of ammunition there was almost none. Even shotgun shells: there were one or two boxes of 28 gauge loads, a few 5-round boxes of slugs and buckshot in larger sizes, and that was it. Zero rifle ammo, absolutely zero in the way of primers or other reloading components. Looks like President Biden will be an even better salesman for the gun industry than Obama was.
Speaking of President Biden, yesterday I got a call from the Montgomery County Health Department. It seems that as an Officially Certified Geezer, I am now eligible to be saved from death by getting my COVID-19 vaccine, so I was invited to come and get it done in three weeks (if I haven't died by then, of course).
Now I have this question: once I'm immune to the virus, I can't get it, right? And if I can't get it and don't have it, I can't transmit it to anyone else, right? So..WHY IN THE HELL DO I STILL HAVE TO WEAR A !@$#!%$!@#$%!! MASK?
February 10, 2021: No Comment Needed
February 11, 2021: A Common Stupidity
There are many stupid things in this world.
This is the season when I get end-of-year statements from various investments and every single one of them includes a page like the one at the left.
Now, is there anything that could be considered stupider than a page printed with the words:
"THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK"?
Quite obviously if it has words of any kind printed on it, then IT ISN'T BLANK, intentionally or otherwise.
I'm flabbergasted at the mindset that produces such imbecility. Honest to God, you can't make this shit up. I have to wonder if there isn't some sort of government regulation that requires financial institutions to do things like this. And if there is, I'll bet that somewhere it includes a page with nothing written on it except "This Page Intentionally Left Blank."
February 12, 2021: What You Need, Just In Case
The Forces Of Darkness are determined to deprive us of our guns, but—so far, except for New York and New Jersey —they haven't cottoned on to this incredibly dangerous Assault Slingshot, complete with adjustable sights, a Picatinny rail, a laser, and places to mount a proper slingshot scope. In time they will, in time...but for now, it behooves every one of us to buy a $200 slingshot that also shoots arrows. And put it in a bug-out bag in case we have to bug out. And be forewarned: this is not a toy, and use common sense, for God's sake. Whatever you do, don't use one of these to hold up a bank! The manufacturer will void the warranty if you do.
No doubt this is the slingshot of choice for criminals, who, equipped with it, will "outsling" the police. How can our society continue to tolerate releasing this incredibly deadly weapon into the hands of the public? The last thing we need is Slingshots Of War on our streets! But the National Slingshot Association stands in the way of the proper, common-sense slingshot control we need NOW!
February 15, 2021: Presidents' Day
Today is Presidents' Day, a remarkably minor national holiday, on which we celebrate the lives and accomplishments of some notable luminaries of American history. In the past Abraham Lincoln and George Washington had their birthdays celebrated separately in February (the 12th and the 22nd, respectively) but in these more enlightened times that tradition has been done away with. Lincoln, who ended slavery, and Washington, who founded the nation, now get to share a celebratory experience with the likes of William Henry Harrison (left) whose 31-day administration ended when he died of pneumonia after getting wet in his inaugural parade; and the dim and deservedly forgotten Millard Fillmore (right) who signed the Fugitive Slave Act. Fillmore started out as a Whig but in 1852 was nominated by the Know-Nothing Party, a switch which seems appropriate. Franklin Pierce is also celebrated on this Day Of All Days, though nobody remembers what the hell Pierce did except carp that abolition was a "fundamental threat" to the Union, and enforce the Fugitive Slave Act with a vengeance.
Then there is the stalwart William Jefferson Clinton, the Draft-Evader-In-Chief whose penchant for getting blow jobs from 21-year-old White House interns got him into a minor spot of trouble, but who charmed his way out of it—as he did with most things, including military service—with the help of his alleged wife.
February 18, 2021: A Shot In The Arm
Well, yesterday Mrs Outdoorsman and I went and got our first COVID-iocy shots. We had been called a couple of weeks ago by the Health Department. Originally we were given appointments for today, the 18th: but the weather forecast was for an ice storm that would surely destroy the planet, and even if it didn't would certainly kill everyone in Montgomery County. Therefore a second phone call three days ago told us that our Thursday appointments were cancelled, please come on Wednesday to be saved from Death.
The shots were given in the Whoopin' and Screamin' Holy Church of Jesus Christ Lord God In The Foothills, located in a strip mall on US Route 11. At one time the venue was an "event center" for things like weddings but there weren't enough "events" to keep it in business. So now it's a church, complete with a children's play area, an anteroom, and a humongous theater-like space with comfortable chairs suitable for jumping up and waving your arms in ecstasy, a neon-lit stage—on which were a drum set and an electric keyboard, which gave us a pretty clear idea of how the services are run. There were also a number of accessory TV monitors, smaller versions of the kind you see in basketball arenas. No matter how far you were from the stage—sorry, I mean the altar, or at least the drum set—you could see what was going on.
After entering via the play area we were moved into the anteroom, where dozens of volunteer workers were checking people in. That's when the fun started. Mrs Outdoorsman was directed to one desk and checked in; I was sent to a different desk where the volunteer couldn't find my name on "the list." I explained that our appointments had been changed but she had to track down a more experienced volunteer to find me. It turned out that while Mrs Outdoorsman had been listed under our last name, for reasons known only to the Health Department, I was listed under my first name. By the way, we had to show identification. I have no idea why, but these days you almost have to show ID to use a public toilet, so it's to be expected they'd demand it to save your life, no? Luckily my first name is on my driver's license. No driver's license? No shot. You can just go out into the parking lot and die, unidentified scum.
There were at least a dozen police officers in attendance, from both county and town forces. Perhaps if you didn't have an ID and didn't deserve a shot, they were the ones to chuck you out?
Once the snafu with my name on the list was resolved, I received a little card and was told to move on the the next spot, where the shot-givers (shooters?) were waiting. Snap it up, keep moving, folks, nothing to see here and there are people waiting to have their lives saved.
The shooters were in yet another large room, at tables, two shooters per table. I was directed to a genial woman who seemed to know what she was doing. She asked me which arm I wanted to get the shot in; I told her to take her choice. "I'll do it in your right arm, that's the closest one." There was a large Golden Retriever asleep on the floor next to the table. I asked if the dog was there to get a shot, and was told, "He's already had his." She then wrote the date for my second shot on the little card. We'd been told that the second shot should come two weeks after the first, so naturally I was told to come back in a month.
After the shot I was told to go into the next room, the huge theater-like space where services are held. We had to wait fifteen minutes, to see if we had any ill effects. Dizziness, nausea, death, you know, that sort of thing. If someone isn't dead after 15 minutes he's good to go, any anyone who died didn't have to come back for a second shot. We lived the requisite 15 minutes so were allowed to depart but if we died in the car nobody would know or care. On the way out we heard someone say that they expected to do 1500 people that day. Maybe so: there were several hundred there yesterday morning and more coming in as we left.
So after a solid year of COVID-iocy and constant yammer-yammer-yammer about it on the so-called "news" we are finally on the road to safety, if not wellness. That's assuming that the shot I received was in fact the vaccine and just not sterile water. The Talking Heads on the "news" keep hyperventilating about "vaccine shortages" and how the weather has delayed shipments, and how WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! any minute now because there's NOT ENOUGH VACCINE!!!
I have no way to know for sure but I take it as a matter of faith that I did get a vaccine, not sterile saline; I'm hoping that the Health Department isn't relying on placebo effect. On Saint Patrick's Day I will get my second shot, and two weeks after that...no more !$@!$#!$%$!! mask for me.
After being saved from COVID by the beneficence of the Commonwealth and President Biden we went to Tractor Supply and bought birdseed. It's good to be alive, if only barely. I am so glad that President Biden has kissed it and made it all better. I feel so much more confident that I will live to see Our Revered And Beloved Governor (All Praise Be Unto Him) leave office.
February 19, 2021: Ice
Photo Courtesy of G. Wayne Pike
Retired Federal Marshall, Western District, VA
Former Wythe County Sheriff
We have had the ice storm that was predicted. Ice storms seem to be a peculiar weather pattern of the American South: when it's not quite cold enough to snow, but cold enough that surfaces can freeze falling rain, you get a covering of ice on tree branches, fences, cars, any solid object.
An ice storm can be a beautiful sight. Everything becomes wrapped in a crystalline covering and glitters like diamonds.
But it can also be incredibly damaging. The weight of the ice can cause limbs to break off trees and hit power lines. Here in Blacksburg we old-timers remember the ordeal of The Great Ice Storm of 1994: we were a week without electric power and three days without water. For days you could hear crack!-crack!-crack! as tree limbs fell all over town. In the subsequent clean-up there were shoulder-high piles of brush along both sides of every street in town for weeks. The town ground up so much mulch that for a year anyone who wanted some free could just go get it. We had just brought home a brand new Volvo station wagon the day the storm started. That morning Mrs Outdoorsman said, "Maybe you'd better move the car." Twenty minutes late a huge half-trunk from a tree in our front yard crashed down into the driveway exactly where the car had been. A very narrow escape! No doubt other people have experienced worse conditions for longer, but for us effete Easterners, 1994 was bad enough.
This ice storm wasn't nearly so bad but when the ice started forming we knew—we knew—that sooner or later the power would go, and so it did. At 11:15 yesterday morning, I heard a 750-KV step down transformer explode down the street. That's a sound that's unmistakable. It sounds like—it is—a large bomb going off. Exploding transformers sometimes happen when a squirrel unwisely decides to store some nuts in the transformer case and becomes a Crispy Critter. When one goes, poof! we have no electricity.
I called Appalachian Power: in 1994 I'd spent several days trying to get through to them but it seems they've learned a lesson from the outrage that resulted from a week-long busy signal. Now you can actually talk to a human if you wait long enough. While you wait the hold message advises you to "...report outages via our web site..." which would be an interesting trick, since the computer you need to get to the web site runs on electricity, as does the wireless modem. Eventually I was able to speak to someone. I reported what I knew, told her where the transformer was probably located, and was told, "We have no estimate of when power will be restored," and "There are 97 customers in your area affected." This was not encouraging but at least the report was made. Later I heard from neighbors that there were live power lines in the street and at least one pole that had fallen down.
Our lives run on electricity: not only our computers, stoves and refrigerators, but our freezer full of food and even the heat in our house. Of course we had no idea how long this outage would last. We've had one since 1994 that cost us a freezer-load of meat; but after 1994 we'd made some preparations. I bought a little Coleman camp stove that runs on either gasoline or propane. We have been glad for it more than once. This time Mrs Outdoorsman had been in the middle of making soup for lunch when the power went, so out came the camp stove to allow her to finish it. We have extra blankets. Moreover we have several oil lamps so that we don't have to freeze to death in the dark. No, we can watch ourselves freeze to death by the light of a wick barely producing the level of illumination that a 25-watt bulb does. But at least we could see our toes becoming frostbitten and falling off.
Well, in the end it wasn't nearly as bad as it might have been. Power came back on at 9:15 PM, a little over 11 hours after the failure. By then we'd had dinner, delivered so that someone besides us could risk his life on the road. Talk about "essential workers": I now include Chinese restaurant delivery drivers in that category.
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through a [Blue Ridge] village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
March 2, 2021: A Reprieve?
Our Revered And Beloved Governor
Blackface Northam, He Whose Praises Are Sung Far And Wide Across The Commonwealth, He For Whom All Of Us Peons Give Thanks (because we know what's good for us) has graciously condescended to allow us to loosen some of our justly-deserved chains. We are now allowed to leave our homes after midnight and before 5:00 AM without being shot by his Gestapo; we can now have "gatherings" of up to 50 people; we can now have sporting events with 30% capacity but not more than 250 people; and we are now allowed to drink at bars until 12:00 midnight. Hallelujah, Praise Him (if you know what's good for you). Of course we still have to wear masks, even when we're sitting on the toilet; and we are strongly advised to wear TWO masks.
Saint Anthony Fauci, nearly as infallible as Governor
Blackface Northam, has told us that the incidence of flu is down because people are wearing masks; and that the cases of COVID-iocy are going up because people refuse to wear masks. You pays your money and takes your choice. Nobody, not even Saint Anthony, has a clue what's going on; but we are all grateful for Governor Blackface's Northam's stupendous generosity.
March 17, 2021: Getting Shot On Saint Patrick's Day
Mrs Outdoorsman and I had our second COVID-iocy shots today, and now we are fully immune, or so we are told. Not that that means a whole lot: according to St Anthony Fauci we still have to wear the !$#!$#!@#%^&!!! masks until and unless our Beloved And Revered Governor
Blackface Northam, He Who Looks Like Mr Rogers And Dictates Like Benito Mussolini, says we don't have to. Who would doubt His infinite wisdom? After all, if I don't have the disease, can't get it, and can't infect anyone else, it's obvious that I should wear a !$#!$#!@#%^&!!! mask, "just in case," right? How could I be so stupid, so uncaring, so wanting in Community Spirit, so selfish, indeed, so treasonous, as to refuse to wear a !$#!$#!@#%^&!!! mask for the silly reason that it makes no difference whether I do or not? I just don't know how I'll be able to live with myself. But I'll try.
This time the shots were given at the local high school. I haven't been inside a high school in 50-odd years, but I can tell you that Blacksburg High (home of the "Blacksburg Bruins," who used to be called the "Blacksburg Indians" until the PC Nazis whopped them upside the head with the Shaming Stick) is a lot more posh than the then-brand-new Bronx High School of Science was in 1961-65. It is still recognizably a school, however. But how long, do you suppose, will it take for someone to recognize that the image of the "Bruin" is of a grizzly bear, and point out that we don't have grizzly bears in Virginia? How long will it take for PETA to object to "Bruins" as a team name because it's "species-ist" and demeaning to bears, presenting them as violent when they're really just sweet, cuddly Furry Friends? Where's Tim Treadwell when we need him to look after the interests and concerns of bears?
One thing I wasn't prepared for when I moved to small-town America from Da Bronx was the fact that the parking lots are for students, not faculty. At the Bronx High School of Science they had a parking lot the size of a tennis court for the three or four faculty members who drove to work. Students came in by bus, and not a school bus either. I rode the #10 New York City Transit bus; all 3800 or so BHSS students rode a bus except for the ones that rode the subway. The idea of a parking lot for students was completely foreign to me.
The Home of the Bruins is simply colossal, and sits on God alone knows how many acres of land. Most of that land is taken up by the parking lots. Seriously, the parking available would serve the needs of a regional shopping mall or a popular beach resort. The school itself, what I saw of it, is painted in muted tones of grey and maroon. I didn't get into any classrooms, but we did go into the gymnasium to get our shots. On the walls of the gym were advertisements for local businesses. Another shock. It's a public school for God's sake, why do they need to sell advertising? (And they do sell it: there were several blank spots with posters asking people to "Support The Bruins, Advertise here!") I'll tell you why: because no matter how much money the town and county provide through our extortionate real estate tax rates, it's not enough to "support" the school teams. After all, the purpose of any institution of higher learning is to provide a cheering section for the football and basketball teams, nicht wahr? To send your teams on away games in old busses, and in last year's uniforms would be, well, a disgrace, shaming the good name of the town. I really should be grateful to fork over several thousand dollars in taxes a year, knowing it will go to A Good Cause. Again, I am selfish and irresponsible for raising any objections.
When we arrived there was a line out the door and all the way down the parking lot, several hundreds of yards long, composed of people religiously keeping their "social distancing" and wearing their !$#!$#!@#%^&!!! masks. There were plenty of police there, too, to make sure they did. Take your mask off, and you'd get a warning. Keep it off and you'd get handcuffed and hauled off to The Hokie Pokey, as an Enemy Of The People. This is the Ho Chi Minh principle: keep everyone in line by keeping them in fear of retribution.
I was checked in by a woman who works at the vet school where I was employed until the end of 2014, but she is in a different department and didn't know anyone I do. Since she was "only a veterinarian" she hadn't been "trained" to give the shots. (Why not? How different is it from giving a shot to a dog? It should be easier , since I'm not covered in hair.) So her table-mate did the actual shot, thereby freeing me from the worry of catching a "deadly" disease whose death rate is well below that of the flu. Now I can enter Heaven safe in the knowledge I won't give St Peter COVID-iocy.
It took a lot less time than I had feared it would when I saw the line. Thirty-five minutes. When we came out the line was twice as long as when we started. It seems that our Beloved And Revered Governor
Blackface (Praise Be Unto Him) has graciously decided that everyone can get shot, not just us Geezers. Most of the people in line were well under 65. We got called into the building early because we were there for our second shot. The second-shotters were uniformly Geezers, who'd received their first shots under the old, bad, Age-ist rules.
I keep hearing bullshit on what purports to be the "news," with The Talking Heads assuring us that "...the end of the Pandemic is near..." but nevertheless, we'd better keep wearing the !$#!$#!@#%^&!!! masks, OR ELSE. This is so comforting, to know that the end is merely a matter of perhaps two years away. (Maybe four, if President Biden lives that long and isn't shoved out the door under the 25th Amendment but who's counting?)
We had been told that the second Moderna shot would hit harder than the first, and it did. I started feeling woozy within half an hour of getting the shot, and last night was really bad. Overall ache, a headache, and very poor sleep. I have only once before had a bad reaction to an immunization: in USAF Basic Training 50 years ago I had a flu shot that laid me on my back with a fever of 105°. Everything I touched seemed to be freezing. I'm sure I was running a fever last night, as I had the same experience of being cold when I knew I couldn't be cold; though it was nowhere near so bad as in 1970. Twenty-four hours later I'm still easily fatigued, and I sincerely hope this stops by tomorrow.
Post-Adendum Addendum, Friday March 19, 2021:
It stopped. I am not yet dead.
March 20, 2021: A Semi-Satisfactory Range Day
I went to the range today to do some things: first was to chronograph some reloads I made in .38 S&W (not .38 Special); second was to shoot my little Steven Favorite in .32 Rimfire; third to function-check my FN .25 pistol in which I'd installed a new recoil spring to replace the 109-year-old original.
The reloads first. I had several varieties and some factory ammunition. Everything was fired in my S&W "Lemon Squeezer" a/k/a "New Departure" revolver, vintage 1903. The factory stuff was, well, anemic. An average of 532 FPS with a 145 grain bullet that has all of 91 F-P of energy! Believe it or not, the standard British service load in this caliber was worse: 372 FPS and 113 F-P. Granted this was from a 3" barrel, but even when we fired it out of a 5" military-issue Webley Mark IV it barely hit 442 FPS and 72 F-P. That isn't going to stop many attackers. The best reload I'd made was with "Trail Boss" powder under a 165 grain bullet: 509 FPS and 96 F-P. Though the factory stuff was nominally faster with a negligible difference in energy, if I had to use this gun in self defense I would want heavy bullets.
The Stevens Favorite is one of my favorites (ha, ha) but it startled me a bit: using factory .32 Rimfire ammunition (some Navy Arms stuff that was made 20+ years ago) it MISFIRED three times, despite repeated hits. My home-rolled stuff, using the H&R kit and acorn blank "primers" fired perfectly. The "reloads" use black powder so I had to clean it as soon as I got home.
I have no idea what happened. I haven't used this rifle in a long time. The Navy Arms product worked perfectly last time I fired it, and it's been properly stored. I just sold two boxes of that stuff for $100 EACH, so I'm a little rattled and hope I don't have to give the buyer a refund. Maybe it was just something about it my rifle (which dates from around 1910-15 or so) didn't like. My home-made stuff chronographed at 852 FPS; with an 85 grain bullet, that's 138 FP, more than enough energy for the toughest squirrel.
I've written about my little FN .25 before, a Browning M1906 "Vest Pocket." It was made around 1912 and brought to the USA by my late godfather's father sometime before World War One. At 109 years of age it's seen some use. It had been misfiring a bit so I replaced the firing pin spring last year, which cured that issue. I recently changed out the recoil spring as well, the original being somewhat deformed. The "Vest Pocket" is identical to the Colt Model 1908 .25 (which was actually a licensed copy) so since Numrich didn't have the "official" recoil spring for the FN version in stock I used the one they sell for the Colt. It worked perfectly. My little pea-shooter is on track for its second century of service at this point. I actually carried this popgun for years when I lived in New York, because it was the only pistol I owned that was small enough to hide easily!
March 22, 2021: Yesterday Was Not "My Day" Nor Is Today Much Better
We have a cuckoo clock, a lovely "Black Forest" item that I acquired many years ago. It had been brought here from Germany by a man who'd immigrated in the late 1930's and was in my father's country house. When the house was sold I claimed it. For years it hung on our dining room wall, silent as Cortez upon a peak in Darien, though without the wild surmise.
Some weeks ago I decided that enough was enough and I sent it off to a man in Roanoke who fixes things like cuckoo clocks. He returned it working perfectly and COOK-COOK-COOK ing as per advertisement. Yesterday or the day before I must have over wound it. It stopped working. I examined it and discovered that the chain that winds the clock mechanism has slipped off its cog and couldn't, with my limited knowledge and skills set, be restored. $200 down the drain: Mrs Outdoorsman has decreed that the clock shall never COOK again, though it's back on the wall, looking sullen in a very Teutonic manner.
Then my 25+ year old Toro lawn mower stopped working. This mower had always been very reliable. I've commented more than once to Mrs Outdoorsman that it would always start on the first or second pull of the rope, something not a common performance feature of 2-cycle engines. For decades it has given us sterling service. Yesterday, for whatever reason, it decided that enough was enough. Despite fresh gas, a new spark plug, and ether spray in the carburetor, it flat-out refused to start.
A couple of years ago I'd bought an electric chain saw, a battery-powered Kobalt 18" one that is as good as any gas-powered one I ever owned. Better, actually: because unlike nearly all gas-powered chain saws (all of which have 2-cycle engines) it starts every time I press the button. So now I've had it with 2-cycle engines. I went to the Lowe's site and ordered a Kobalt 21" electric mower that uses the same battery that my saw does. If it's half as good as the saw I'll be satisfied. It wasn't cheap. But less expensive than the co-pay on a heart attack would be.
I've had better and less expensive days than yesterday, but today isn't much better. At 7:30 this morning I took my 11-year-old Border Collie, Lucy, to the vet to get her teeth cleaned. I knew they did this under sedation but wasn't aware it was a full anesthesia: she will be there all day, until she recovers. I'm not happy about that, there is always risk with general anesthesia, even for a "minor" procedure.
Lucy trusts me, but God knows why. Every time I put her harness on she shakes with fear because she knows she's going somewhere she doesn't like, where people she doesn't know will do things she doesn't want done, and understands only that I was the one who brought her there. There's no way to explain to a dog that what's happening is for her own good. When I have medical procedures I know what's going on but the poor thing doesn't. Worse, she's been deprived of food and water since yesterday evening. By the time she gets released (supposedly about 4:00 to 4:30 today) she's going to be starving and dehydrated.
Addendum: 4:03 PM
Lucy is back home from the vet. Her teeth are clean, but she's missing four of the ones she went in with. They had to be extracted due to damage; one actually was showing some bone resorption. She is the first dog we've ever had who had a teeth-cleaning, but boy, when we have dog teeth cleaned we do it right. Right to the tune of $1 Kilobuck+. I told Mrs Outdoorsman she shouldn't be outraged. Perhaps she might check with our own dentist to find out what he'd charge to pull four teeth. Lucy is to be on soft foods only for two weeks, no kibble, no chew sticks, no bones, nothing, not even soft toys that she might want to shred.
She's pretty grouchy and I don't blame her. She normally doesn't have the sunniest personality—she likes to be petted but only on her own terms, and growls if you try to pet her when she hasn't demanded it—but I'm going to leave her be for a while.
I'm just glad it's over, and I'm sure she is too, though she has no idea what has happened. All she knows is that her mouth hurts and she's hungry.
What a hell of a world. Tomorrow it's my turn to go to the dentist. Hooray.
March 23, 2021: Some Minor Improvements
Things are a little better today. Lucy is feeling much better, and while she's pining for the FRISBEE, the thing she lives for, she can't have it until two weeks after her dental surgery and clearance from her vet. In the interim she's on soft food, which means canned stuff. She's farting her brains out as a result. Used to be when she'd fart it was the silent-but-deadly variety that would come creeping up over the edge of the bed in a greenish miasma. Now, however, it's PFFFT!! and PFWEET!! no less deadly but clearly audible. Oh well.
My Toro mower must have been shaken by my announcement that it was headed for the Toro Organ Donor Program, because today the damned thing started up right quick. I've given it a reprieve. I cancelled the order for that lovely electric Kobalt mower, but by golly, if the Toro acts up again, woof, out it goes for the trash pickup next month.
The latest massacre in Colorado has President Biden talking about...what else?...waiting periods. Yes, that old idea of the Left has come back again. And the usual bullshit about "banning weapons of war" is being pushed again without any admission that when we had a "ban" it made no difference whatever. Honest to God, sometimes I wonder if the Left actually goes out to find some wingnut to do these things. Push his buttons and boom, off we go again on the "gun control" hobby horse. Of course the debate isn't about controlling guns. It's about controlling people, especially people who might not like what the government plans to do to them and who have the means to fight back. That's the whole point of the Second Amendment.
That nothing President Biden has proposed could or would have prevented this last incident is irrelevant. They are happy to see people killed en masse if it forwards their ultimate goal: a complete ban on private ownership of all firearms. That's what they want and they won't ever give up until they get it.
According to what passes for "news" on the Boob Tube, our Beloved And Revered Governor
Blackface Northam is "loosening" restrictions on us peasants. We will now be allowed to do things He (All Praise Be Unto Him) had previously forbidden in His Infinite Wisdom, like attend weddings (provided they aren't too big) and go to sports events (provided they aren't too big) and perhaps even to walk in public (if we get down on our hands and knees in gratitude). Of course, we are grateful that He (All Praise Be Unto Him) is still requiring us to wear masks. Thank GOD for Governor Blackface Shithead Northam (All Praise Be Unto Him), whatever would we miserable peasants and Deplorables do without His Beneficent Guidance? We are SO lucky, and don't think we don't know it.
March 28, 2021, 5:00 AM: Dogs and Thunderstorms Don't Mix
At 3:30 this morning we had a thunderstorm hit. Flashes of lightning, BOOM! of thunder, and a terrified 54-pound Border Collie scrabbling onto the bed, climbing all over us in an attempt to escape the horror. She stepped on my right eye in the process, and I may have a shiner in a few hours. Not many people out there can claim to have been given a black eye by a sheepdog.
At the moment she's decided she's safe in the storage room in our basement. The storm has passed, the dog has calmed down, and I'm going back to bed.
April 1, 2021: Our Revered and Beloved Governor
Blackface Northam Resigns; President Biden Impeached For Senility, Enters Assisted Living Facility
Ha, Ha! APRIL FOOL! (But hey, a man can dream, can't he?)
April 2, 2021: Gunsmithing Woes
Last January I sent off my Stevens 311 shotgun for repair. (See the entry for January 22 for details.) I took it to Sportsman's Warehouse who offer gunsmithing services. They charged me a $45 "diagnostic fee" and $20 to ship it to their repair facility in Utah. Today they sent me a #!$#!%$##$!!!! text asking me to call the gunsmith shop. I was told it needs a "deep clean" and a "deburring" of the internal parts. Total is $150, over and above the $45 "diagnostic fee" I've already paid, plus the $20 shipping. I don't think I spent $215 on the gun when I bought it brand new in 1981! I also have to wonder why a gun I've owned and used for 40 years needs "deburring" of internal parts, but I don't really have a whole lot of options. Deburring and cleaning, and we'll see what happens next. If it continues to give me problems I'm going to demand a refund.
I hate texts. I loathe, abominate, and vilify texting: every text that is sent to anyone by anyone is another nail in the coffin of Civilization. When I dropped the gun off I'd told them NOT to text me when it's ready to ship home. So since the gunsmith shop had sent me a text, when I called and spoke to the gunsmith shop I again forcefully reiterated the request that when they have done the work and need a credit card number to pay for it that they call me, NOT send me a text.
I guarantee that they'll send me another #!$#!%$##$!!!! text.
It seems to be incomprehensible to most people that when I say, "Please do NOT send me a text," I mean exactly that. They always send one anyway.
April 6, 2021: Lucy's Dental Checkup
I had Lucy in for her post-op checkup, and all is well. Everything is healed. She can now go back on regular food, and most importantly for her (and me) she can again play Frisbee. She's really been suffering for the lack of it in the past two weeks, and keeps begging me for it.
On return I took her for a walk around our block. This might not sound like much, but Mrs Outdoorsman isn't "into" walking the dog; the last time Lucy got a trot around the block was well over two years ago, perhaps more. I have no idea why my wife objects. Lucy had a good time, sniffing all kinds of spots she hasn't sniffed before and seeing new sights. It was a beautiful day to walk a dog. I had to more or less hurry her along, unfortunately. But it's done, she's home with a clean bill of health (and clean teeth) and the daily walk Mrs Outdoorsman insists on taking is out of the way. Can't ask for more than that.
April 8, 2021: The Man, The Myth, The Legend: And I Don't Mean Ernest Hemingway
The Propaganda Broadcasting System (your tax dollars at work) has a long-standing love affair with Ken Burns and his "documentaries" on various subjects. Last night we finally finished watching the seemingly interminable one on Ernest Hemingway, purportedly The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived, anywhere, and don't you ever forget it.
I have tried to read Hemingway's stuff and always got a few pages into it and stopped. I can't really comment on his ability as a writer, nor would I dream of contradicting the miscellaneous literary "experts" whose hosannas of praise for Hemingway, The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived (move over, William Shakespeare) punctuate the film. I will say that if even half of what Burns says about The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived is true, he was an alcoholic, sadistic, narcissistic mentally ill monster and the world is—pardon the pun—"A Cleaner Better-Lighted Place" without him in it. His prose may or may not be deathless but on the whole I think we can live with The Legend quite adequately, we don't need The Man himself.
My beef is with the "documentary" itself. I sat squirming through all six hours of the usual "Ken Burns Effect": zooming in on photographs and shifting the camera's point of view on them; with the smug commentary by the narrator Peter Coyote (yes, that's his real name); with the readings from the works of The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived; with repetitive images of his miscellaneous homes (all of them outside the USA so he didn't have to pay income tax, but that's never mentioned); with pictures designed to invoke melancholy and nostalgia for poor, poor Ernest Hemingway, The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived; with the long list of women he married, etc., etc. All of it is done in Burns' plodding, leaden, mawkish, and utterly pompous style, one that makes me want to tear out what remains of my hair.
This "documentary" could have told the same story—repellent though it is—in two hours, at most three, but no, Burns has to drone on and on and on, repeating the same stuff over and over. Get to the point, Goddamn It! Then there are of course the usual Politically Correct nuances: that Hemingway, despite his machismo and having fathered four children, was really a closet homosexual and a cross-dresser; that he was really not the braggart and liar he seems to have been, and even if he were we have to forgive him because he was "flawed" thanks to his mother, and he was The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived. And don't you ever forget it!
I can't understand why Burns is so highly regarded. His work is so uniformly boring and slanted, so completely devoted to telling a "story" without letting truth get in the way, and so utterly nose-in-the-air pretentious that it makes my plebeian nose twitch. I've sat through several of his so-called "documentaries." One or two were reasonably entertaining, more because of the subject than anything Burns did or said about them. "Prohibition" was one. But most of them are shallow, superficial, lacking in any sort of real insight. "The Civil War" was so bad I could hardly sit still thanks to the factual errors in it. Most of his work is profoundly Politically Correct: "Country Music" attributed all of the genre to black musicians (roll over, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton) and—believe it or not—he included Bob Dylan in the pantheon of "country music" artists...but I digress.
The point is that in my not-so-humble opinion Burns has pulled the wool over the eyes of the Propaganda Broadcasting System (your tax dollars at work). He's a charlatan. Moreover he's a charlatan completely supported by tax money in the form of deductible donations to the Propaganda Broadcasting System (your tax dollars at work), and to his "charitable foundation" that pays him handsomely for the tripe he produces. I understand that this sort of "documentary" is actually sold by Burns' production company to various presenters, but wonder if any of that money ever goes back into the hands of the taxpayers. I doubt it. The Propaganda Broadcasting System (your tax dollars at work) always includes a "thank you" to "Viewers Like You." Not viewers like me, honey: the government may steal money from me at gunpoint but I wouldn't voluntarily give you a dime.
One other thing that struck me about the "story" is that the only people crazier and more prone to masochistic self-abuse than Hemingway were the women who married him.
April 18, 2021: Weird Calibers
I like to shoot guns in oddball calibers. There is a good deal of satisfaction to be found in making an old gun in a caliber 99.9% of shooters have never heard of go BANG, and without being immodest I have to say I'm pretty good at doing this.
Plus, I shoot a drilling. Anyone who's "into" drillings has to be able to cope with weird calibers because—unless you're a multi-millionaire, which alas, I am not—drillings in common calibers are financially unreachable. Most drillings in the USA are war souvenirs brought home by returning soldiers in 1945. They tend to be in calibers like 8x57JR, 9.3x72R, or even odder and more obscure ones.
A friend has a beautiful 1920's-vintage drilling in one of the most obscure calibers ever made: 8x57R/360. Despite the similarity of name to the more common 8x57 Mauser, this cartridge is dimensionally different (except for case length), uses the 0.318" bullet so beloved of pre-WW Two German gunsmiths, and is made nowhere. Some years ago Huntingdon Die Specialties in California produced a batch of brass for it. My friend had some of that plus some loaded rounds he got with the gun. He asked if I could load the empties he had. Along with the ammunition he had some very high-quality bullets in the proper 0.318" diameter.
Here's the gun: it's a wonderful example of pre-war German craftsmanship, by Carl Anton Stiegele.
Stiegele was a "bespoke" gunmaker for several notable personages, including Kaiser Wilhelm II, the King of Bavaria, several German princes and other European royal houses, and—during the period in which this gun was made—the Emperor of Japan. The ornate company logo attests to the various distinguished customers and the awards won by Stiegele's products. The firm, founded in 1837, still exists, and still produces fine guns.
As it happens, I reload for the 8x57JR, which is an entirely different round. The 8x57R/360 is ballistically similar to a .30-30, but the 8x57JR (a rimmed version of the far more common 8x57 Mauser) is akin to a .308 Winchester. Nor will a gun chambered for the one accept ammunition for the other. If you fired an 8x57JR in a gun chambered for the 8x57R/360 you would destroy the gun and perhaps yourself. But the similarity of case length and bullet diameter offered a way to do what my friend needed done, without the necessity of ordering specially made custom reloading dies at vast expense.
An old trick of reloaders to extend case life is not to resize a case full length. If there is only one firearm in a given caliber, all that's needed is to size the neck of the case so it will properly retain the bullet. A fired case takes on the dimensions of the chamber in which it's been fired, so that full-length resizing is only needed if the ammunition is to be shot in a different chamber. To achieve a neck-size-only condition, you can back off the resizing die a bit, so that it doesn't make contact with the case proper, it just squeezes the neck.
This is what I did with the 8x57R/360 brass. I backed off my sizing die for the 8x57JR sufficiently to allow the case neck to enter the top of the die, which left the fired dimensions of the rest of the case alone. The sized cases were then charged. The seating die was also backed off a bit; it was positioned so that the bullet was pressed into the squeezed-down case mouth where it was securely held. Then I used the crimping die for the 8x57JR (which touches only the neck anyway) to make sure the bullet was adequately secure.
My friend had been having misfiring problems. There are several reasons this might happen, one of them being a weak firing pin strike. To test this theory I used pistol primers rather than rifle primers. Pistol primers are somewhat softer than ones for a rifle, so if there is a weak firing pin blow they should go off reliably. I will test this out at the range as soon as I get my hands on the gun.
The next item on today's agenda was to load some .32 Rimfire. Yes, rimfire. I have a rifle in this caliber: a Stevens "Favorite," (see the entry for March 20) along with a bunch of re-usable brass cases and the special heeled bullets for them. This was something I'd done before, I just had a few fired cases I need to re-fill. This time I used Hodgdon's FFFg granulation of 777 powder. "Triple-Seven" is a bit more energetic than straight black powder, so I expect a healthy POP! when the gun goes off. I have long lamented the unavailability of commercial .32 Rimfire but the re-loadable stuff makes the gun a viable proposition. Heeled bullets for these old rimfires require external lubrication, for which I use "SPG" lube, a product specially made for use with black powder.
Modern .22 Long Rifle ammunition is one of the few remaining calibers using external lubrication—for that matter it's one of the few remaining rimfire calibers—but the factories use a hard wax that dries and isn't messy to handle. External lubrication is a bit icky with SPG: I swipe a little of it on the bullet and then work it into the grease groove with my fingers. But it works, keeping the black powder/777 fouling to a minimum.