Speaking of Ammo companies…

On the other side of the aisle from the principled stand being taken by Hornady, You have Vista Outdoor.

Vista Outdoor Inc. has been pressured for months by retailers that sell its other goods like Bell bicycle helmets and CamelBak water carriers, to stop manufacturing firearms.

The Utah company said Tuesday that it will be seeking buyers for its firearms manufacturing business, and will focus on products for outdoor enthusiasts. It will continue to sell ammunition, its biggest core businesses.

Really? You seriously think after throwing us under the bus that we’re going to continue buying your ammo?

If you own stock in Vista Outdoor, I’d recommend you sell. Immediately. Oops…too late.

Vista (VSTO)’s stock price fell 15% after the company released a separate statement online, where Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz said Vista “plans to explore strategic options” for Savage and Stevens firearms, as well as some non-gun brands, like Bell helmets.

Like Hornady XTP for self-defense ammo, CCI blazer has been my go to range ammo for quite some time…I especially like their .22lr offering. That’s OK…I imagine the other ammo manufacturers (like, say, Hornady) will appreciate a bit more business. I’m also partial to Alliant powders for reloading and CCI primers. I’ll use up what I have on hand, but there are plenty of alternatives out there. Probably the biggest sacrifice will be giving up Hoppe’s No 9. That’s been my go-to bore cleaner my whole life. Ah well…who knows, maybe there’s something out there I’ll find I like better that I’ve been missing out on all this time.

In case you are interested in a quick reference of brands I’m going to avoid, here are the brands that Vista owns:

Bushnell Optics
Weaver Optics
Simmons Optics
Millett Optics
Tasco Optics
Night Optics
Redfield scope mounts/bases
Primos Hunting supplies
Final Approach (FA) hunting supplies
Gold Tip Bows
Bee Stinger Bows
Blackhawk holsters and accessories
RCBS Reloading
Champion Targets and accessories
Butler Creek magazines and accessories
Uncle Mike’s holsters and accessories
Gunmate Holsters and accessories
Eagle Tactical accessories
Blazer Ammunition
Estate Cartridge Ammunition
Federal Premium Ammunition (includes American Eagle and Fusion)
CCI Ammunition and components
Speer Ammunition and components
Independence Ammunition
Force On Force Training Ammunition
Alliant Powder
Savage Arms (includes Fox) (for now)
Stevens Arms (for now)
Hoppe’s gun cleaning/lubricant
Gunslick gun cleaning/lubricant
Outers gun cleaning/lubricant
M-Pro7 gun cleaning/lubricant
Jimmy Styks Surfboards
Camp Chef outdoor cooking accessories
Camelbak hydration systems
Blackburn cycling accessories
Bolle Eyewear
Serengeti Eyewear
Cebe Eyewear and Helmets
Bolle Safety Goggles and Eyewear
Giro cycling/skiing helmets/goggles
Bell Helmets
Copilot bike child carriers
Raskullz child bike helmets and accessories
Krash child bike helmets and accessories

That’s the list. It’s quite extensive and giving up some of those products is going to hurt, but there’s plenty of competition out there and I have no doubt I’ll be able to find suitable alternatives.

By the way, this list came directly from the Vista Outdoor website.

I may come back and put them in alphabetical order, right now they’re grouped by product type which may make it more difficult to sift through. If there’s an edit to this post later on, that’s probably what changed.

Hornady gets it.

In response to the New York Comproller’s not so veiled “nice bank you’ve got there, it’d be a shame if anything happened to it” strong arm tactics to convince banks to discontinue servicing the gun industry, Hornady has opted to cease any ammunition sales to the New York government.

While it may not make a difference to New York, Hornady will not knowingly allow our ammunition to be sold to the Government of the State of NY or any NY agencies. Their actions are a blatant and disgusting abuse of office and we won’t be associated with a government that acts like that.

Hornady’s XTP Jacketed Hollowpoints have long been my go to round for self defense and I even buy the bullets for when I roll my own. They have several offerings that get very good reviews and I’m very happy with the performance of the XTP.

Since I’m a long time customer, I can’t exactly switch my business to them, they already have it, but what I can do is: 1) Recommend them to others, which I will…adamantly…hence this post and 2) Stock up. Looks like it’s time to invest in precious metals like lead and copper. You can never have too many bullets on hand, and as an added bonus, when properly stored, they never go bad.

Now if that evil NRA that controls the entire gun industry in the US (trust me, I know it’s true, I read it in the New York Times) could get all ammo, gun and accessory manufacturers to follow suit, we could put these petty attempted power grabs by even more petty politicians behind us.

Dear Delta

I have been a faithful patron of Delta for many years, am a Silver Medallion member, and have always felt welcomed and appreciated; however after recent events I no longer feel that way.

Following the tragedy in Florida, a vocal minority pointed fingers at the NRA, blaming an organization of over 5 million people for the act of one unbalanced individual. The fact is that the NRA has consistently advocated for current laws to be enforced vigorously in order to prevent tragedies like what occurred in Florida from happening. The NRA’s urgings have obviously fallen on deaf ears as the enforcement failures at multiple levels of government increasingly come to light.

In spite of that this vocal minority has managed to convince Delta to rescind an offer for discounted fares to the annual meeting.

Delta knew the NRA’s positions and politics before extending the offer of discounts, the NRA has never kept it’s positions secret. Nothing has changed in the NRA’s positions or policies since the tragedy, yet Delta found it advisable to rescind the offer of discounted fares.

The only conclusion I can draw is that Delta agrees with the vocal minority and places the blame for this tragedy on NRA members, of which I am one.

Therefore, short a convincing explanation, sincere apology and reversal of this decision, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to patronize a business that views me in such a negative light.

This action is not without sacrifice on my part. In my line of work, I tend to travel quite a bit. Perhaps not as much as some, but much more than the average person. I have several long trips in the offing, including at least one trip to Germany and three trips to Honolulu this year (during one of which I plan to take my wife). It is a shame that I will have to fly on an airline that provides (in my view) inferior service and will have to eschew the loyalty miles I’ve built up to this point, but my conscience will not allow me to patronize a business that would impugn me and my associates in such a way.

[update]
I just bought the tickets for my first trip to Hawaii for the year. Cost over $1000. Guess which airline didn’t get that money?

And I used to like Jim Carrey

I guess I should look at the bright side. A dollar not spent on a movie theater is a dollar I can spend on guns and ammo.

Here’s the video he talks about. Even couldn’t resist getting in the old standby of those who lack facts or evidence to support their position: the dick joke.

Quick tip to Jim Carrey: In the words of Jennifer: “shut your pie hole and dance, monkey!”

Dear Autozone

Well, I used to be a faithful Autozone customer. No longer.

Why? Because you fired an employee for the egregious crime of saving your store from a robbery and possibly saving himself and the others in the store from death or serious bodily injury:

Autozone Employee Fired after taking action against fake beard bandit

I don’t recall ever seeing armed security…or even unarmed security…at the stores that I have frequented many times over the years.

So, basically, your policy is to trust the safety and very lives of your employees and customers to the good will and impulses of a violent criminal who has already, by the act of committing armed robbery, demonstrated a disregard for the mores of a civil society.

Now that I know that if a dangerous criminal enters a store while I’m there, your store employees are prohibited, by company policy, from using the most effective tool available to defend me and my family against violent attackers, I no longer feel safe in your stores.

Your negligent disregard for the safety and well being of your employees and customers is disgusting and frightening.

I’ll also be advising my children, friends, co-workers and the hundreds of people who read my blog to avoid your unsafe stores as well.

Fortunately, there are both Advance and NAPA stores right up the street from yours. I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding the parts I need from your competitors.

If you ever reverse this negligent and dangerous corporate policy, please feel free to let me know and I’ll take that decision into consideration in my future purchasing decisions.

Comment posted here.

I’ll let you know if they favor me with a response.

NOTE: Their comment system doesn’t allow urls…you get a javascript error. To submit a url you have to remove the “http://” from the beginning…then it will work.

Gondolier Italian food and Pizza

The second review I wanted to post was of a restaurant we ate at in Harrogate TN, just south of Cumberland Gap.

It’s a franchise chain called Gondolier that apparently has locations throughout TN, GA, and FL. I can’t speak to the other locations of the chain, but the one in Harrogate was exceptional.

I ordered the only steak they had on the menu and it was listed as a special. It was billed as a Filet Mignon but was not the typical round, bacon wrapped cut, but a large, 9 oz portion. I have to admit that I was a little leery of ordering a steak from a place that bills itself as Italian food and pizza but that’s what I was in the mood for so I took the chance. Boy was I glad I did.

The steak was as close to perfection as I’ve had in a LONG time, including the pricier restaurants I’ve patronized in my travels. It was seasoned perfectly, cooked perfectly and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Absolutely a stunning piece of meat.

I also got a baked potato that was excellent. Typically a baked potato from a restaurant has been sitting in a warmer for hours, the skin is dried out and inedible and the “meat” of the potato is cooked into mushy submission. This potato was also as close to perfect as it comes. Freshly baked, still moist even to the skin, and adequately cooked but still firm.

Everyone else was pleased with their meals as well, but the steak meal (which I don’t see on their corporate menu, by the way) was amazing.

I must also point out that I am a very good cook myself and am often disappointed in restaurant fare because I could have done a better job of the meal at home myself and less expensively. Not in this case. I think that steak was better than anything I’ve ever cooked myself and even the potato I couldn’t have done better at home.

To top it off, The Wife ordered a “slice” of Coconut cake for dessert. It was huge. I can’t imagine the size of the cake that this slice was taken from but it must have been monstrous. The piece of cake made it all around the table (6 of us…5 that will actually eat coconut) and there was still some left that the group just couldn’t finish off.

As far as the other important things about restaurants, It’s not a “fancy” restaurant but the location we were at was fairly new and/or very well kept. The prices were very reasonable…I believe I paid about $18 for my Filet Mignon dinner. The place was very clean, we were seated immediately, the service was prompt, professional and personable and the atmosphere was perfect for a family restaurant…not too dark, but the lighting wasn’t harsh, and quiet enough that we could easily carry on a conversation at our table.

Overall, just an outstanding family dining experience. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the Cumberland Gap area.

Cumberland Gap Inn

I’ve got some more to write about the recent family motorcycle trip, but one of the first things I want to do is a couple of reviews.

My family (on Dad’s side) is originally from Claiborne County Tennessee, just south of Cumberland Gap. My uncle wanted to do some genealogy research on our trip so we spent the whole week in the Cumberland Gap area.

As usual, click all pix to make bigger

During our stay in the area we occupied the Cumberland Gap Inn right in bustling downtown Cumberland Gap.

They don’t have a web site up yet so I can’t link, but they are under new management. We had the privilege of meeting the new owners (as you would too if you stay there, they actually run the place…no absent management here) and they were very kind, personable and just good people all around.

They’ve been working very hard to update and improve the rooms and I have to say we were very impressed. The hotel is well maintained and very clean, the rooms are large, the beds are comfortable, and they even have a quiet little “back porch” to sit at of an evening and relax.

Perhaps not as fancy and upscale as a hotel in downtown Seattle or Portland, but they made us feel very welcome and “at home” and the accommodations were, in my book, first rate.

If you’re ever in the area on vacation or just passing through, I highly recommend a stay at the Cumberland Gap Inn.

By the way…you see that outcropping of rock sticking out from the mountaintop just to the left of the top of the flagpole? That’s called the Pinnacle.

This is what the Cumberland Gap Inn looks like from way up there.

And zoomed in with a 200mm lens.

That red vehicle there in front is The Wife’s car.

Do Not Fly US Airways

I know it’s been awhile. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and just haven’t had the time or motivation to blog.

Speaking of travel, I had our office manager book my travel for the trip I just got back from. I was in Denver from the 16th to the 26th of May, but when that trip came up I was already in Toronto. I thought it would be easier to ask the office manager to book my travel than to try to do it through a crappy internet connection from a hotel in Canada.

She books travel through Orbitz which is convenient for her, but chooses the cheapest fares it can find. I do try to keep my fares as low as possible, but there is a reason that some airlines are cheaper than others.

My flight out was with Delta, my normal choice in airlines because in my experience they don’t suck QUITE as bad as the rest, but my flight home was with US Airways.

What a fiasco.

Granted, it was a holiday weekend, but according to the experts it was not supposed to be very busy for the airlines relative to Memorial Day weekends of the past. It really didn’t seem any busier at the airports than usual to me overall (and, as I said, I’ve been traveling a lot lately).

I always check in online to make things quicker when I get to the airport. With Delta, checking in online makes things relatively painless. I did have a bag to check, but with Delta, that just means stand in the very rapidly moving “online check in” line, hand the person at the counter my pre-printed boarding pass to be scanned and give them my bag to be tagged. A very smooth process that usually takes 10 minutes or so max, even if there is a line.

OK…so when I checked in using US Airways online check in process, it seemed pretty much the same as Delta. The web site said to be there a minimum of 45 minutes prior to departure (Delta usually says 30) with bags to check. I figured a half hour cushion should be plenty. My flight was supposed to depart at 6:45, I got to the airport at about 5:00 and by the time I got my rental car turned in, rode the shuttle to the terminal (I was the only rider on a shuttle that holds about 30 people…that’s how busy a day it was) and got to the US Airways check in counter area, it was about 5:30, just as I planned.

The thing that struck me was that the US Airways counters are right down from the Delta counters. There was no one waiting at the Delta area. No one. I can’t imagine that Delta had no flights going out of Denver on the Saturday morning before Memorial Day. I believe that this is just further evidence of their superior process and efficiency.

Anyway, as I approached the US Airways area, I noted (it was hard to miss) a whole gaggle of people standing in line in front of the 5 or 6 agents they had working. They were lined up all the way across the lobby and the lines ended underneath the flight status displays on the wall opposite the ticket counters.

Hmmm. This doesn’t look good.

I found the line that seemed to be designated for Web Check Ins and began my wait.

By about 6:00, I’d gotten far enough up the line and close enough to notice that the agents were calling out names rather than just taking people in the order they were in the line. Not only that, but when the agents in the web check in line called a name, about half of the time, the person who struggled through the mass of humanity dragging their luggage up to that area, were from the full service line. The sign that said “web check in” apparently meant nothing.

A few minutes later I realized, to my chagrin, that if you didn’t check in at the kiosk (that I still hadn’t quite reached yet), they would never call your name. Checking in on the web is apparently just a placebo for US Airways victims…er…passengers. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that I needed to do this and was actually able to reach the kiosk, it was already about 6:05…40 minutes from my departure time.

Remember that note on the web site about being there 45 minutes before departure? Apparently it was not a suggestion. If you don’t hit a kiosk and check in (for the second time, if you’ve already done so online) before that 45 minute cutoff, they will not allow you to check in to the flight. The kiosk gives a message saying “sorry, but you’re SOL” or something to that effect.

Needless to say, as those of us who were trying to catch our 6:45 flight started realizing that we were not going to be able to do so, we got a bit irritated by the lack of organization. Several of us voiced our concerns to a few of the ticket agents, who basically told us “sorry, you’re SOL” or something to that effect. Oh…and that it was our fault that we didn’t know that we were supposed to check in at the kiosk until it was too late…stupid passengers.

Because we couldn’t check in to the kiosk, they never got our names at the desk, so they just kept merrily calling other people’s names and pretending like we didn’t exist.

Until three or four of us just basically camped out in front of one of the counter positions and (politely) refused to move until they addressed our issues…namely that we needed new tickets and this was, after all, a ticketing and check in counter.

One guy that was in our boat but not with our little rabble rousing group started making comments to the effect of “Anybody need a job? It looks like US Airways needs to hire some competent people” At which point one of the ticketing agents threatened to call security and have him removed. I couldn’t quite discern what he said that rose to the level of calling security, and I was kind of hoping that they’d call them, just to see how it would play out, but she never called and the guy eventually quieted down.

Anyway, the ticketing agents finally decided that they’d better do something with us so one agent finally started dealing with all of us who had just missed our flight. We eventually all got scheduled onto later flights, some were not happy with the flights that were available (mainly the ones who weren’t going to get where they were going until the next day), but we all got placed.

So…what they worked out for me was a flight to Charlotte (on an overbooked flight for which they had to ask for volunteers to take an even later flight) that was to arrive at about 1:30pm. Then there was a flight to Norfolk leaving at 2:35pm, but it was full and the system wouldn’t allow a Denver ticketing agent to overbook a Charlotte flight, so he booked me as a standby on that one. The next flight from Charlotte to Norfolk was leaving at 6:00pm and he also got me a seat on that one just in case.

Of course, the later flight would mean that I’d miss my granddaughter’s birthday party, but hopefully I’d get a seat on the earlier flight.

OK. Of course the flight from Denver to Charlotte was delayed (trying to figure out who was going to get on the flight and who wasn’t was another fiasco in and of itself), so we ended up getting into Charlotte just before 2. By the time we got to the gate and off the plane it was about 2:10. That meant that the flight to Norfolk was already boarding and I had barely 15 minutes to get from Terminal B to Terminal E and find the gate.

I ran…as best I could dragging a carry-on suitcase, a computer bag and an extra 40 pounds around my gut. I’m sure it was quite a sight.

I made it by about 2:20…arriving at the gate just in time to hear the announcement that there would be a slight delay before boarding. Whew..at least I hadn’t missed it.

I went up to the counter for the gate (that counter served gates 4, 6 and 8, I was leaving from gate 6), and told the nice lady there that I had a standby ticket and asked what I needed to do to see if I was going to get a seat. She said that I needed to wait until the plane was boarded and then they’d see if there was a seat for me. She then asked my name, which I gave, and I believed from that, that they’d call my name when the time came to let me know.

So, we sat there for a few minutes and then a different lady, the one actually at the door for gate 6, announced the start of boarding. The normal routine ensued until it was obvious that they’d finished boarding, but no one called my name. I started getting nervous and walked back up to the desk. The lady I’d spoken to the first time asked if she could help me. I reminded her that I was waiting to see if I’d gotten a seat on the plane and she replied “OK” with a smile. My impression was that I should continue waiting…but, as I said, I had gotten nervous so I just kept standing at the counter.

About that time, the lady who had been at the door for gate 6 walked up to the counter and started fiddling with a computer. She noticed me standing there and she asked “can I help you?” I told her I was waiting to see if I’d gotten a seat and she replied: “Oh yes, I’ve got an empty seat for you. When you’re on stand by, you need to speak to the gate agent. I didn’t even know we had any standby passengers for this flight.”

I didn’t have time to be angry because she reprinted a boarding pass with a seat assignment and hustled me out the door before they could close it up.

But…What.The.Heck.

Don’t the people that are all working the same counter talk to each other? Isn’t there a process for this? If the process for a standby is for the passenger to talk to the gate agent and ONLY to the gate agent on the gate for their flight, why didn’t the lady at the counter that took my name tell me this? And why the heck did she take my name in the first place if she wasn’t going to give it to the other gate agent? And then why didn’t she tell me this the SECOND time I approached her about it?

US Airways…strike two.

OK…so I got on the plane. It was a small plane with only two rows of seats on each side. No problem there. It was completely full (after I took the last seat). No problem there. The cabin air conditioning wasn’t working. BIG problem there.

They disconnected the ground A/C unit in preparation for leaving…AFTER which the pilots or someone decided they needed more paperwork filled out. We sat there for about 15 minutes or so with the cabin getting hotter and hotter, until the flight attendant (I wasn’t tempted to call this guy a stewardess anyway, so there’s that) finally asked for the ground A/C unit to be hooked back up. I’d guess it was close to 100 degrees in the cabin by the time that happened. I was actually feeling a bit woozy and nauseous from the heat. I can’t imagine how badly the older passengers were suffering.

I’m not sure the ground A/C ever actually got hooked up because I felt no discernible difference, but at least it didn’t seem like it got any hotter after that, so maybe they did.

Anyway, after about 30 or 40 minutes in the sweltering heat while the flight crew finished up a little paperwork (or at least that’s what the flight attendant told us they were doing…was this some sort of new, surprise paperwork they’d never had to fill out before? Because it seems to me that if they’d been doing this for, say, more than a week, they’d know what needed to be filled out and have it done before boarding the passengers, but what do I know, I was only in Aviation for 21 years) we finally got underway.

The cabin A/C units generally run off bleed air from the engines, so I was expecting, as soon as the pilots got the main engines online, that the cabin A/C would kick in and it would start cooling off.

Silly me. Apparently the A/C was completely non-functional, not just unable to operate under the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). It did cool off slightly once we reached altitude, but it was already so hot in there, that it really didn’t make much difference, and since there was no fresh air forthcoming from the little air nozzles above our heads, it was still very stuffy for the entire flight and never got below probably 90 degrees. Luckily, it was only a little over an hour flight time so no one died of heat stroke during the experience.

Strike Three US Airways.

I’d normally call “You’re Out!” at this point, but the adventure wasn’t finished quite yet.

I finally arrived at the Norfolk airport, was greeted by my relieved, smiling wife and we adjourned to the baggage claim area to claim my bag.

Or not.

It was still in Charlotte.

Strike Four.

Now you’re REALLY out.

The ironic thing is that, when the ticketing agent in Denver was setting up the whole “standby on one flight, seat on a later flight” thing, he warned me that my bag would be placed on the earlier flight whether I made it onboard or not. If I ended up on the later flight, I’d have to get my bag from the US Airways baggage counter rather than pick it up from the carousel.

Apparently he was sadly misinformed. I’d call strike 5, but after a while it just gets silly to keep counting.

I’m not even sure that my bag made it onto the 6pm flight because they didn’t call to tell me it was in Norfolk until this morning.

At any rate, we finally did make it to at least the tail end of my granddaughter’s birthday party, and my bag arrived from Charlotte so I was able to collect it today, but that was the single worst travel experience of my very long, very extensive traveling career.

I will never fly US Airways again, I don’t care how cheap the tickets are. Some things are simply more important than a few dollars. So now you know why I titled this post as I did.

And yes, I realize that this is the longest post I’ve put up in months. Sometimes anger and frustration can be a great motivator.

I am the 53%

Great counter to the “99%” nonsense via Lawyer with a Gun.

Here’s Mine:

I’ve been working full time since I was 16 years old (that’s 31 years for those who are counting).  I joined the Navy at 17 and served my country for 21 years, spending long periods overseas, away from home and missing birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.

I’ve worked two jobs more than once to make ends meet when it was necessary.  Twice I had to take jobs that required me to commute 250 miles from home during the week and return home only on the weekends.  I did it because it’s my responsibility to take care of myself and my family, not anyone else’s.

I completed an Associate’s degree with a 4.0 gpa and no debt by taking courses one and two at a time and paying for it as I went…while also working 50 to 60 hours a week.

The longest period of unemployment I’ve ever experienced was five weeks.  During that time, I made it my job to find a job.  I worked 8 to 10 hours a day doing nothing but searching for jobs, submitting resumes, going to job fairs, walking in for “informational interviews” etc.  I did not apply for unemployment because I had my emergency savings to live on during that time.

I took the first reasonable job offer I got even though it wasn’t a job I wanted;  it is MY responsibility to earn the money I need to live on, even if it’s not doing what I want to do.  I used that job as a springboard to future employment and am now happily working in my chosen field at a good company at a good salary.

I’ve raised two children who are now adults and are both employed, self-sufficient, contributing members of society.  I have four beautiful grandchildren which is really irrelevant to this rant, but I just like to boast.

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  My life has not all been sunshine and roses and I face new challenges every day.   I do not expect the government, the Banks, Wall Street or anyone else to deal with those challenges for me.  That’s my job.   I am the 53%.