Rambling

I know that the really popular bloggers put up a post every day, or at least on a regular schedule.

I used to do that as well, back when I was really striving to grow my readership. I pretty much stopped blogging for quite a while for several reasons:

– The gun blogosphere had expanded to the point that there were many voices saying the same things I was saying, and generally saying them better.
– The political landscape was deteriorating to the point that it was disheartening to post on it (that hasn’t changed).
– The big reason is it was starting to feel more like a job than a hobby.

I’ve never even tried to monetize my blog. For a while I was selling CD’s of my gunsmithing posts to raise money to buy a new computer, but that only lasted a year or so, and I’ve had that “new” computer for well over a decade now (and I still use it), so there was never a financial incentive to expand my audience, I was only in this because I wanted a place to vent, and to some degree I felt I had something to add to the conversation.

So, When I started feeling that I was no longer adding anything fresh to the discussion, I took a (long) break).

Now I’m back, but again, this is just a hobby for me. I started again in dribs and drabs just because I had something in my head that I wanted to get out there. I’ve been posting a bit more regularly, but I’m just venting, writing when I think I have something useful to add, or interesting to share, not just to put up a post.

I’ve been working on a remodeling project lately that has taken a lot of my “not at work” time. I stripped the oldest bathroom in my house down to studs and am in the process of rebuilding it. It had some issues and honestly I was expecting to find a lot of water damage in the walls and under the floors, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. It’s a small space so in the process we’re getting rid of the tub and putting in a shower stall. Slow going, but making good progress. I’m almost ready to paint the drywall parts and then start laying tile.

Still working on trying to buy property in a remote undisclosed location. That has hit some snags but we’re trying to move it forward. We’ll see what happens.

Doing my best to move forward, trying to prepare for an uncertain future and hedge my bets, all while actually living and enjoying my life rather than cowering in fear over a not particularly deadly virus.

I’m not very optimistic about the future of our society and haven’t been for over a decade. I think we’ve passed the tipping point. Entire generations have been indoctrinated into the cult of anti-individualism, explicit racism and communistic government control over speech, personal choices and lifestyle.

If we can get the electoral system straightened out in enough states, Republicans may actually even win a national election or two before being completely inundated, but the time is coming when the “traditional” American culture of rugged individualism, personal responsibility and individual liberty will be overwhelmed by collectivism and top down control over every aspect of our lives.

That’s just the way human nature goes. The vast majority of people want nothing more than a sense of security (false or not), and being relieved of the responsibility for making, and facing the consequences of, their own decisions. Most human beings simply want to be “kept”. It’s much easier than being self-reliant and independent. And they’re not even particularly concerned about the conditions in which they’re “kept” as long as it’s not abject misery…and as long as most of the people around them are in the same situation, so they’ve no grounds for jealousy.

At any rate, there’s nothing I can do about it. The leftist worldview isn’t compatible with “live and let live”. They won’t voluntarily leave me alone to make my own decisions and suffer my own consequences, so my best option is to find a place as far away from the people who would control my life as possible, ensure I have good sight lines to the approaches to my redoubt, and post signs on the property line that say “No trespassing: if you can read this, you’re in range”.

So that’s where I’m at. This started out as just an explanation as to why I haven’t posted lately and ended up rambling into a State of the Union address, but there it is.

Your mileage may vary.

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Vaccination doubts

I was already skeptical of the vaccination. First I don’t think it’s necessary for a virus with a 98+% survival rate in my demographic group and a 99+% survival rate when the proper treatment regimens are applied.

Secondly, the “vaccinations” being pushed did not even meet the medical definition of “vaccination” a few months ago and only do now because they changed the definition to match it. The mRNA techniques are new, have never been used on this scale and the long term effects of tricking your own body into producing the proteins that then stimulate your immune system into attack mode are completely unknown.

Thirdly, the rate of serious side effects from these “vaccines” is significantly higher than would have been tolerated in a vaccine just a few years ago…not to mention that the CDC keeps downplaying and soft-pedaling these side effects, even while acknowledging that they’re happening.

Fourthly, while possibly more contagious, all indications that the “Delta” variant that has become the most prevalent strain of the virus at the moment, is much less virulent than previous iterations and has a mortality rate virtually identical with common influenza (look at the case fatality table on page 8).

This is what viruses do. Viruses persist by spreading from host to host. In order for a host to spread the virus to another host, it has to be alive. As viruses mutate, the more deadly strains die out because they don’t proliferate. The strains that do survive are the ones that don’t make the hosts sick enough to die (or even to go into isolation for that matter, when you get sick enough to go to a hospital, you’ll be isolated, hence not spreading the virus, even if you survive).

They’re claiming that the Delta variant is more transmissible than previous variants and that may be true, but the only evidence they have is a marginal uptick in total cases and the percentage of that total that is of the Delta variant is increasing rapidly.

Yes, that could mean that Delta is more transmissible, but it also could simply be a function of it being less virulent (which has already been demonstrated). If people are getting less sick from it, fewer will seek medical treatment, will remain in public longer and will spread it to more people.

But all of that is just to lead up to my final point via “The Last Refuge”:

The government push to promote vaccinations for COVID-19 has gone well beyond reasonable advancement for the public health. Now, we are entering a phase where the ongoing demand is becoming problematic, propaganda.

I am a cynic by nature. When someone starts trying to push me into doing something, my first reaction is to question their motives. What business is it of theirs anyway? Why should they care if I choose to make different decisions than they do? If there is a reasonable explanation for it, and their argument is convincing, I can be persuaded. But the harder I’m pushed to just blindly accept that their prescription for me is “for my own good”, especially when the facts right in front of my face bring that contention into question, the less likely I am to bend to their will.

I distinctly feel like I’m being pushed right now in a direction, I’m not sure I want to go. Until I make up my mind that I want to go that way, I’m going to keep pushing back.

If I eventually have to get a vaccine to function in the world, I’d be much more likely to accept the upcoming and as-yet unapproved Novavax vaccine.

The Novavax vaccine does not trick our own cells into creating the protein that activates the immune response, the Novavax vaccine uses the more traditional approach of injecting inactivated virus particles to trigger the response. This is tried and true technology that has been in use for years in vaccines such as the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Even under an emergency use authorization, I’d be much more willing to try a vaccine created using longstanding and proven techniques rather than a relatively new technology with unknown long term side effects.

But the bottom line is that I feel that the risks of accepting a vaccine released under emergency authorization and using relatively new and untried technology outweigh the benefits of defeating a virus with a high survival rate and the harder they push me to accept their position over my own, the harder I’m going to resist.

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Revelations

I haven’t posted in a few days…I was actually out of town.

My Aunt Ann passed away on the 3rd and I went home for her funeral. I’ve actually lived in my current location for much longer than I lived in Indiana where I grew up, but I still consider myself a Hoosier at heart and consider central Indiana home.

Anyway, I went home for my Aunt Ann’s funeral. She was 83, a good god-fearing woman, a schoolteacher, wife of 61 years and mother of four. She had a rough last year so it’s good that she’s at peace and with God. Uncle Bill, her husband and my Dad’s brother, is also not doing well and I fear he won’t be long behind her. My Dad had 9 siblings, of which only 4 remain.

At any rate, while at the funeral, I found out a couple of things about my Dad that I thought I’d mention for posterity.

First, during the funeral, my Mom spoke. She related how, as a young college student at Marion College (now called Virginia Wesleyan University), her roommate and best friend Ann had invited her to go home to Sheridan with her over a weekend. Once they got there, Ann had a date with her boyfriend Bill, Ann didn’t want to leave Mom out, so she told her that Bill had a brother and asked my Mom if she’d be willing to go with Bill’s brother as her date.

Mom said she’d never been on a blind date before so she was a bit reluctant but, for her friend, she agreed. That’s where she met Ray, my father. If it hadn’t been for Aunt Ann, I’d have never existed. I owe her my life and I never even knew it.

To be fair, I’m sure at some point or another I’d heard that story before, but I hadn’t remembered it. I’m glad for the reminder.

The other thing I found out just by accident. I remember my Dad having a private pilot’s license when I was young. A few times, Dad would rent a little Cessna or Piper from the local grass strip airport and we’d fly around and look at the county with a bird’s eye view. I always thought that was the coolest thing. It eventually got too expensive and he let his license lapse, but those are some good memories.

What I didn’t know, and what I found out, is that my Dad had actually gotten his pilot’s license while he was in high school. He and a friend, right after high school, went in together and bought a small plane that they hangered and flew out of the tiny Sheridan airport. Mom said that after they met, he would occasionally fly to Marion from Sheridan to meet with her and go on dates.

When he was drafted into the army in 1956, he sold his interest in the plane and he and Mom got married. He still flew enough to keep his license active up until the early 1970’s, but I never knew he’d started so young or owned (half) a plane.

I know they’re not earth shattering discoveries or anything like that, but they’re just little tidbits that bring my Father’s life just a little bit more in focus. He wasn’t one to talk much about himself so although I know the broad strokes of his life, it’s the little details that are missing so when I get some of those from someone else, it fills in a little blank spot and brings him just a bit more to life for me. These are the kinds of little details that, when Mom and I are talking about him, don’t normally come out unless something specific in the conversation sparks the memory.

I need to have more conversations like that with her. If I find out any more little tidbits, I’ll write them here as well so hopefully, these stories won’t all be lost to time.

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News

Sorry for the dearth of posting lately.

I’ve had a long time dream of owning a decent sized piece of land in remote location for the triple purpose of: vacation camping spot, zombie apocalypse refuge and potential site for our retirement home.

I had a particular area of a particular state in mind and have been looking for a suitable location off and on for several years now.

The Wife had found four possibilities fairly close together so Last weekend we took a trip out there and had a look. One of them turned out to be pretty much just what we were looking for and since then we’ve been working on making that happen. It’s actually quite a bit smaller than we had in mind (16.4 acres rather than the 25 to 30 we were hoping for) but it’s laid out in a way that suits our purposes very well and there’s some additional land around it that may come up for sale at some point so we may be able to expand our holdings. Being smaller made it less expensive than what we were expecting to spend as well, so there’s that.

Anyway, since then we’ve been working feverishly on getting the money together and putting in an offer. Our offer was accepted, so now we’ve just got to get through all the closing stuff. If everything goes according to plan, the land should be ours in about a month. That’s what’s been occupying my spare time lately so I just haven’t had much time for blogging.

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Back in the Saddle Again

I coached little league baseball and softball off and on for about 12 years when my kids were playing. Some of the best times with my kids in that role.

A couple of weeks ago, my son told me that grandson Kellen is playing this year. He was going to start last year, but the season was canceled because of the Wuhan Chinese Virus AKA Kung Flu AKA Flu Manchu.

At any rate, he’s playing this year and my son is coaching…family tradition and all that. The problem is that in addition to that, he’s working and going to school for his Master’s Degree. He has classes on Monday nights and can’t be there for little league practice…so I’m going to be the fallback, pick Kellen up on Mondays and stand in as coach during those Monday practices.

This is going to be fun.

Two of the three older grandkids got into communist football (AKA soccer) rather than America’s pastime, and the third plays field hockey; so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to enjoy this. There are still three more grandkids not yet at the age to decide what athletic endeavors they want to pursue so here’s hoping for the future.

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Customer Service

I’ve recently been fighting with Lenovo customer support to try to get a tablet computer repaired under warranty.

First they told me that the repair wasn’t covered because I used an aftermarket standard USB cable to connect to the standard USB port on the tablet rather than their branded Lenovo standard USB cable.

Um…which part of “standard” is confusing here? If it’s a standard port, it shouldn’t matter that I used a standard cable, as long as it comports with the same…er…standards…and nothing in their documentation indicates that only their Lenovo cable will work or that using other cables voids the warranty.

Anyway, I finally talked them into doing the repair under warranty (which took several weeks and several escalating phone calls).

Finally, about 5 weeks after shipping the tablet to them, I finally got it back…and discovered that they only fixed half the problem. Yes, the USB connector was not working, but neither was the HDMI connector. All the argument was about the USB cable I used, so after they agreed to fix it, that’s ALL they fixed…they didn’t fix the HDMI connector.

End result, another phone call to customer support and yesterday I shipped the unit back to them to get the REST of what was wrong with it repaired. We’ll see how that goes. I wonder if they’ll refuse to fix it since now, over a month after initially shipping the unit to them for repair, the warranty has expired…or they’ll claim that using a non-lenovo HDMI cable (I don’t think they even make HDMI cables) voids the warranty. I’ll let you know.

Anyway, my diatribe was prompted by This Post at author Michael Z. Williamson’s blog that relates how a company can do customer service the RIGHT way (it’s a very short post so I won’t excerpt any of it, please follow the link for more info about a company you really should do business with).

I still don’t understand why companies will insist on trying to save a few bucks by treating customers the way that Lenovo has treated me. They turned me from someone who was fairly satisfied with their product and would probably recommend it to others, into someone who will say “don’t buy their stuff…it’s not built well enough to be reliable and if it breaks they’ll do anything they can to get out of fixing it”.

It seems to me that good customer service is much more economically rewarding in the long term than the $100 or so they tried to charge me for a repair that is expressly covered under the warranty.

Heck, if you don’t want to have to make warranty repairs, don’t sell junk that breaks within a year. That’s a much better solution than alienating customers who will never purchase another product from you again…like…me, for instance.

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Interesting Things

Remember a few posts back when I said that you can see some interesting things while on the road?

Well, being “on the road” to Germany is no exception.

This beauty was parked outside a local grocery store a couple of days ago. There was another guy taking a picture of it with his cell phone while I was standing there, so it obviously is not a typical sight.

On the way back to the apartment from the grocery store I saw this guy riding down the street. I had to put my bags down and get my phone out to take a picture so he got a little farther away than I’d have liked…but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a sidecar on a scooter.

I wouldn’t think it would have enough “oomph” to go with anyone in the sidecar. Maybe it’s just for looks.

And, finally, an example of your typical German street.

Not enough room on the road for parking? Easy, just park half on the sidewalk.

This seems to be SOP for any narrow street with fairly low curbs.

You see some interesting things on the road.

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Bad Blogger!

I’ve been remiss in updating for a while because there’s been a lot going on and I’ve just been pretty much on the run.

The week after Kellen was born, I headed out on a business trip.

Some of you may recognize this skyline.  The white skinny structure to the left gives it away.

Yes, that’s the space needle.  I spent the week in Seattle a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, my time was taken up with business so I didn’t have a chance to get together with any of the fine gun bloggers in the area.  There are a bunch in the Washington State area and it’s a shame I didn’t have time.

Maybe next time…and there will be a next time.

BTW:  for anyone who’s never been there, the above shot was taken from Highway 5 on the way into town.  There’s a place where you come over a hill and around a curve and the skyline just appears before you.  It’s breathtaking the first time you see it.

Of course, the weather for the week was typical Seattle spring:  cloudy, drizzly and dreary.

After I got home from that trip, we got ready for the next one…back to Indiana in a whirlwind 4 day round trip.

Since the crash and the miracle that is my sister’s recovery, she has become all to conscious of the fact that life is too short and precious to let any of it go to waste.  She and her fiance of several years finally decided to tie the knot.  Once the decision was made, they didn’t want to waste any time, so it happened pretty quickly.

It was a beautiful, small and tasteful ceremony and The Wife and I were thrilled to be able to attend.

I present Mr. and Mrs. Bart and Yolanda Butler.

Her eyes look a little off because she didn’t want the pictures taken with her glasses on…but that means she was essentially blind while they were being taken.

That minor point aside, they make a great looking couple don’t they?

I haven’t seen her that happy in a long time.

I got some pretty good pictures so I’m going to share a couple.  I may put more up on Flikr or something.

The bride and step-dad Bill

The flower girl was Yolanda’s daughter Paradyse

She’s a cutie isn’t she?

She’s smart as a whip and is very affectionate too.  She’s gonna be a heartbreaker.

Cutting the Cake

Anyway, it was a great day.

In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be going to Germany on a business trip, during which time The Wife is going to go on a road trip back to Indiana to spend time with the happy couple and also to Wisconsin to see some of her family, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any less busy any time soon.

Oh well…keeps life interesting.

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