All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


My Own Grandpa

Two men met at a bus stop and struck up a conversation. One of them kept complaining of family problems.

Finally, the other man said, "You think you have family problems? Listen to my situation. A few years ago, I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter, and we got married. Later my father married my stepdaughter. That made my stepdaughter my stepmother and my father became my stepson. Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law.

"Then the daughter of my wife, my stepmother, had a son. This boy was my half-brother because he was my father's son, but he was also the son of my wife's daughter, which made him my wife's grandson. That made me the grandfather of my half-brother.

"This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half-sister of my son, my stepmother, is also the grandmother. This makes my father the brother-in-law of my child, whose stepsister is my father's wife. I'm my stepmother's brother-in-law, my wife is her own child's aunt, my son is my father's nephew and I'm my own grandfather!

"And you think you have family problems!"


Non Issue

Wal-Mart: Worker wrong to refuse alcohol sale

A Wal-Mart supervisor said Monday that a worker was wrong to refuse to sell alcohol to a 57-year-old Iowa man just because his 15-year-old daughter did not have identification.
"What happened is not consistent with the intent of our policy," said Brian Nick, director of national media relations for the chain. "The last thing you want to do is create an atmosphere where people feel they can't be in the store purchasing things with their children."
Um OK.  Guy goes into store to buy some stuff plus some booze with his daughter.  Got it.  Cashier says no way.  Some how we are supposed to believe that the Wal-Mart cashier is automatically in the wrong. 

Missing from both articles is some very important information that would be helpful to understanding what happened.  I'd like to know is what the cashier saw.  Did the daughter unload the cart?  Did the daughter stand at the register like maybe she was going to pay for it?  Did it look like the daughter was the one making the purchase?  If it did, then the cashier was perfectly in her right to ask for ID, from the daughter.  Did the man who allegedly wanted to buy the booze ask to speak to a manger about the purchase or did he storm off and drum up some bad publicity for Wal-Mart?

Here is how it works for those of you who have never sold alcohol.  The person making the sale is the one responsible for the transaction, not the buyer and not the store.  The person who will pay the $750 fine and/or face jail time and court costs is the cashier.  The cashier won't get the backing of the stores management if s/he sells to a minor.  They will get fired and face the legal music alone. If you're running the register at Wal-Mart, chances are that you don't have all that many upward career options.  Maybe just maybe you need your dead end job.

With that in mind lets take another look at the situation.  Girl comes in with an older guy.  She seems to be a party to the transaction.  They are buying booze.  Because $750 is about half a months pay, and because you know the cops have been doing underage stings and because you need your thankless job, you card the girl.  The girl is underage/has no ID.  So you tell her you can't sell her any alcohol.  The customer gets mad.

So far all of this looks just like a situation with an underage girl trying to get booze and an older guy trying to score on the girl.  The clerk doesn't know the girl is your daughter.  If that is what the cashier saw, and what s/he thought, then guess what, you ain't buying any booze at that register.  Everything you've done looks fishy.  There is zero legal penalty for not giving you the beer.

Now I know the average person working at Wal-Mart isn't going to win a Rhoads Scholarship, beauty contest, or award for most personable person on the planet.  So its possible and even likely you simply had a cashier that was in a bad mood that day.  The way to handle that is to ask for a manager, show them your ID and pay for the purchase.  As it is, it looks more like an attention whore throwing a fit over an imagined insult.   


What should the USA's official position on Israel, its boarders etc be?

On one hand we don't need to have a position on this subject.  Israel is on the other side of the world from us, has no intention of invading the US and otherwise isn't a threat to our safety.  If Israel ever attempts to invade the United States, we should rethink our policy.

On the other hand, its none of our business.  None.  We don't have a dog in this fight.  Our policy should be to inform US citizens that hanging out in Israel could be unhealthy and that this year might not be the best time to take in that Holy Land tour that you always want to go on.  That's it.  It's not our country.  It's not even our neighborhood.  It's not our business. 

That whole thing in Gaza, that's a local police matter.  There is no such thing as a Palestinian.  There is such a thing as political Islamic terrorists who want to destroy a Jewish state.  Since Israel is that Jewish state, they should take care of the situation themselves.  If Jimmy Carter (the white Obama) would have butted out and let the Israelis solved their problem, instead of legitimizing the terrorists, the whole mess would have been over a generation ago.  Carter was looking for a positive footnote beside his name in the pages of history and screw what's best for America and everybody else.

What about the religious significance of Israel and the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant?  Well what about them?  Israel as it exists today is a secular parliamentary democracy with an underlying socialist philosophy much like the rest of the western world.  For arguments sake, and because it is a historical fact, lets consider the historic/religious aspect.

Some Christians believe they should support the Jews because God will bless those that bless them.  Fair enough.  Islam believes that the texts known as the bible are legitimate in so far as they don't contradict the Koran.  The Jews of course accept that their historic texts are accurate, although most Israelis are secular and not religious according to the Torah.  Do any of those books have anything to say about Israel's boarders?  The Koran. NO.  The Christian New Testament. NO.  The Jewish Torah.  Yes.  What it says is:
On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites"
What that breaks down to is a land area that extends from Egypt on the South to the Jordan River valley on the east, the Mediterranean on the West and The Euphrates on the North. Historically Israel has never occupied all of this land.  However, the Bible says what it says and since three of the worlds major religions agree, in principle, that it is binding, so be it.

In that case, what should the US's position on Israel's boarder be?  The exact same as before.  So long as they stay within those binderies, we don't have a dog in this fight.  We need to butt out and let the IDF handle the situation.  The best thing we can do for Israel is stay home and shut up while they sort out their own issues.  The US will do a better job serving Israel, our own interests, and world peace by staying home and staying quite.  Need proof?  Ask the Christians in Iraq.  What can't find any?  There were communities of Christians living there, as they had for 2,000 years before the US came in and "helped" that country.  Now those that managed to avoid being killed are in hiding.  Sometimes you help best by not helping.

Which is why we should let the Jews fought their own wars, managed their own territories otherwise handle their own business.  These people have been fighting for close to 4,300 years.  We can't solve it.  We shouldn't try.



I've been kicking this around in my head and wanted to get it down someplace.

"If you are a man, it is impossible for you to 'get in touch with your feminine side'.  You don't have one.  You're a man.  If God wanted you to have a "feminine side" he would have made you female.  In the beginning God created them male and female, not metrosexual and less hairy menstruating metrosexual with mammaries.  Want to get in touch with the feminine?  Get married.  Touch her.  See, it's nice isn't it?  It's nice because you're a man.  She was made that way to please you.  Do you know why no one ever tells a women to get in touch with her masculine side?  Nobody likes a less hairy metrosexual with man boobs.  It's a offense against nature.  MALE.  FEMALE.  That's it.  There is no benefit to a man being slightly women or a women trying to be a man.  It doesn't work that way.  Call it a design feature."
This rant brought to you courtesy of all the idiots claiming to be Christians who can't be bothered to glean even the slightest clue regarding the natural God made differences between the sexes.  We've made a huge mess of women wanting to be men and men trying to please women by thinking/acting like them. 

My grandmothers had no problem understanding things as "a man's point of view".  "Man talk" and "women talk" weren't bad things that somehow degraded the other person just by existing.  They knew that women and men didn't see the world in the same way.  Somehow that was OK.


5 X 5

Back on January 26th of this year I started my quest to become less of a man.  Less of a man in terms of mass and total percentage of body fat.  I hadn't lifted weights or worked out since I was in my 20's, and it showed.

My "method" of getting "in shape" consisted of Googling "weight lifting for weight loss" and picking a workout routine that the readers of a weightlifting website voted as "the best".  I also made an effort to think about eating less junk food.  I bought a gym membership and started on a 6 day a week workout routine after work.

I made it a point to only weigh myself once a month and not obsess about early results.  The rational being that so long as I was sticking to the schedule and making an effort, I would see results at some point. I set a weight loss goal of 18 to 30 months to achieve a target weight and 6 to 8 months to reach a "ideal" workout target for the amount of weight I was lifting.

The first couple of months went fairly good.  I did most of what I set out to do and my strength was growing according to schedule.  Then I hit a wall, or a plateau depending on how you look at it.  I stopped being able to increase the weights I was lifting.  My body weight remained steady and then started yo-yoing on me.  I was tired of my workouts and discouraged about my results.

I needed a new plan.

So I asked an older guy at the gym what he thought I should do.  He suggest that I forget about the system I was doing and focus on getting my strength at target levels BEFORE even THINKING ABOUT LOSSING WEIGHT AGAIN.  That seemed like crap advice to me, since the goal is to lose weight.  So I floundered around for another 6 weeks or so not making any progress and even putting a couple of pounds back on.  It seems like maybe two or three other guys gave me the exact same advice too.

A couple of points about lifting weights to lose weight:
  1. Advice on weight lifting routines to "lose weight" should be taken with a grain of salt.  Skip that.  Advice on the internet designed to help a person who is at 10% body fat drop down to 7% body fat so they can go to a competition might not work so great if you need to drop inches and pounds.
  2. If you're really out of shape, getting muscle back should be the priority, not dropping pounds.  This is counter intuitive.  It is also correct.  Focus on getting to your target performance level.  If you want to rep 10 X 275lbs on the bench (or whatever combination of lifting exercise goals) as a way to lose body fat then focus on getting to the 275lbs not on dropping weight.
  3. IF you're old, meaning over 30, 40, 50 etc, admit it and deal with it.  You might need more than one rest day a week to recover and get stronger/leaner.
  4. There is no "perfect" or "best" plan that works for everyone, every time.
  5. If you don't have a plan, pick one.  Any one.  That's right it doesn't matter much.  Just start lifting correctly and stick with the routine for at lest 3 months.
  6. Reevaluate after 90 days of doing the plan.  Now you have started a new habit and you have some kind of idea about how your body is reacting to the exercise.
  7. Get a new plan and try it for 90 days.
  8. Rinse and repeat.
I just started a new plan.  I had a couple of people tell me about Strong Lifts 5 X 5.  The guy running the website isn't doing anything new.  In fact its a very old weightlifting concept that he has borrowed from other people.  He's not selling anything.  He doesn't claim it was his idea.  He just promotes it, and for lots of people, it seems to work.

What I like about the new plan:
  • All free weights all the time.  I had become dependent on the Smith machine.  I like the Smith Machine.  If you are lifting late at night, by your lonesome its nice to be able to twist your wrists and "save" yourself from a bad rep.  BUT by the time you're pressing/squatting etc 200lbs or better on the Smith, you're in good enough shape to use the free weights and get your balance and auxiliary muscles into the act.  I was stuck with my crutch and need to move on.
  • It takes 35 to 45 minutes including warm up to get it all done.
  • It's a "major muscle group" plan.  I had been doing all the muscle groups individually once a week and wasn't making much progress.
  • I'm doing 3 exercises I wasn't doing before.
  • Once you plateau there is a plan designed to move you into more "advanced" lifting.
What I need to do to advance my over all fitness goals:
  • Add regular moderate cardio.
  • Get a flexibility routine
  • Work on diet.  I like "healthy" foods, I just like eating refined carbs too.  The carbs are killing me, probably literally.
  • I'm thinking that a massage routine might help my recovery.  The problem is that I don't have that kind of money in the budget right now.
I'm going to do the new plan for 12 weeks and reevaluate my progress.

Flight Delay Announcement

A passenger on a Southwest flight says that he once faced a flight delay just before they boarded.

A flight attendant picked up the microphone and announced:

"We're sorry for the delay. The machine that normally rips the handles off your luggage is broken, so we're having to do it by hand. We should be finished and on our way shortly."



A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce. He asked, "What are the grounds for your divorce?"

She replied, "About four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property with a stream running by."

"No," he said, "I mean what is the foundation of this case?"

"It is made of concrete, brick, and mortar," she responded.

"I mean," he continued, "what are your relations like?"

"I have an aunt and uncle living here in town, and so do my husband's parents."

He said, "Do you have a real grudge?"

"No," she replied, "we have a two-car carport and have never really needed one."

"Please," he tried again, "is there any infidelity in your marriage?"

"Yes, both my son and daughter have stereo sets. We don't necessarily like the music, but the answer to your question is yes."

"Ma'am, does your husband ever beat you up?"

"Yes," she responded, "about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do."

Finally, in frustration, the judge asked, "Lady, why do you want a divorce?"

"Oh, I don't want a divorce," she replied. "I've never wanted a divorce. My husband does. He said he can't talk to me."



The Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship formerly the International Tactical Rifle Championship is the long distance shooting event I've been working with for about 4 years now.  Each year I make the pilgrimage to the Bliss Ranch in northern Wyoming / southern Montana to participate.

The event is a two man team display of firearms skill designed to test the shooters ability under field conditions.  Part one of the event is a two day game of sniper golf.  Part two is direct team on team shooting contests.  These games change every year, but normally there are long range egg shoots, exploding targets, man on man spinning plate racks, fast draw work etc.  In the past there has been strafing exercises from helicopters, zip line events etc.
The course of fire consists of four courses which each have between seven or eight shooting stations.  Each course is approximately a mile, give or take, long.  The shooting stations have a variety of steel targets at various unknown distances.  Target size is generally either a 10x10in steel square or a 6in triangle.  The targets are suspended above the ground in such a way as to mimic a live target in a real fire solution situation.  They can be partially concealed behind trees/dead falls, terrain, shadow, or in line with the rising or setting sun.  Yes Frank, Chris and Chuck can be a real pain in the backside.  They do this on purpose. 

Targets are designated as handgun, carbine, rifle or bonus.  The shooting teams walks/runs each course.  The course is timed.  Each team is allowed two hours to solve all of their stations on the course.  There is a minimum of one hour spacing between each team start on each of the courses.  A range officer serves as a safety supervisor and as the official score keeper.  The RO rides/drives a ATV and arrives ahead of the team at each shooting station.  The course is well marked and the shooting stations are well defined. 

Upon arrival at the station the RO informs the team the number and type of targets to be engaged.  Example:  There are 4 pistol, 8 carbine and 6 rifle targets and one bonus rifle target.  The team must locate, guide the RO's attention to, and shoot the targets in the order they indicate.  Typically the pistol targets are cleared first, then the carbine and finally the rifle.  As soon as the RO declares the weapons clear he will lead the team to the next station and the process will repeat until all stations are completed.  Time ends when the team crosses the finish line.

A shooting station may or may not have all four of the different target options.  The course designers change this aspect of the shoot each year.  Typically targets are placed in such a way as to provide a large and realistic set of shooting solutions.  This may look like: A series of handgun targets at ranges of 8 to 35 yards with a smaller bonus target at 45 yards; or, A series of carbine targets scattered over a range of 80 to 500 yards, some of which may be concealed and/or difficult to locate, a bonus target in this case may be a 625 yard target in an area known to have particularly interesting cross winds; or, rifle targets arranged at distances of 100 to 1,200 yards, although typically the distances are inside of 1,000 yards.

The game is played by awarding points for hits and deducting for misses or failing to engage the target.  Each target must be engaged twice.  10 points are awarded for a hit and 10 points are deducted for a miss.  Failure to engage is minus 20 points for each required engagement.  A team will receive 1 point for each minute under par (2 hours) that they finish the course early.   A par score for each of the courses may be between 2,400 to 2,800 points. 

Any type of equipment can be used, except the organizers are not fond of the 50 bmg, or similar rounds that do damage to the targets.  Most shooters don't want to lug around that heavy of rifle anyway.  I don't think I've seen anything bigger than a 338, and I can't imagine wanting to spend two days humping and shooting that rig.  All equipment that a team will use, including for the team on team events must be carried on the precision portion of the course.  That means if the carbine shooter wants to use a bolt action for precision work, he may, however he must pack his AR each day if he wants to use it for action shooting. 

Each course requires a different amount of ammo to engage all the targets twice.  150 rounds of ammo for the carbine is a good amount to pack, but you aren't going to use that much each round.  I wouldn't carry more than 50 rounds of handgun ammo for the course, and a 100 for the rifle.  When it comes to the team on team shooting, I'd bring 250 rounds for handgun.  Normally you won't use that much, but there might be a shoot off situation and having extra is better than not having enough.  Each year they publish a more precise round count before registration begins, as a rule 200 pistol, 300 carbine and 300 rifle seems to be  normal, but more bullets can be more better. 

As long as you want to carry it, all equipment is legal, any scope, spotting scope, bipod, tripod etc is fair game.  Everyone uses a laser range finder, even the legendary Darrell Holland.  If you don't know Darrell, he is the worlds foremost guru on optical range finding.  He's quite the guy when it comes to range estimation.  You'd have to see it to believe it, but he is amazing.  Even he "cheats" and uses a rangefinder.

The entry fee is $300 per person.  If that seems steep that's because you haven't seen the prize table.  The cheap scopes on the table were $800.  They also had some nice Night Force and similar products.  There were a few thousand dollars worth of handguns.  I have no idea how many thousands of dollars worth of ammo or component prizes were up for grabs.  I don't remember what all was available but here are some companies involved: Burris, Berger, Leopold, Night Force, Steiner, Glock, Sierra just name the ones I can think of right now.  There was a ton of grab bag stuff too.  Over half of the entry fees comes back as cash prizes and any overage in fees collected is donated to the Wounded Warriors Fund.  This year they had all the event tee shirts donated, rather than take them as freebies, the guys pitched in $10 a piece and donated the cash to the Wounded Warriors Fund. 

Accommodations for the shoot can be had on the grounds if you want to camp out in your RV or tent, or Frank has a couple of rooms in his bed and breakfast that you can rent on a first come first serve basis.  The closest hotels are about an hour and a half away.  Food can be purchased on the grounds or bring your own.  Alcohol is not allowed during the shoot.  You can have a beer afterwards if you want, but its BYOB.  The ranch is state licensed for a commercial kitchen and hotel but doesn't have a state liquor license.

The shoot is open to anyone who wants to participate.  I've not seen anyone under 18 give it a try.  I'm guessing the oldest team was in their late 60's.  Last year two boys decided that as part of their home schooling curriculum that they would research, build and equip long range shooting rigs.  As far as I know, their families were not "gun" people.  So these two young men earned their own money, designed and built their equipment, taught themselves about ballistics, reloading and (to a lessor degree) shooting.  Being under 21 they could not buy or in their state posses handguns so about 2 weeks before the shoot they got their dads to buy pistols.  They came out and did their best.  Which was pretty good.  They finished in the top part of the lower 50%.  Considering that my coaching session with them (after the shoot) was the first handgun training they had, they did very well.

The normal mix of teams incudes professional shooters, LEO, MIL and sometimes an Operator or two, as well as a good amount of guys retired from those categories, hobbyists, industry reps and when they can work up the courage an internet sniper or two. 

To place in the top third it takes consistent shooting.  50% of the shots are what I would consider "normal" shooting in terms of range and difficulty.  Maybe 20 to 25% of the shots are in the difficult category, with the rest being somewhat between the two.  The second factor to place well is team work.  The spotter/shooter dynamic and communication aids in making first round hits, follow ups and corrections. 

Over the years I've seen a couple of things that hamper most teams, the first is an unwillingness to give up on a missed target.  Guys get convinced that they can hit something and they won't stop trying.  At minus 10 points a miss they won't quit shooting.  The rules require you to try twice, if you miss twice, that's -20 on the score.  If you miss 8 that's -80 points.  This year the most common thing I saw hurting scores was the inability to hit squat with a handgun.  I had good teams that I've RO'd for years display pathetic handgun shooting.  There might only be 24 pistol targets on a course, but a minus 240 on a course of fire worth 2,400 is a 10% drop in overall score, if you hit 100% of the carbine and rifle targets.

Some guys get intimidated when they hear that "professionals" are shooting.  I wouldn't.  If you think a SEAL team or a couple of guys from an unnamed special group are going to automatically win, you'd be wrong.  LEO's ain't what they should be.  There are several hobbyists that routinely out shoot cops.  Also professionals have gear failures all the time.  They may even have more equipment failures than a hobbyist due to the hard use their equipment gets.  I've seen good shooters lose because a barrel decided to go out half way through the shoot.  It is true there are a handful of USMC, Rangers, etc that come out.  Most of them are retired and just having some fun.  When the last time your opponent saw action was Vietnam, there is a chance that your eyesight may be a tad better than his.  

Like most things in life, WTRC is a competition against yourself.  Can you spot, call wind, adjust, shoot consistently and work with your team mate?  If you can, you stand a pretty good chance at finishing well.  Can you own a mistake and not overly commit to a target that you've missed twice?  Then you will keep from sabotaging your own performance.

Give it a try.  Shooting is fun and shooting against others provides a little pressure to preform.  Oh and there is normally a couple of girl teams.  Personally I think it would be more embarrassing to lose to them than to a couple of old RECON guys.



It's late Thursday night.  I just got in from work.  In a couple of hours I'll be packing up to head up north to work the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship, formerly known as the International Tactical Rifle Championship.   Technically that Wyoming part of the name is a bit of a misnomer too, part of the match is shot in Montana.

Late to bed early to rise, watch guys shoot all day and make up lies.

Well the make up lies part will be harder, since I'm going to be one of the score keeps for this match.

It's too late to join us this year, unless you can make the ranch in 6 hours.  I think it'd be a hoot if the Ilk could manage to field a team or two for next year.


Reactionary Religion

For sometime now I've been toying with an idea that I've being thinking of as "Reactionary Religion".  The premise behind this idea is that mankind's thinking on religious topics is frequently formed in reaction to some other religious idea.  The term "reactionary" as I am using it, refers to the reaction of a person to an existing religious idea.  This is different than the traditional use of "Reactionary Religion", which generally held to be; "a person who holds viewpoints that favor a return to a previous religious position".

For my purposes, "reactionary religion" is defined as; " a concept that accepts the supposition that religious thought, doctrine and belief is influenced by previously examined religious positions".  This definition can be both in a universal sense and in  an individual sense.  For example, a person may be an adherent to a traditional 5 point Calvinist faith.  By definition however, Calvinism is reactionary to the Roman Catholic and various protestant faiths of its day. In our example of the Calvinist, he may never have heard of the Roman Catholic church, or any other denomination.  He may have only been exposed to the teachings of his one local church and may not even know that other ways of thinking exist.  None the less, his particular set of beliefs would be reactionary even though he has never been exposed to the ideas that helped form them.

I think that as a concept "reactionary religion" helps explain various trends that have developed in the religions of the world over time.  I'm beginning to believe that the concept can explain how we have arrived at the religious and philosophical positions that people hold today.  I'm not sure what practical application this has beyond my own intellectual curiosity.

I would be interested in getting input on:

  • The term "Reactionary Religion", might there be a better name for this idea?  Although I think its accurate, it almost has a confrontational ring to it.  I'm not sure I like it.
  • Is there a better way to express/talk about the idea than the definition I've used?
  • Is it accurate to view a person who accepts some but not all of a belief system as "reactionary"?  If it is, at what point does that individual's belief system change from being an adherent to a semi adherent?
  • Is it realistic to see "world view", "philosophy" and "religious position" as essentially the same thing?  In that case are all of mans intellectual positions "reactionary"?
As always any other thoughts you may have are appreciated.


I accomplished something this week.  I'm proud of it.

As you know I started back to the gym this year.  I had what seemed like a decent program planned out to lose weight and get in shape.  My main goal was weight loss with a secondary goal of strength and endurance training.

Things started out OK.  OI was going slow at first and getting back into things.  I managed to drop some weight and started toning up the flab.  Clothes started fitting better and I could feel muscle hardening under the fat. 

The plan was to do a series of exercises six days a week.  I had found a guide on the internet and was giving it a shot.  My personal goal with the plan was to build up to 3 sets of 10 reps at a minimum of 200 lbs of weight or better for most of the exercises. 

Of course I didn't start out at that.  I started out with whatever weight I could do 2 sets of 10 reps with.  Every other week I would add 10 to 20 lbs to the weight.  The plan was working pretty good and I was adding weight every other week

Then I plateaued.  Four and a half months into my program I was floundering.  Some of my muscle groups were doing fine, I was improving.  I just couldn't do any more weight with some exercises.  It's not like I was hitting a wall with a 400lb bench press.  I was topping out at way less than I remembered doing when I was 17 years old.   Even more depressingly I stopped losing weight.  I didn't gain any, I stopped losing weight with tons, well not literally tons I didn't let myself go that bad, left to lose.

That's how things went for the last 5 weeks or so.  I floundered around not accomplishing much with my program.  Then I sought out some advice from another old guy, a very buff and fit old guy at the gym.  He encouraged me to try a slightly different approach for 4 to 6 weeks to see if that would help me get back on track.  So I did.

Two weeks after making the change I finally got 200 lbs up on the bench press.  I know that for some of you that sounds just plain sad.  High school me would agree with you and mock me for ever getting so soft.  Old fart me will be very happy doing 3 sets of 10 reps at that weight once a week.

I'm not going to stray from the current plan though.  Until September I'm going to try to build up my strength, not worry if I add bulk and see what my new rep weights look like come fall.  Maybe I can hit 250 or 275 on the bench by then.

Some Pregnancies Last 13 Months


New Gun?

The American military establishment has decided that after almost 30 years of use that the 9mm Beretta isn't the best possible handgun for military personnel. I was around in 1985 and remember several people saying that exact same thing at the time.

In 1985 the 45 ACP in model 1911 was 74 years old.  It hadn't changed much in that time.  True there had been some improvements in manufacturing tolerances, stronger springs etc but basically it was the same gun that saw action in WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and other places.  It was the 80s.  We had to have something new and improved, like New Coke.

Now I've never shot a half starved 98 lb Japanese Imperial Army soldier who was charging me with  his families katana.  I hear its an exhilarating experience.  It would seem, and I would agree in theory that its probably best if the first shot stops the attack.  I also hear that this is why god himself invented the 45.   

In fairness I also understand that having the same ammo as your allies makes it easier to resupply troops on the battle field.  Given the option, I'd go along with the "more bullets is more better" line of thinking too.

That would put my opinion someplace between the two camps.  I've owned two 9mm handguns.  They have their place.  I'm not sure that place is on the battle field.  That said, I'm sure the US military can be counted on to make as much of mess out of finding a replacement for the Beretta as humanly possible.

I think this nails it on the head.
Fresh off a failed attempt to find a new primary service rifle, the Army is set to help the Air Force replace the sidearm the U.S. military has used for three decades.
Why in the name of all that's holy are we letting the Air Force pick out handguns?  Sure I trust the Air Force to know something about fighter jets, Area 51 and the Stargate Program, but hand guns?  Come on now.  The reason the troops don't like the 9mm is knock down power, or more accurately a lack there of.  What's going to happen when the Air Force tries to find people to test the new gun? 
I'll tell you what's going to happen.  Somebody, probably a general in charge of diversity and inclusiveness, is going to break a nail.  That's going to lead to focus groups and a committee that will decide that guns are bad and that if we have to have some, they should be powder blue to match the uniforms.  The Navy will retaliate and issue a directive requiring all of theirs to be soft pink.
This won't have as much impact on the Army as you might think.  If you're driving around in an M1 tank, you tend not to be as focused on handguns.  In that case your secondary weapon is a 50 BMG and well, that beats the crap out of a 45.
I've got a couple of ideas.  One, let the troops carry whatever personally owned and supplied handgun they want.  Two, under no circumstances allow Air Force, Army or Navy brass to pick out any new handguns, unless they do so under idea number one.
I suspect that no one will listen to any of these ideas.  Which leads me to the conclusion that our boys will end up with either, brand new but slightly better designed 9mm or we'll see the 40 S&W on the battlefield.



Kids want to learn.  Even at a bad American public school, there will still be some kids who manage to learn and develop educationally.  How bad are the schools in England?

It was a daring bid for freedom that could have come straight out of The Great Escape or The Colditz Story.
But the intrepid five who attempted to tunnel under a spike-topped 12ft metal fence using nothing more than pilfered cutlery were not plucky PoWs fleeing the Nazis – but Nottingham schoolboys trying to break out of their city academy.
If any of the youngsters tasted liberty, however, it was short- lived as the culprits were soon rounded up, and the already imposing security measures tightened up even further to thwart future escape efforts.

I ceased being a fan of public school in a little hell hole, known by some as third grade.  It was so bad that I would have run away if it hadn't been for the beating my father would have given me for skipping school.  So I'm sympathetic to wanting to get out of school.

How bad is it that you have to tunnel out?

Tracey Phillipson, whose daughter is a Year 9 pupil, said: ‘The fencing with security signs all over it does make it look a bit more like a prison than a school and I guess to some pupils that’s a challenge.'
Um, yeah it does look like a prison or at least a half way house.

Housewife Jamila Khaliq, whose home backs onto the school playing fields, said of the escape bid: ‘I can’t believe they would even try such a thing. Since they put in the new fencing, we have all thought it was impossible for any pupil to get out.
It's a school lady, not Alcatraz.  Security fences and roaming patrols to keep kids in?  In a saner time parents wanted their kids to stay out of places with guards.

I expect sometime in the next six weeks the Obama administration will add a provision to the Common Core requiring American schools to build fences and guard towers around campus.  Too bad he can't be bothered to do the same thing on our southern boarder.

Get A Trade

I picked up my cell phone this morning and found I had a job offer waiting for me in my voice mail.  I hadn't put in for it.  I didn't even know they were looking for help. 

The job isn't based on my staggering good looks.  It's not based on my expensive private school education.  It's not based on my eclectic professional experiences.  It's based solely on my trade, and a little bit on past performance in another job.

I worked my way through high school and college.   Before I was 16, I worked at a golf course as a caddy.  One day the Country Club was getting ready for a big dinner event in the ballroom.  They were short handed and needed extra help.  I volunteered for the job along with another guy.  I was paid more money than I would have made hauling bags around in the summer sun and I was hooked.  I did a good job and they kept requesting me from the caddy shack when they were shorthanded.  Because the other boy was 16, they assumed I was too.  That gig lasted right up until they were going to put me on the payroll and discovered they were employing me illegally.  We won't get into allegations about a certain 14 year old youth being a cocktail waiter at a FOP banquet.

When I became of legal age to work, at least part time, I started "cooking" at a fast food joint.  Notice "cooking" is in quotes.  Mr. Burger, meet Mr. Grill, Mr. Fry's meet Mr. hot blend of animal fat and vegetable oil, is not cooking.  I was good at it and probably more importantly, I was fast.  I was also eager to work as many hours as I could and I liked closing the place.  Eventually they made me an assistant manager.

That served me well for the first couple of years in college.  I could bounce between a job at school and a job at home.  The pay was decent, at least it kept me in cars, gas and girls.  It made a significant contribution towards books and tuition too.  Three years running I took vacations in Europe and Central America.  Mom and dad felt obligated to keep a roof over my head, everything else at that point was on my own dime.

Then it happened.  I got a job with the college as a cook.  That was when I learned a basic irrefutable fact about my employment choice for the previous 4 or so years.  People look down on you if you work in food service.

I hated being looked down on.  I set my eyes on a respected, and I thought at the time, well paid profession.  Then I went back to work, back of the house, front of the house, behind the bar, it didn't matter to me, I was good at it and I was going to finish school so I could get a real job and be respectable.

Which is what I did.  Then life happened.  I was perusing my dream and hit a wall.  Not a problem, except kids, and wife and well... Well I put on my whites and sharpened my knives.  Jobs doing professional stuff aren't as easy to get as jobs doing just stuff. 

Because I did that over 5 years ago, and then only for a short time, someone called me this morning to offer me a position, probably as a sous chief or assistant FSD.  Which might be better than the dead end customer service gig I've been doing the last four years, because, health insurance.

Which brings me back to the title of my post: Get A Trade.  I'm not anti college or university education.  Like I mentioned earlier, "Jobs doing professional stuff aren't as easy to get as jobs doing just stuff.".  If I could offer one bit of employment advice to kids graduating high school it's, get a trade first.  Then you can stash a little cash before you go to school or work at it while you are in college.

Maybe one day in the future you will be down on your luck and you'll need something to fall back on.  Sure people look down on mechanics, machinists, linemen, roustabouts, welders etc.  You know what they do when the car breaks?  They fork over $90 or more an hour in labor charges for the guy at Midas to fix it for them.  The guy that owns the company that pumps out my septic system is a millionaire.  Not a bad ROI for the cost of a CDL and a willingness to do a job that other people look down on.

Trade first.

College second.

Use a small investment of your time and talents to pursue a larger goal. 




As a bagpiper, I play many gigs.

Recently, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service of a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived, but an hour late. I saw the funeral guy had evidently left, and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. Not knowing what else to do, I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around.

I poured my heart and soul into the tribute for this man with no family or friends, and I played like I’d never played before!

As I started played “Amazing Grace,” the workers began to weep. We all wept together.

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Although my head was hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothing like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”


Of Straw and Men

It's no surprise to my regulars that I'm a fan of All in the Family.  I think the collage as a blog header gives it away.  Archie Bunker is and was Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's idealized conservative straw man. 

I say "idealized" because they created a character that embodied every single negative trait that they could portray in a person.  Michael on the other hand is the embodiment of liberal insight, wisdom and hope.  Incidentally in real life Carroll O'Conner  (Archie) was a liberal whose political beliefs were more in line with Michael.

Archie was a straw man.  Lear used Archie as a way of down playing the significance of World War II and the contributions of the generation that went through it.  Archie was always reminding everyone that he was a "veteran of the BIG ONE".  Archie's actual military accomplishments are undistinguished, except for earning a purple heart for getting hit in the butt with shrapnel.  Archie was a bigot.  Archie wasn't very smart and often mispronounced words.  Archie was "religious" but didn't go to church, or let his faith interfere with his prejudice.  Archie believed in stuff but his beliefs were ignorant.  Archie was a straw man.

Norman Lear used that straw man to knock down traditional American values.  Pastors and preachers all across America helped him do just that.  "You don't want to be an Archie" was a theme used in sermons.  The joke was often on Archie, or Archie was simply the joke. 

In the end, All in the Family was truly ground breaking television. It introduced cursing on broadcast TV.  Nothing was done about it, because the show was so popular.  It ran down traditional America in a way that people saw as light and funny.  It changed the perception of an entire generation and caused them to look with skepticism and judgment on their parents and grandparents.

My friend Outlaw X posted an example of how Lear used his straw man to pontificate the liberal point of view.  Check it out.

The show went off the air in 1979 after a long and popular run.  It's been 35 years since the end of the show, and despite knocking down the straw man, we now know that Archie was right!