Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bad dog Roscoe?

So, the other day a letter arrives from the company that puts out those dog-a-day desk calendars; the one that has a different dog for each day of the year and you tear off the page to reveal the next cute dog in line.  So anyway, the letter tells us that we are to be congratulated for having our dog Roscoe selected for the bad dog-a-day calendar for 2012!  Bad dog!  Not good dog Roscoe!  How did this happen?  The Missus was not about to take this lying down like a sleeping dog, no sir.  She called the company and spoke to an actual person who informed us that sometime, long, long ago when Roscoe was barely out of puppyhood the Missus sent a picture of him looking particularly cute to the dog a day calendar company.  Some many years later they apparently worked their way down through the pile of applicants and lit on this picture for their sister publication Bad Dogs.  The Missus thought the picture was cute and not bad and the lady of the phone agreed that the picture showed a cute dog but they needed a dog for sometime in 2012 and Roscoe is the one.   Oh well, as they say, no publicity is bad publicity as long as the name gets spelled correctly.  At least we will get a free calendar out of the deal.

And in the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished department:   When I am in the swimming pool and see a poor bee struggling in the water to save itself (I guess they come for a drink, get too close and...splush! in they go) I will give it a lifeline, get it onto the pool deck where it will dry its little wings and buzz off to get more nectar for the queen and fertilize some crops while it is at it.  After all, the bee population is declining and someone has to do something to save agriculture and mankind from starvation.  So there I was in the pool, literally minding my own business without a thought in my head when suddenly I was viciously and without warning stung by a honeybee!   The sucker got me on the shoulder and ended its life in the pool.  Older son was called on to get the stinger out of my injured flesh.  Stupid bee, didn't it know I am one of the good guys?

Finally: young son's Eagle project to construct 200 comfort packages for a Marine battalion in Afghanistan is underway.  Any family members who may read this and want to contribute to the project, now is the time!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Citizen Grouch Recommends....

A couple of movies that the Missus and I saw the other night that I thought were ok and you might also:

"The Adjustment Bureau"  with Matt Damon.  I thought it was a thoughtful movie about free will and unrequited love.  The Missus said it didn't do anything for her.  You decide.

"Hereafter"  again with Matt Damon!   I thought it was ok, well acted and all but didn't really go anywhere.  The Missus thought it was a pretty darn good movie.  You decide.

A book that I'm reading and really enjoying!

"Stealing Mona Lisa" by Carson Morton.  
A really charming and fun tale of con artists in the field of art forgeries in 1911!   I'm only about 4 chapters into it and am having a great time reading it.  I hate to say it but it reads like a fun movie and I'd love to see it made into a movie some day.  When the potential art forger is complemented on his ability to paint left-handed ala  da Vinci and is told that perhaps the reason he is so good is because he paints left handed, the forger replies:  "...the reason I'm so good," he switched the brush to his other hand, "is because I'm right-handed."   I laughed out loud when I read it and I could see the scene from the "Princess Bride" where the dread pirate Roberts and Indigo Montoya are sword fighting and have this exchange as Indigo fights hard against Roberts with his sword in his left hand.
"I admit it, you are better than I am." "Then why are you smiling?"  "Because I know something you don't know."  "And what is that?"  "I am not left handed!”

Ok, only "Princess Bride" fanatics will make the connection, but it tickled my fancy.   Check out "Stealing Mona Lisa"

A book I finished recently and also enjoyed but probably best appreciated by those who like aviation, adventure, history, or maybe historical military aviation fiction with an adventure theme.

The Delta by Marshall Harrison

A fictional account of a FAC (forward air controller) in Vietnam who spotted targets and controlled air strikes on the enemy from a high wing single engine spotter plane called a Bird Dog.  A great tale and based loosely on the real-life exploits of the author who spent time in Vietnam as a FAC.  Probably only to be found on Amazon or in a library as it has been out for a long time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lame parents

So the Missus and I were limping last week.  First I visited the foot doctor for some work to the right foot.  I got some injections into the tendons for my toes which left me limping and directions from the doc to limit my walking for several days.  Then the Missus got a lump carved out of her right leg - nothing serious, a cyst with fluid in it - but she too was told to limit her walking.  When youngest daughter heard of both of these issues she exclaimed that her 'parents are lame'.   What can you expect from someone with a degree in English?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Useful web pages

Here are some websites that are interesting or at least useful for killing time.

http://cleverbot.com/    For those lonely days when you are stuck at home with no one to talk to.

http://forums.gunboards.com/  If you are inclind to be interested in firearms check out this site.

http://www.minneapolisfed.org/index.cfm  So your dad only paid $50 for that curio back in 1955.  See how much that really cost him in today's money!  (The answer is $406 - so I hope it was something really nice!)

http://www.nationalreview.com/  For thinking, rational, right thinking people.   So you think you are a marksman (or woman)?   Give this a try.

http://mojaveroad.blogspot.com/   My favorite off road journey in California

http://iwl.me/  "I write like this"   It says I write like Steven King.  Unfortunately for Steven King, he writes like like H.P. Lovecraft.  Go figure.

http://www.tenbyten.org/10x10.html  "100 words and 100 pictures that define a time"  Check it out!

http://www.pricegen.com/localizesurname.htm  Map your surname research resources

Have fun!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

English Pantomime

English pantomime...wah?  Has the Grouch lost his mind completeley now?   So there I was flat on my back at 20,000ft...no wait a minute, that's what they said in WW2.

 Actually there I was flat on my back on the living room floor doing my exercises when for some reason I flashed back to a Christmas many years ago when the Missus and the young ones and I went to a theater to see a unique brand of live English theater called a pantomime.  This was a hilarious one man version of the Wizard of Oz that involved hand puppets, audience participation, songs, and some mild double entrende.  At the time I thought it was just a very funny show until several years later when listening to NPR radio they had a piece about English pantomime and I thought 'that's what we saw!' and promptly forgot all about it....until tonight.  The phrase pantomime popped into my head, I jumped up from the exercise floor (ok I rolled over, got slowly to my knees and stood up creaking like a windjammer in a storm), hobbled to the computer and typed in English pantomime and learned all about it again!   In case anyone else wants to be educated, here is a link to a Wikipedia entry about it

If you ever hear about a Christmas pantomime showing near you, don't hesitate, don't delay, get your ticket and go!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Being the rabbit

So today I got to enjoy one of the side benefits of my great (and I do mean great) job by being a passenger in a police cruiser during EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operator Course) training.  I was there to see first-hand the stress that the cruisers are put through during the one to two day training.  The maintenance shop was concerned that a set of tires was lasting one day during the training and I needed to see first hand why this was.  I attended the class room portion a couple of weeks ago and today I was at the driving area for the hands-on portion.  I was invited to do the course myself but being too chicken to make a fool by slinging cones in all directions I demurred but did accept a ride in the passenger seat in the 'rabbit' driven by an instructor. 

The rabbit is the car being pursued by the officer undergoing the training and is the culmination (read fun part) of the course.  Before we did the rabbit part, we did the drive backwards as fast as you can and turn 90 degrees part.  The idea on this is that an officer can escape a shooter by driving backwards and then turning into the first street he/she comes to.  We only (only!) got up to 45 mph going backwards before making the turn.  Believe me it was a strange feeling, almost like falling but never hitting the ground.  The instructor liked it so much we did it again!  This was for my benefit only since the officers being trained did it on their own.

Next we were the rabbit for the hound.   We took off through the cone pattern and randomly turned left, right, or straight, weaving through the simulated streets a high enough speed that I had to brace myself hard with my left foot on the firewall and my right knee against the door to stop from ending up in the driver's lap.  We did two sessions, each for about two minutes.  It was a blast but part way through the second session I realized that the old stomach maybe wasn't up to this much yanking and banking and this was going to be my last ride as the assistant rabbit.   It was a hoot to do and the instructor was nonchalant as we seemingly randomly dodged through the various choices in the cone pattern. 

When I got out of the car I saw that yes the tires would probably be worn out by the end of the day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Missus goes to the range!

So the Missus decided to go to the range with me on Friday which was a pleasant surprise.  The joke around the house with her and young son is what to do when the zombie apocalypse occurs.  The solution usually involves lots of shooting of zombies (hopefully no one we knew before they were zombified) and when I suggested to the Missus that she may want to do some shooting to be ready when the zombies show up at our house she said that she wanted to go with me to the range so off we went!

She declined to try the AR15 or Russki Saiga .223 that I brought to try some reloads that I developed but did a great job picking up the fired cases.  We didn't spend too much time at that part of the range and then headed to the members only private range for some private shooting.  The targets at this range are all steel plates mounted on stands and give a satisfying 'bingggg' when hit.

At this range she shot:

Rossi pump .22 magnum rifle.  This one was ok but a bit fiddly for her to remember the loading and pumping the action each time to chamber another round.  The Missus did ok and any zombies coming to consume her had about a 40% chance of closing to biting distance.

Marlin 795 .22 semi auto rifle.  She really shined with the Marlin!  No zombie stood a chance of getting anywhere close to her.  She took to the loading drill immediately and smacked the loaded magazine into the rifle with authority!   She was simply deadly with this piece.  When one of the magazines was giving us trouble she cautioned me not to get it mixed in with the good magazines so as not to have it fail when the zombies showed up.  Good advice!  (I fixed the magazine)

AR15 rifle with .22 kit.  Fun but too heavy.

Hi Standard Sentinel 9 shot .22 revolver.  This was a non-starter for her.  Double action was way too stiff and opening the cylinder was a 5 minute struggle each time.  This one is only for arm length distance.

Sig Sauer P6 9mm pistol.  Too much gun for the Missus.  The flinching was on the mega side of the scale.  Enough of that.

Ruger Mk2 target .22 pistol.  This is what she was waiting for.  She loved this pistol and was doing excellent work with it until the front sight blade flew off the pistol!  The pin that holds the blade in place broke and the blade flew off to follow the bullets.  Who ever heard of such a thing!   And just when she was enjoying herself too.   So much for that pistol for the day.

She finished up with three rounds out of the home defense Remington 870 riot shotgun.  First she practiced loading and working the action with dummy rounds and then two live rounds from the shoulder and one from the hip.  Not much fun at all for her!  At least she knows how to use it.

So, any zombies who may be even thinking of coming to Grouch acres for a snack better watch out for the Missus with her trusty semi auto .22s!  We had a great time (at least I had a great time - she had an ok time) and she rewarded herself with a maple twist donut on the way home.  

That's my girl!