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Thoughts on the Day

  • Trying to arrange a flight out of Louisville for the day after the Kentucky Derby isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
  • I’m going to Las Vegas for a conference.  I understand it’s a quiet, sleepy town in the Nevada desert, with not much to do after hours.
  • Irish Woman says that someone ought to come out with Garanimals for grown men.  It would make the world a better place.
    • She thinks Banana Republic might fit that bill, but I prefer to pick out my own clothes, thank you very much.
    • Apparently it gets under her skin that 99% of my wardrobe is made up of things that are brown, black, khaki, green and gray.
    • Green goes with green, no matter the shade, dammit!
  • I’ve decided that two people in my life are just not worth the effort it takes to argue with anymore.  I’m tired of trying to make intellectual sow’s ears into silk purses.
  • Short story development – write a little, erase a little, write a little, reorder a little, think think think think think.
  • I never realized how horrible the local radio stations are until the new truck came with an AM/FM radio, and that’s it.
    • The new stereo went in today.  No more will I have to listen to nothing but Aerosmith, Katy Perry, and Lyle Lovett.

Movie Quotes – Day 113

Chief O’Hallorhan: We’ll go down by rope. We’re gonna rappel down to 65, get on top of that elevator, use it as an exit.
Young Fireman: I can’t make it. I’ll fall. I know I’ll fall.
Chief O’Hallorhan: Okay. Then you better go first. That way when you fall, you won’t take any of us with you.

The Towering Inferno

There are really two ways to fail:  lack of ability and failure to try.

If someone lacks the ability to do a task, it can usually be corrected through coaching, and practice.  “I can’t” normally equates to “I can’t, yet.”  This may even be a case where someone cannot imagine doing something, so they assume that they aren’t able to do it.  When pressed either by gentle coaching or harsh reality, these people always seem shocked when they realize the extent of their capabilities.  That’s probably where the “New Shooter Grin” comes from.  True, there are limits to what anyone can do, no matter how much they learn and train, but those limits are usually beyond where they will normally have to perform, be it on a playing field, in a job, or in a classroom.  Their limits are usually far beyond what they themselves thought they were.

The second way to fail, failure to try, is infuriating to me.  In this case “I can’t” means “I don’t want to.”  I’m not talking about the occasional urge to sleep in or go fishing on a nice day.  I’m talking about the lifelong habit of letting others carry the weight, or at most, doing the minimum to get by.

These people usually need a psychological slap to get them moving, and telling them exactly how they will fit into a larger plan will sometimes do that.  That goes double when you explain how their self-confessed inability is going to delegate them to something unpleasant.   It’s amazing how quickly someone grows an ability when lack of it makes their lives harder.  “I can’t” becomes “I’ll try”, which in turn becomes “This sucks.  What do I have to do to get a better life?”

Of course, there will always be those who find a way to live with being on the bottom rung, but then again, the world needs tackling dummies and impact pads too.

Blogs Roundup

  • LawDog shows why amateur pharmaceutical chemists probably shouldn’t be trusted with cleaning supplies.
  • Heroditus Huxley hits the nail on the head.  My guns are better for me, but that doesn’t mean that they’re better than yours.
  • Auntie J brings the feels, yet again.  This reminds me of the evening where Little Bear, Girlie Bear, and Irish Woman spent hours deciding what she should be called after our wedding.  They settled on “Second Hand Mom”.
  • LabRat reminds me why I don’t watch much television anymore.  Unfortunately, the trashy commercials aren’t confined to the wee hours of the morning anymore.
  • Kenn Blanchard has put out a long list of great gun writers.  Somehow, I got on there.  Must be a typo.
  • Barron shows the struggles of trying to replace a defective electronic safe lock.  Stories like this are why I shy away from depending on much of anything with a hard-to-replace, easy-to-forget battery.
  • AD has some good suggestions on how to make sure that you can be found when you need help.  Sending someone down to the street to wave in the ambulance probably isn’t a bad idea if it’s possible, too.
  • Captain Tightpants articulates something where I think a lot of us find it difficult to find words:  the best counselor is someone who has walked down similar paths.
  • Finally, I’d like to pass on my families condolences to Brigid and her family.  Her brother lost his fight with cancer on Good Friday, and she has eulogized him in her usual excellent fashion.  We have been keeping all of them in our thoughts and prayers. If you’re of the praying sort, could you throw in a word for them too?








Movie Quotes – Day 112

Marshal William T. O’Neil: How deep are you in?
Security Sergeant Montone: Not too deep… I’m paid to look the other way.
Marshal William T. O’Neil: I get it. You don’t do anything bad, you just don’t do anything good, right? 


It’s time to pick sides.  It’s time to decide with whom you will stand when the votes are counted.  It’s time to force the same kind of commitment on the part of our political candidates.

Primaries for the election this fall are starting.  Will you side with the status quo, or will you help us go another way?  Even if you’re fed up with both major parties, you need to find candidates you can support.

I’m becoming a single issue voter.   My issue is this:  Do you trust the average American to be responsible for his or her own life?  It could be how you look at drug policy, or free speech, or abortion, or gun rights, or whatever, but if you’re not ready to loosen the grip of the government around our necks, then you don’t get my vote.

We all need to figure out what’s important to us and then vote for the people who share those values.  We’ve been compromising long enough.  We’ve gone too long electing and re-electing people who just want to profit from the public trough.  It’s time to put people with steel in their spines and fire in their eyes into office.

Thoughts on the Day

  • I spent my morning watching other people work with a fork lift.
    • It wasn’t as exhilarating as it sounds.
  • Irish Woman used her lunch break today to spread 800 pounds of top soil around most of our back yard and put grass seed into it.
    • She also laid a four-layer plastic ground cloth between a set of raised beds and the new picket fence.
    • Let it never be said that my wife doesn’t work her butt off when she’s got a goal.
  • I have decided that if I cannot properly sharpen a blade using a stone and some oil, then I do not wish to own that blade.
    • Life’s too short to go on a quest for space-age sharpening solutions every time I buy a new knife.
    • For the record, there are only a couple of things I own that don’t work with the stone.
  • There are worse ways to end the day than by watching a Star Wars cartoon while you make a triple batch of banana bread and do laundry.

Book Review – The Grey Man – Vignettes

Many of you have been reading Jim Curtis’s writing for years at his site, Nobody Asked Me.  To my surprise, he asked me to beta read his first novel, The Grey Man – Vignettes, last year, and I, of course, said “YES!”.  (Full Disclosure – OldNFO flew with a member of my family back in the good old days, and he’s been a good friend and guiding hand for me as a writer and shooter for several years.)

Vignettes tells the story of John Cronin, a Special Forces veteran, deputy sheriff, investigator, and overall badass.  He is joined by his granddaughter, Jesse, as well as a former Mexican Federale and his wife, two Marines who luck into being a part of their lives, and assorted Texas and federal law enforcement people.  It’s a good first book from Curtis, and while it’s not a thriller by any means, it’s a page turner that’s worth reading twice to pick up the things you might have missed the first time.  I enjoyed reading the book, even the first time when it was very rough, and I felt comfortable letting Girlie Bear read it.  It’s adult enough that it caught and kept my attention, but not so adult that a teenage boy or girl shouldn’t read it.

Vignettes breaks down into three main parts – a sniper competition, a shooting and criminal investigation/persecution, and an overseas mission for Cronin.  Holding all of these parts together are several chapters that expand the story to show the everyday life of Cronin and his family.  Curtis is an accomplished story-teller, and all of these plots and sub-plots knit together very well.  The story includes romance without becoming mushy or steamy, action without becoming bloody, and tension without becoming a soap opera.

Mr. Curtis does an excellent job of developing the characters of Cronin and the other main members of the story.  Cronin is the man you meet at the hardware store or restaurant who shows impeccable manners, seems absolutely normal, and then you see flashes of him being much more than he appears.  Jesse, his granddaughter, reminds me of the good country girls I knew growing up and while stationed in Texas.  Matt and Aaron, the Marines, remind me a heck of a lot of the men that I worked with in the military.  None of these characters are straight out of central casting, and none of them are cardboard cutouts of the crusty old deputy, the country hellion, and the generic military man.  In other words, Curtis has created characters that live and breathe.  These characters will remind you of real people because that’s how they were written.

That’s not to say that the book is perfect.  The author’s politics shine through in spots, and occasionally it’s laid on a bit thick.  It’s not so heavy that it detracts from the story, but it is noticeable.  While his main protagonists are three-dimensional and fully developed, his antagonists tend to be a bit one-dimensional.  This is mostly due to the fact that there is no main bad guy throughout the stories in the book, so there is less space to develop them as a character.  I expect that if the next book is more of one big story arc, the bad guys will be better developed.

That being said, The Grey Man – Vignettes is an excellent story and read.  Mr. Curtis is writing about what he knows and loves, and it shows.  I give this one 4.5 stars out of 5, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good, old-fashioned novel.


Update – OldNFO has put up a passage from the sequel, as well as a map of the Cornin ranch.  I’m pawing at the ground to get my hands on the new book.

Movie Quotes – Day 111

I took a course in art last winter. I learnt the difference between a fine oil painting, and a mechanical thing, like a photograph. The photograph shows only the reality. The painting shows not only the reality, but the dream behind it. It’s our dreams, doctor, that carry us on. They separate us from the beasts. I wouldn’t want to go on living if I thought it was all just eating, and sleeping, and taking my clothes off, I mean putting them on… — Harvey

Americans, at least, seem fascinated in knowing what the world of the prophets looked like.  We spend hours reading and watching material about how Jesus grew up.  It seems that every week there is a new scroll or tablet or tomb that is found that gives us a little more insight into the world of the Bible. There are advertisements for trips to the Holy Land that regularly show up in my email and websites.  “Walk in the footsteps of Jesus!”  “See what Moses saw!”.  A lot of people want to be baptized in the River Jordan or say a prayer at the Wailing Wall.  It seems that we think that by learning about the ancient world and experiencing it ourselves, we will know more about our faith.

I think that such things are interesting, but they miss the point.

Faith does not require evidence, or at least not the kind of evidence you dig up out of a hillside in Israel.  Archeologists could dig up a Roman record that read “On the third day of Venus, in the month of April, on the orders of Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, a Jewish preacher and carpenter from Galilee, going by the name of Jesus, was crucified in Jerusalem for the crimes of treason and blasphemy.”, and it wouldn’t change my beliefs at all.

My faith is the faith that I gained through reading the Scripture, through talking about it with elders and friends, and through what I have seen and done in life.  Relics and ancient buildings are nothing more than curiosities for me.  They don’t hurt, but neither do they help.  I don’t need anything concrete upon which to base something that is anything but concrete.

As we celebrate the rebirth of Jesus Christ today, we must remember that the important thing is not the rock that was rolled away from his tomb, rather it is the act of its being moved.  The hill on which he died and the tomb in which he lay are nothing but places.  The shroud he wore is nothing but linen.  The reason he died and the reason he rose again is what we need to concentrate on.

Movie Quotes – Day 110

After all, the wool from the black sheep is just as warm. — The Sound of Music

This weekend, Christians are celebrating Easter.  This is the season where we remember that God walks among us, and that no matter how sinful we become, we can always be redeemed.  Christ did not come only for those who already believed.  He also came for those whose hearts are as black as night.  He also came for those whose hearts are torn with grief and anger.  He came for all of us.

I think this is one of the places where the modern church fails on a regular basis.  At several times in my life, I have known people who were basically shunned from their communities of faith.  One was a young woman who became pregnant out of wedlock.  Another was a man who got in trouble with the law.  Several have been entire families that have, for one reason or another, split up.  In these cases, their church families turned their backs on them, viewing their situations as too outside the tenets of the faith to allow them to remain.  In most cases, this was done with the approval of the minister, if not their active participation.

I’m as guilty of this as the next guy.  A lot of the things I write about here include the phrase “get a rope” and other condemnations of others’ bad acts.  I forget the teachings of the Gospel when I do so, and I need to do better.  To do anything less is a repudiation of Christ’s message of love and forgiveness.  Yes, the sinner needs to acknowledge their guilt and make amends, but the church should be there to help them find their way back into the fold.  Once that is accomplished, the sin should be forgiven and forgotten.

The homeless drunk has as much place in the church as the living saint in her Easter bonnet.  The murderer in prison deserves forgiveness as much as I do for my transgressions.  We have to remember that Christ comes to us as a shepherd in search of lost sheep, and it doesn’t matter to him what color the lamb is.  It shouldn’t matter to any of us, either.

Thoughts on the Day

  • Is it a bad thing to wake up tired and go downhill from there all day?
  • An alpaca, which is unhappy about being given a haircut, makes a sound not unlike a wounded rabbit, only louder.
  • We made sure to pat Boo down for contraband mammals as we left the farm this morning.
  • There are few things less patient than a group of six year old children waiting for an Easter egg hunt to begin.
  • If you witness a child in an Easter egg hunt fall and spill his eggs, yelling at your own child to “Get those eggs!” will mark you as a jerk and deserving of derision.
  • If, on the other hand, you realize that a young child is leaving an Easter egg hunt empty-handed and go behind the scenes to bring out a dozen more eggs for him, then you get marked as a good person.
  • Girlie Bear was assigned the task to watch a World War II documentary or movie as homework.
    • Her teacher included “Inglourious Basterds” in the list of suggested titles.  I had to explain to Girlie Bear that it was not acceptable for her to watch and why.
    • She settled on Ken Burns’ “The War“.
  • Maybe waiting until the day before Easter to buy supplies for Easter baskets was a misstep on my part.

Movie Quotes – Day 109

Mary Ellison: You must be mad.
Major John Smith: If I wasn’t, what would I be doing in this job?

Where Eagles Dare

It’s a rare and lucky person who has the perfect job.  I’ve been that guy for short stretches of my life, when I had to marvel at the fact that someone was paying me to do something.  Most of the time, I haven’t been that fortunate.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a good job, and I work with a great group of people.  I just wouldn’t do it for free, and it makes me crazy on occasion.

I guess the trick is to find that one or two facets of your job that interest you, and try to emphasize those as much as you can in your day.  If I can’t find those, or if they come around too rarely, I start looking for another job.  Life’s too short to let the day job take away the pleasure of the other half of your life.


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