Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Off hunting.

We'll see how this goes.
(Given that I'll be with one of my favorite people, it is bound to go well.)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The things we do.

My wife and I shop for food. We shop for clothes. We prepare meals for ourselves and for the family. We help prepare lunches for the kids. We clean up after meals. We oversee our children's cleanup of the house. We direct our children in matters of hygiene. We tutor our kids in schoolwork. We take our kids to school. We do home maintenance. We go to our jobs for our paychecks. We pay our home bills. We obtain and distribute cell phones to the family. We buy and distribute gifts. We put together family get-togethers. We put together vacations. We visit the doctor. We take our kids to the dentist. We attend recitals and concerts and competitions and meets and matches and contests. We attend to sick kids. We fight (verbally). We laugh. We discuss. We watch shows together. We garden. We sleep together (in snoring repose). We tend to animals. We eat together. We deal with the everyday problems and surprises and expected drudgery of life, when living with another person.

I'm missing something.

Oh, yeah. We also occasionally have sex, as married people will do.

If the amount of time that we spent on this last thing were even one half of 1% of our time together, I think that we would be a very unusual married couple, after 15 years of marriage. I certainly could not characterize that as being an identifier of the state of wedlock.

If it's teh ghey seks that makes opponents afraid of gay marriage, then I submit that they have a seriously skewed view of what a marriage actually is.

I'm not much of a joiner. But maybe there are things worth standing shoulder to shoulder about, regardless of whether you're concerned about being regarded as just doing what the others are doing.
If you hadn't realized that I believe in equal rights for all, then you haven't been paying much attention to me.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Pictures

The following two pencil sketches were done by my 10 year old daughter, to entertain her friend at school by putting moustaches on animals. The beret with the pencil moustache particularly cracked me up:
 I got a sample of a medication from the doc. It came in a 4" cube, which I opened to find the following:
On the wall at the doctor's office. I've never seen a "High Frequency Dessicator," before. I don't know what it does, even though I understand what dessication is.
This is 1.5 cubic yards of enriched soil, which I bought yesterday from the gettin' place, and put into my wife's raised beds. She's added a couple of beds this year, and also the ones from last year had settled a bit.
On Saturday, my wife suggested that we two spend 45 minutes clearing out some junk that had accumulated in the garage. 8 hours of sorting and cleaning later, we found that we had 5 well-stuffed, heavy Hefty Steel Sacks.

During the cleaning, I found this little dumplin', which I had gotten for my Honda Civic, years back. The Civic's A/C system will no longer take a compressor for less than the cost of the car, so I had promised this to my old patrol partner for his beater Honda, only to find that I couldn't find it for him. I was so excited to find this (I'd paid $130, 7 years ago for it), that I sent him a text.
I had my 10 year-old get up from whatever it was she was doing with the neighbor girl on the front porch, to do the dishes. They both sighed, as she laid down her pad to go do her chore. I looked at the pad, and saw that she'd just started a pretty decent life study on the neighbor kid. Seriously, based upon this if she had finished the facial features, I wouldn't have been able to post it here without the neighbor girl's parents' permission. I haven't seen the finished product.
Sadly, my camera phone doesn't have the light-gathering capability to take good night pictures, or you could appreciate the awesomeness of my 14 year old daughter's first-ever attempt at parallel parking. I credit good genes, and a decent driving instructor. (Yours truly.)
M19 Standing semi-supported (leaning back against my car) at 20 yards with .38 Specials (158g LRN), Single action. Shot from about 7:30 o'clock.

M19 fired off-hand double action at 25 yards. 158g factory Hydrashock .357 Magnums. (There are a couple of .22 holes in there, too.) Meh.
Coffee can with custom target made by daughter to shoot at with her new .22 WMRF rifle. (Depiction of "Kim KardASSian.")
Daughter's new custom .22 WMRF rifle.
Daughter during initial sight-in at ~20 (or just a bit less) yards.
50 yard sight-in.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Test your blood pressure:

I subscribe to Democrats Dot Com Unity. They send me entertaining email alerts. This last one read as follows:

Dear Activist,The irresponsible arms trade fuels serious human rights abuses, armed violence, poverty and conflict around the world.Next week, world leaders will gather at the U.N. to negotiate an international Arms Trade Treaty to establish global arms trade controls to keep weapons out of the hands of war criminals and human rights abusers.Tell President Obama: we need a strong Arms Trade Treaty now.Thanks for all you do!Bob Fertik
Friend –
Join us: fight for an arms treaty that puts human rights first!
Tell President Obama: We need a strong Arms Trade Treaty now >>
No one – not you, not me, not the millions of responsible gun owners here in the US and around the world – wants to see arms and ammunition fall into the hands of war criminals, terrorists or human rights abusers.
Yet, there are no binding international laws – not one – to regulate the global arms and ammunition trade, making it fairly easy for those dangerous actors to access conventional weapons and commit atrocities.
Such a large global problem requires a global solution: a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty to prevent the irresponsible global transfer of weapons without infringing on domestic rights to bear arms.
Take action: Ask President Obama to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty.
Later this month, world leaders will gather at the United Nations to negotiate the Arms Trade Treaty. Oxfam has been campaigning for a strong treaty for more than a decade, and our fight has never been more important than it is right now.
What's making our work even harder? The National Rifle Association and its allies are spreading lies and misconceptions about the Arms Trade Treaty – and, unfortunately, it's working. That's why we're setting the record straight, right here:
The Arms Trade Treaty will prevent international arms sales to known war criminals while protecting millions of people from human rights abuses. It will have no effect on the Second Amendment right of US citizens to bear arms – domestic rights fall outside the scope of the treaty.
A bulletproof arms trade treaty – and the safety it can bring to families around the world – is a vital part of the fight against poverty and injustice. President Obama needs to know that you support a robust arms trade treaty, and that's why we're asking you to speak up today.
Act now: Write to President Obama and ask him to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will save lives and make the world a safer place.
Poor regulation of global arms trade threatens the security and rights of millions of people, exposing them to death, rape, assault and displacement. For people working to lift themselves out of poverty in communities plagued by armed violence, easy access to conventional arms threatens both lives and livelihoods.
It's our job to speak up for those communities and to fight for a strong Arms Trade Treaty – so thank you for taking action and standing with us today.
Judy Beals
Oxfam America

The green links go to the following online petition: 

We need an international arms trade treaty NOWResponsible gun owners don't want weapons to end up in the hands of criminals. Responsible nations shouldn't either.The irresponsible arms trade fuels serious human rights abuses, armed violence, poverty and conflict around the world. In many areas of the world, armed conflict and poverty go hand-in-hand. For people working to lift themselves out of poverty and living in communities plagued by armed violence, the poor regulation of conventional weapons threatens both lives and livelihoods.From March 18 to 28, world leaders and their negotiating teams will gather at the United Nations to hammer out an international arms trade treaty. The proposed treaty would restrict arms sales to war criminals and human rights abusers, while at the same time not infringe the Second Amendment rights of US citizens.A bulletproof arms trade treaty – and the safety it can bring to families around the world – is a vital part of the fight against poverty and injustice. With it, we can help save lives, prevent human rights abuses and protect the livelihoods of people around the world.
President Obama needs to hear that you support a robust arms trade treaty – speak up today.Act now: Ask the President to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will save lives and make the world a safer place.

Because it always works so well when we put the ability to defend ourselves into the hands of other nations.

Just thought you might want to know what they're up to.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beautiful Spring Weekend.

--Friday, I took my elder daughter driving on a large parking lot with my manual transmission Honda Civic. She actually did pretty well.

--I went with friends for pizza and beer Friday night, but skipped the beer and had Reed's Ginger Ale. It's good. But that beer looked good. I've been without for awhile. Sometimes fasting from a favorite thing is good.

--My 10 year-old daughter had her best friend over for the weekend again. I don't think that her mom believes us when we say that she's welcome at our house anytime she wants to come. She's a great kid. She has two mommies.

--My wife this morning suggested taking 45 minutes to clear out some stuff from kitchen entry to the garage. It had gotten a little crowded. 8 hours and 4 Hefty SteelSacks full of garbage later, we had completely reorganized the garage.

--My elder daughter drove the "new" 3rd-hand riding lawnmower for the first time yesterday. I was so impressed at how she was missing any sticks and rocks, and realized that she had disengaged the blades. She went back over it, and it worked great. Best $150 I ever spent.

--I just got an invite to hunt wild hog with a good friend, and with my Dad. I can't wait. I REALLY want to see Dad bust a hog with that .45-70. Also? I've got a .35 Whelen Springfield that needs to draw blood.

--I owe you a Sunday Smith.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Frickin' ramfrazzin

--Blue Screen Of Death started to appear on the home computer yesterday. I've been doing battle with a trojan virus since.

--G****** ph***ing piece of s*** adopted ******g ****pipe of a furball regurgitator alleycat brought another wounded choad-pecking juvenile grackle into the house, which then spent five minutes caroming off of s*** in my house before I could finally connect with an umbrella handle, to send it flying into my desk, and then leak ichorous ******g black blood all over my tile that I had just mopped, up under the edge of the desk.

--A local church lady and I talked about how to help a sad sack in the neighborhood, recently. Between us, we figured out that we'd both been lied to. Those church ladies make your neighborhood run, even if you're not of their faith, or of any faith at all.

--Our weather continues to be spectacular. My elder daughter and I are about to go shooting, now that we've got some .22 WMRF. My wife didn't understand why I was saving a couple of 1 gallon cans. She keeps throwing them in the trash, and I keep fishing 'em out. Great reactive offhand 100 yard targets.

--Night before last, I just pulled out one of these from the deep-freeze, and popped that 5 lbs of homemade goodness into a 400 degree oven for about 75 minutes.  Considering that we'd made those when we had purchased a bulk tub of high end (very fine-grained) ricotta and better-than-average mozerella, along with very good quality pasta on which we had poured some homemade sauce, my excellence-to-effort ratio was very much in the black. Blew a Stouffer's all to hell, and I actually like Stouffer's frozen lasagna.

--I got a Sunday Smith that I need to put up. Maybe on Sunday.

--My 14 year old has been playing music for her band's upcoming concert, in which her section has a soli involving the main melody. So it is that I've been hearing the sweet recognizable strains of Phantom Of The Opera throughout the house. Honestly? It's pretty damned good. She's a first chair freshman, which means that my kid apparently can play.

--I need to write another grant tonight, for work.

--We're going back to the Northwest, this summer, but we're taking the girls with us, this time. I want to show the girls the Olympic National Park, with its 200 foot trees and Roosevelt elk and the Hoh Glacier. I want to show the kids the 720 degrees of green in the valley below Mount Hood, and the sight of our American Fuji, which is Mt. Ranier. I want them to pull tasty-yet-aggressive red crab out of pots off the piers in Port Angelas and Sequim. I have gotten to see this stuff, and want them to, as well. It's not my region, but it's one that I know something of, and want to show them. Heck, my kids don't remember ever flying.

--We just got a $430 AT&T bill. That needs looking into.

--I finally convinced my wife to try my Lazy Man laundry concept, which involves 4 laundry bins of exact same size in the bedroom. Now, as we shed clothes, we are sorting the load. When the bin gets enough for a load, we run it. So far, my little plan works great, with laundry getting done more often and less chance of finding evidence of someone having dug through the dirty laundry to put a load together. The downside, of course, is the extra footprint in the bedroom. I took the hit, and put them in front of my dresser. I'm that committed to this operation.

--My younger daughter tried to make chai tea this morning by pouring milk into the kettle, and heating it that way. We had a talk about that this afternoon, when I discovered the evidence.

--A 4 ounce whiskey glass ended up in the garbage disposal today. It was too wide to make it back up through the flanged rubber gussett thingy in the disposal mouth. It must have compressed the rubber ring to get down there. After over 20 minutes of trying, I finally gave up and busted the glass with a crowbar, and used the 5 HP shop vac to suck out the pieces. Basically a Dispose-All D.&E.

--Disposals aren't as scary to put your hand down, once you know how they work.

--The wide part of my hand won't fit into a disposal, but my fingers are long enough to reach the bottom.

--Santa gave my daughters each a box of .22 shorts in their stockings. Both boxes broke. I find .22 short ammo in the strangest places, in this house.

--My brother's car had a sensor and a vacuum leak in his 15 year old car, which kept it from passing inspection (yes, Texas has a state-mandated vehicle inspection law). I hooked him up with a local mechanic, and loaned him my car to drive while it got worked on. My brother hadn't driven a manual transmission in over 5 years. Think I wasn't worried about the health of my clutch plate? He brought the car back two days later, and a day after that sent me a picture of his new inspection sticker. That made me glad.

--I need to get my younger kid some glasses.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bring me this dog!

When we were at the tricked up Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rogers Freeway in Dallas on 1 March 2013, we saw this cute dog chasing random water squirts at the dog park portion of the park.

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Monday. First Day of Spring Break.

--I wrote this yesterday, and then got up to have dinner with the family before watching movies. I apparently never hit Publish. So consider yourself on Monday, 3/11/2013, when reading what follows:

--I slept in this morning. It was glorious. I was awaken late in the morning in that bestest of ways: my co-worker called me to tell me that he had some money for me from an off-duty gig that we had worked together recently. (Yeah, the definition of "best way to be awaken" seems to change, with age.)

--The sun is brilliant, and the wind has died down. A long-sleeved shirt or a sweat shirt still feels good. This is the best part of the spring.

--It's really green, out:
--The cattle and the verdant field make me think about this amazing talk given by an ecologist, about how to stop desertification, using more cattle.

--My elder daughter has been trying her hand at composing music for the French horn, this week. More impressively, she's writing duets. For a couple of days, I'd find pieces of paper like this lying around:
But she since has downloaded a composition program called MuseScore, which allows her to put it up much faster and neater, including multiple instruments. I haven't complimented the results, yet, because I've not heard anything that I much care for, yet. But I am impressed that she tries this stuff, and she's not even a week into it. I'm looking forward to hearing a piece that I'll love for its own merits.

--My 10-year-old daughter decided to bake blackberry muffins, this morning. I've had worse mornings than drinking coffee, listening to one daughter arrange a duet for herself and her friend, while my younger daughter pulls muffins out of the oven and serves them with hot butter, as the sun streams in the open doorway.

--We cleaned the house. When I pulled the rug out of the sun room to sweep and mop under it, I expressed with dismay that "we could just about grow tomatoes in here", while looking at the dirt on the tile where the run had been (for just a few weeks. Yeah. Should be pulled weekly. It's a big heavy rug, and a chore.). My younger daughter looked at me oddly, and pointed out that we are growing tomatoes in the sun room. We've got a flat of tomato puppies by the window.

--I have a big industrial strainer mop bucket. It's oddly comforting for me to use it and clean the tile throughout the house. When I used to work at an eatery 20 years ago, mopping was of course one of the many jobs around the place, and no one much cared for it. I never minded it. It was a necessary task, with immediate results. No one bothered you when you mopped. Now, on my big ceramic floors, I just try not to fall on my butt.

--Today's cleaning agent: Fabuloso Citrus Fruit. Now, with baking soda!

--My younger daughter employed a school project, this afternoon. She had made a solar oven out of a pizza box, some foil, and some black construction paper and plastic wrap. She put some wienies in it to heat up. Unfortunately, the Family Cat (Oliver, the fat one) was impressed at the hot meal of meat just laid out for him. He came in with his nice hot hot dog. My daughter went to spank him, but I stopped her. How could he be expected to do otherwise?

--A neighborhood border collie has been worrying my daughter's show rabbit in the hutch. It was bad enough when she was pacing back and forth in front of the hutch; now she has taken to chewing on the frame of hutch:
My younger daughter decided to deal with the matter by painting the lower frame member with a paste made with cayenne pepper. The bratty neighbor kid whose family owns the border collie protested that this would hurt her dog. When my younger daughter told me about this, I rolled my eyes, wondering what she would think of the fact that the last time I saw the dog doing her thing, I borrowed my kid's Red Ryder BB gun, and bounced a BB off the dog's butt. (Sadly, this bit of operant conditioning alone wasn't enough to convey to the dog what I'd hoped to convey.) But we don't mention that to the neighbors, because people aren't always rational about their pets. Put a cigarette out on their kids' faces, and it's no problem, but kick their biting dog away from you, and they lose their minds.

--Fresh Brussels sprouts with roast chicken and baked potatoes tonight. I used to only be able to get down Brussels sprouts by imagining them to be cabbages, and myself a giant. But now, I guess they're okay, with butter.

--Root beer floats for desert, which is funny, because I just wrote that I almost never buy sugar soft drinks, and then later today I bought a two litre bottle of root beer.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

"Arbitrary and Capricious."

I don't drink sugar soft drinks*. Oh, I love them, but I came to grips a long time ago with the fact that I have to watch my calorie intake, and that I'm a slob. That slob part references the fact that sugar drinks make everthing sticky, once they spill. I spill. I know this about myself, and I've taken the measure of avoiding sugary drinks. Also, there is the fact that two of my immediate family have adult-onset diabetes. While my sugar levels are good, I don't care to tempt fate. So, in addition to unsweetened coffee and tea, I will often enjoy a cold diet soda.

It has likely been 20 years or more since I had a Big Gulp full of sugary soft drink.

I tell you this to explain that it is not any kind of personal addiction to high-fructose corn syrup-laden beverages that makes me so very pleased with the ruling of Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of New York's State Supreme Court in Manhatten, when he recently struck down our largest city's ban on large sugared soft drinks.

In his ruling, Justice Tingling made clear that the ordinance was not only questionable in its justification, but in its jurisdiction, as well. The city of New York's Board Of Health was interpretting its own jurisdiction to be whatever it said it was. 
That interpretation, the judge wrote, “would leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination,” and “create an administrative Leviathan.”
The schadenfreude. It tastes sweet.

Are you listening, Feds?

*As a general rule, this is the case. About twice a year, I will indulge in a nice cold Coca-Cola, especially when in the company of friends, and when a dram or two of rum and perhaps a lime might be involved.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Oh, good. He's looking out for our hearing, now, too.

So I can assume, Mayor Bloomberg, that since you are concerned about the safety of our ears, we can now depend upon your support for legislation reforming current laws against suppressors?

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Unwanted email.

I'm sorry about the Captcha on the comments. I hate it, too. But with Comment Moderation on, evaluating the comments was turning into a daily part-time job. I had been throwing the email notifications of spam into a folder in my email, and just now deleted the contents of that box. I had to keep doing it, 200 emails at a time. I deleted over 1200 emails, from a very short period of uninterrupted bot-hosting. Each one of those, I opened, read, denied for my blog, and moved to a folder. Too much work. That's why I have the Turing test, to prove that you breathe and think on your own before you submit a comment. Sorry to make you work for it.

While I was in my email, I looked in the Spam folder for the first time in a LONG time. One was from an email with my own moniker in it, and I idly opened it. This is what popped up:
Good day my new friend!
I for the first time try such a way of dialogue, and I really don't know what to tell right now even though I understand that this first message have greater importance. My name is
Lubov. I look for the friend on the web. I liked your
form. And I decided to write to you. On the Internet I did not
communicate earlier. My friend told to me to communicate on the
Internet. Now I decided to find the friend. I Hope we will
communicate. Then communication can outgrow in that bigger))).
Thanks for time found by you! I am wait your answer!
My mail box l_[redacted]
Your new girlfriend Lubov.
I picture it being spoken in the voice of a female Latka Gravas.  Man, I should write her back, and let her down easy, and tell her that I'm married.

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

The cost of things.

I've told you that I'm not a rich guy. I'm not hurting for anything, really, but I'm on the lower end of the Middle Class spectrum. At a rough estimate, I've made around half a million dollars in my working life.

My parents would have been considered rather well-off, had either one of them been able to say the same thing at my age (the mid 1980s.).

I have never spent so much as $10,000 on a car, although most (not all) of the cars that I've owned did cost more than that, when new. Currently, all three of my vehicles barely would make that mark.

I have never owned a house that cost me over $100,000. My current house appraises at more than that, as did my last house that I sold for a tad under that. But I've never paid so much. When I was a kid, my parents bought a nice brick 2,000 square foot 3 BR 2 BA on an acre for $35,000. It appraises for $155,500 today, to different owners. (I note that it's had a 700'² addition put on.) 

So when I see a car that brings more than $35,000, it makes me think "that thing better have a bathroom and a pull-out bed in it somewhere, because that kind of money should buy a house." Of course this is silly talk, because that kind of money would by $133,000 worth of house, in today's dollars.

When I look at the Mercedes-Benz new G63 6X6 SUV, I think of that $457,000 price tag, and consider that it's almost equal to the number of dollars that I have been paid in my career in the workforce. Dude. It's just a truck.

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Random pictures from my phone.

Periodically, I remember that I have a Bluetooth interface on my desktop, and I download a bunch of pictures. Then I look at them on screen larger than an Airmail postage stamp (I've got the single cheapest phone that AT&T offers with a QWERTY keyboard), and wonder what in the world the context was. Sometimes it comes to me. Sometimes, I just have to let the mystery be.

These are easy. Yesterday, I helped a family member put up some gutters on his house. Given that we had no training, no instructions (None. Seriously-- the packaging came with not a whit of instructions on it.), and no experience between us, I think that we did pretty well. This will keep the rain off when walking out the back porch, anyway. I'm going to do this for my back porch, now.

This one's easy, too. For our anniversary, my wife and I went into Dallas, and dined at Mi Piaci, (where we toured the wine cellar. I had no idea that they had a wine cellar. If you've been there before, please know that the service has gotten a LOT less snooty, yet is still superb.) and stayed at a nice hotel, before wondering around Dallas the next day (Friday, 1 Mar 2013). We played at the bizarre Klyde Warren Park (which is situated over 9 lanes of Woodall Rogers Freeway), and walked into the Dallas Museum Of Art.

I saw the sheet metal fixture shown above (Sorry for the blurry picture. Low light, and crappy camera phone.) on the wall, which is clearly made up of air ducting. I went past, then stopped, and asked one of the dozens (scores?) of museum personnel in a blue blazer if that was a piece, or simply infrastructure. He assured me that it was a piece. I almost laughed, but stopped down for a second. In a moment of meta-artistic consideration, I thought about the few times that I have tried to cut and form sheet metal, and then get it to connect its seams tightly. It's actually more difficult than you might think. Yet it's true that every week, thousands and thousands of tradesmen (and women) do such work, leaving custom ducts and plenums (plena?) in attics and utility closets to perform their functions in the dark, gathering dust often without the appraisal of even the person who paid for them. I submit that such everyday achievements of craftsmanship might well attain the status of art, if we took time to appreciate what it took to achieve them. I took a closer look at the piece. The joints were handcut with snips, and screwed together with sheetmetal screws. I thought about that a day later, when I was customizing sheetmetal gutters with tinsnips and self-tapping sheetmetal screws.


 I.... I have no idea. I don't remember where I was exactly when I took this. I do recall that I thought that it wasn't really what you would expect a such a location.

At a local tire shop. Service (and education) are dead.

It's sad how much I enjoy the cheapest foods. Basmati, red beans, and some Thai chili paste. Mmmm-mmm!

 This is years' worth of bottle caps, saved for some unknown reason at first. Now my sculpture wife has an idea to put them onto a wooden fish, as scales. Might be kinda fun, in a kitsch sort of way.

 Another piece from Asian collection at the DMA.

 From a party for a good friend who joined the Texas DPS state troopers. His father in-law put up a trap and skeet shoot, in which we shot a game called "Wolf Pack." It was $5 a gun to shoot each round, with the winner getting half the pot, and the other half going to a charity. We raised over $200 for the charity, and had a lot of fun doing it.

 ALWAYS turn the light before using the restroom at night, in the volunteer fire department dormitory.
Panic-buying at Cabella's, January, 2013. Those are mostly some esoteric rounds left on the ammo shelf. No .38. No 9mm. No .45acp. No .22 LR.

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