Monday, July 28, 2008

Obamabomb

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the next Commander of Chief of the 57 United States of America!

video

Action Adventure Vacation 2008 Part V - Finale

On Friday, we woke up to see that the storm had passed, and it was a bright and sunny morning. We donned our swimsuits and headed south on I45 toward Galveston. The drive was a relatively easy one. Something I've noticed is how the driving populace reacts to weather changes. When a front or weather system is on its way, people act weird behind the wheel. At the cessation, with fair weather coming in, they tend to normalize and relax. This was one of those days. Crossing the water to the island was amazing.

I had another one of those moments where a childhood memory came to surface. It seemed that I had been here before, and I seem to recall visiting family friends in the Houston area years (possibly decades) ago, with a side trip to Galveston. I recall going to a hole-in-the-wall seafood joint where I had one of my first (if not my very first) experience eating calamari. It was not sliced rings like I've seen since, but rather tiny whole squids fried to perfection. I remember it creeping me out before I actually tasted it, and I have loved calamari since.

Driving through Galveston, Jenni and I enjoyed the architecture and the propensity of restaurants labeled "Doughnuts Kolaches Burritos". Seems like one heck of a combination, doesn't it? I imagine that would cause some gastric problems for me, anyway. We giggled at the Washaterias versus the Laundramats that we have in our area. I45 became Broadway just as I235 becomes Broadway in our home town. And similarly, it eventually ended. We were spat out on the beach and looked for a place to park.

We passed up two crowded beaches that had an eight-dollar-entry fee. We found a sign on a gravel parking lot marked "Pedestrian Beach Access". I was thrilled by the fact that there were only a hand-full of cars parked in this lot. We locked all of our stuff in the trunk of the car - including our phones - and ventured down the hot gravel path toward the slate-colored sandy beach. Sure enough, there were several other parties on this beach, but they were mostly couples that seemed to have no interest in anything but each other - perfect. The water was breath taking. It was the perfect color of blue-green, the waves were gently breaking with 3- to 5-foot peaks. Although the air was hot, there was a cool breeze coming off the water, and the water was the perfect temperature. I can't tell you what that is, but that it was.

The experience was mesmerizing, and I was reminded of how foreign salt water is to me, having always lived in a land-locked state. We took pictures of each other and the birds. We collected a few shells and water-worn stones. We romped in the waves like a couple of kids. It was relaxing and wonderful. Eventually, we decided to make the trek back up to the car. By the time we got to the car and got dressed, by feet were on fire from the gravel.

We left the beach in search of a place to get a drink. We wound up at Fish Tales, near the beach. We were seated at the corner of their outside balcony, overlooking the beach beyond the street below us. Looking at their drink menu, I became aware that it consisted of the girly, frou-frou drinks. I didn't really want to bother interrogating the waiter on what else I might be able to get, and I didn't really want a beer, so when Jenni ordered the "Hammer Head" I ordered the same. The drink he brought was a small fish bowl of iced sugar-watter with an ounce or two of some kind of rum in it. There was a spear of fruit salad across the top. When I squeezed three types of citrus wedges from the spear into my drink, it became palatable.

We ordered the "Shrimp Kisses" which are butterflied shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon before going to the grill, and of course calamari. The food was wonderful, including the fresh-baked sourdough loaf that was brought to our table. As we ate, the little avian beggers eyed us hungrily. Pigeons and starlings circled our table like little feathered sharks. There were even a couple of sea gulls that hovered over the banister, clearly weighing the risk of our retaliation if they decided to snatch a bite from our table. The birds were not bothersome though, only very present. When we finished our snack, I tore chunks off one small piece of bread that we had left and watched the pigeons vie for the crumbs. Jenni fed two of them from her hand. No, they weren't tame at all!

Once we had no further excuse to hang around, we started back north on I45. Curtis called Jenni's phone on our way up the highway. Apparently, he had tried mine when it was in the trunk at the beach. He said that he was grilling burgers and we could come by any time we wanted to. When we got to Curtis and Andrea's house, Kay was already there, and Curtis was in the pool - drinking a beer and smoking a cigar. I stopped at the bathroom on my way through and Jenni went to the back yard. When I got out there she was in the pool, and Curtis asked me, "Dude, what's with the clothes?"

I said that they do come off, and stripped to my swim trunks that I had worn under my jeans all day. I too had a cigar and a beer in the pool. A couple of hamburgers and several beers later, after much great conversation, Jenni and I excused ourselves a little on the early side. We said our good-byes and headed back to Kay's house. We changed into clean, non-salty clothing and slipped out again. We located a small place where we could sit and have a scotch and chat about our week. We each had a Glenlivet on the rocks, and had a great time people-watching - as we always do. We went to sleep relatively early, and woke up relatively early to make our trip home.

We didn't realize that we were leaving on Saturday morning until Saturday morning. We honestly felt like we could have stayed another week, but we didn't feel like we needed to. So over coffee we loaded up the car, and all of our new-found treasures, said our good-byes to Kay, and headed north on I45.

She told us that we needed to stop by the smokehouse in Centerville, TX. As it turned out, Centerville was about where we needed to stop for gas and a restroom, so it made the perfect pit stop. They had a buffet-style cafe line where we got smoked German sausage and ribs, beans, jalapeƱos, and free iced tea, although I opted for water. The food was good, and the stop was welcome.

On the drive home, Beej called us and asked if we felt up to meeting at the gun range. We had brought our guns in the hope that we might find a range in the Houston area to visit, but wound up not making such an outing. The thought of doing a little shooting on the way back into town was nice. We had fun in the range, but only had the patience and stamina to do that for a little while. We got to try shooting her newly purchased Sig P225, and I picked up the knife that I won in the drawing last weekend. When we got home, it was drinks and relaxation.

As anticlimactic as it always is, we are now back to business as usual. This has been one of our better trips, though.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Action Adventure Vacation Part IV

Yesterday, we decided to go to Spec's on everyone's recomendation. We looked up the address and tried to enter it into the GPS - which would have nothing to do with that address. The little Magellan has been good to us for several years now, and it might just be about time to replace it with an updated unit. I understand that even the updated maps for this model leave a little to be desired, and they are quite expensive. It is on the edge of becomming an unsupported unit. Fortunately, there is such a thing as google maps. We printed out a map that we would use for our trip. The original plan was for us to go to the St. Arnold Brewery after Spec's as breweries and wineries are some of the most fascinating places to visit out of town. It was a St. Arnold ale that Curtis had shared with me the previous day. The brewery is a logical nine-mile step further than Spec's, so it jut seemed like the thing to do, and the Magellan did like that address.

I brushed my teeth, and shaved with my brand-new straight razor and only nicked my face and neck three or four times. I can tell that once I get the hang of it, it will take me less time, and produce a cleaner shave than I've been able to accomplish with any prior equipment. I consider a mere three or four cuts to be quite a success for the first try with such an apparatus. It was about 11:30 when we headed out for our daily adventures.

We got to Spec's, which is a liquor store the size of a Wal-Mart. Think Beer Heaven, or Beer Nirvana, if you will. The employees touted it as the largest liquor store in the world, and I have no reason to doubt the truth of that statement. There were isles upon isles of beer, wine and spirits. They also had specialty foods, a deli, glassware, barware, specialty soft drinks, and a walk-in humidor. We found so many things that we would love to own, but finally pared our purchasing down to under the $100-mark. With very little effort, we could have topped the $1000-mark, had the funds been available of course. A store employee nervously approached as I handled a Riedel Sommelier Zinfandel glass. This was approximately a 30-oz glass, mouth blown by some guy in Austria, and I have been unable to find it on Riedel's website. I suspect that this glass was part of a custom run. At $100 per stem, it was a relative bargain! But it did not come home with me, as I left behind a lot of things that would have been wonderful to bring home. They stocked goods that I've only ever seen in catalogs before. It was truly amazing. Once I had gotten comfortable in the store, I called my dad since he is a beer buff.

"Dad," I said, "If you could have a six-pack of any beer in the world, what would it be?"

"I don't know. I'd have to think about it. Why do you ask?"

"Because I'm in the biggest liquor store you could even imagine, and I bet they've got it."

"Wow! I don't know, but it would probably be something German. Listen, I've got to go."

So, we made our way over to the German beer section. The friendly and helpful staff sent their in-house German beer expert to help us. That gentleman knew A LOT about German beer. I identified the couple of German beers that I knew were not available at the local OK liquor store. I wound up getting a bottle each of Flensburger's Dunkle, Gold, Weizen, and Pilsner. I also picked up five bottles of Pinkus Certified Organic Munster Alt to break out for Sunday lunch. If all of the Flensburgers make it home, I'll give them to Dad. We also bought the tiny steel beads that scrub your decanter for you - I've been wanting to pick up some of these for a while, but I've never seen them in real life before. I found some of the anchovy-suffed olives that I love to make dirty martinis with. These are soaked in chardonnay. We also bought a $20-jar of cherries.

"What," you might ask, "could possibly make a jar of cherries worth $20?" And so, I shall tell you. They are a particular variety of French, wild-growing cherry soaked in liquor from Griottines. More specifically, they are wild Morello cherries in liqueur and Kirsch. They are like tiny little bites of heaven, and will garnish many of my Manhattans until the jar is tragically empty. Because of Draconian liquor laws in Oklahoma, these are impossible to legally buy or sell in my home state. OK liquor stores can only sell alcoholic beverages. They can't sell glasses, tobacco, food, or anything but booze. Any non-liquor store cannot sell anything with an alcoholic content exceeding 3.2% alcohol by volume. Since this jar of cherries is food with an alcoholic content of 15% by volume, it cannot be sold in a liquor store or any other kind of store in the state of Oklahoma. We should petition the Nafeh's to do something about that. I wonder if I can order them when I run out...

Another French item that we purchased that I didn't realize was available in this country is Edmond Fallot Tarragon Dijon Mustard. If you have never had artisan-made green mustard on a rye sandwich, you are missing out on a life experience. Heck, I'm a mustard lover anyway. Anything but French's-style plain yellow mustard in a plastic bottle is fair game as far as I'm concerned. I probably could have blown a full $100.00 on mustard alone in that silly store, honestly enough.

We got the #14 Scottish Kilt sandwich for lunch and split it. What is it about smoked salmon and cream cheese made into a sandwich? That's the kind of food God eats - I'm pretty sure. We each picked some essoterric soft drink to have with our lunch, and I can't remember the name of either. Jenni got some kind of orange drink with ginger in it, and I got some kind of botanical cola. They were both tasty. There were soft drinks that I didn't know were available here as well! We bought several bottles of Mexican Coca Cola. I don't know why we can make the stuff taste that good in the U. S. Strange. Also, they have some exclusively Peruvian beverages that I have not seen outside of Peru. They had Inca Kola (a fizzy, yellow liquid that tastes something like anise) and chicha (a bizarre purple beverage made mostly of blue corn juice). Jenni and I split a bottle of cold chicha, which is chocked full of antioxidants and sugar.

After all of that, we decided to skip the brewery. That evening, we met up with Kay, Curtis, and Andrea and went to a sushi joint for dinner. The sushi was decent, and the Sapporo was cold. Over dinner, I asked Curtis if he would like to smoke a cigar after dinner. He sarchastically commented that he hated cigars, and I couldn't force one on him. After dinner, Andrea went home as she had to get up early for work, and the remaining four of us returned to Kay's back porch. I broke out two of my Nat Sherman cigars that my friend Beej bought for me in New York City. I really enjoyed mine and apparently curtis enjoyed his as well, since he smoked it until he had about 1/2-inch of cigar roach stuck on a toothpick. That's about when he gave up on that one. Curtis, Jenni and I had Maker's Mark on the rocks, garnished with our high-dollar cherries and then a bottle of Gautier VSOP cognac that Kay had stuffed in a closet. Jenni and I also sipped on Sauza tequila. Kay sipped on a rose that she preferred over the hard stuff. We had a great time chatting and laughing until it was nearly morning.

There was a large, mean, ugly cat that came to make trouble with Kay's menagerie of domestics and steal a little food. Jenni correctly identified him as a Scottish fold. Man, that was an ugly cat! The pictures I've seen of them on the internet are odd looking, but that individual was one ugly bastard!

I believe that I had more to drink, but I lost count. My head told me that I had more than that to drink when I woke up this morning. It was a great time - the kind of time that vacations are about. I hope to have more to report tomorrow.

Oh, by the way - I caught a small gecko in our bedroom this morning. That was interesting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Action Adventure Vacation 2008 Part III

To both my readers,

This has been the most unexpected getaway Jenni and I have ever had. Yesterday, we met up with Gatakitty from dailykitten.com and her two kids. We had lunch at Ninfa's with them at Houston's Galleria. The lunch menu is wonderful there, and if those were smaller portions, I don't want to even think about the dinner menu! We made our introductions after Jenni clairvoyantly identified Gatakitty. Her son is twelve, and is over-the-top respectful. He maturely engages in conversation and avidly uses such formalities as "sir" and "maam." After lunch, he ran off to play video games. Her daughter is sixteen, and belies her age with her maturity and thoughtfulness. In conversation, she was critical of other girls her age lack of conservative dress, and displayed an intelligence that is rarely seen with adults even. With the young master off playing video games, the remaining four of us walked the Galleria, admiring things we can't afford, and ridiculing the idiocity of concepts such as paying nearly $2,000 for a DKNY dress that was made in a sweat shop by Chinese children. Talk about dancing on the backs of the bruised!

I discovered vests! In many of the window displays at the designer stores, they had men's outfits with wool, lapelled vests over a t-shirt and jeans or a collared shirt and slacks, and they looked nice! In the winter, I will be wearing sport coats as I always do, which make wonderful cover garments for on-waistband-carry, but they are simply too warm to wear in 100+ degree heat. I've been wearing an unbuttoned camp/bowling/Hawaiian styled-shirt over a t-shirt as my cover garment this Summer, and I don't particularly like the sloppy look. I have read time and time again that one must adjust one's wardrobe when making the decision to carry a concealed weapon, and I had begrudgingly accepted that idea. The vest makes me reconsider the core principle of it, though. The adjustments to the wardrobe don't necessarily need to be contrary to the spirit of the wardrobe. Clothing zen...

Gatakitty called Neiman Marcus "Needless Markup." That was freaking hysterical! We rifled through the "sale" racks in Saks - which was stupid since we couldn't afford to pay $1500 for a Prada dress on sale any more than we could afford to pay the origianal $5000. After some time, Gatakitty became concerned about my ability to hold up under the pressure of looking at dresses. I told her that I was fine. The truth of the matter is that I love looking at well-made women's clothing. A beautiful woman's garment is such a feat of artistry and engineering alike that it appeals to the masculane, mechanical side of my mind as well as the artistic, loves-beautiful-stuff side of my mind. I swear that one of these days, I'm going to try my hand at designing and making women's clothing!

At a store called The Wild Pair, we found shoes that were made in China, and shoes that were made in places that are not reknown for sweat shop labor. When we visited this store on Tuesday, they had a pair of Portuguese-made, pointy-toed, mottled-gray, patent-leather, men's wingtips. These were marked down from one hundred, some-odd dollars to twenty-nine. Unfortunately, I was not wearing socks. Yesterday when we went back in, the same pair of shoes had been marked down by an additional ten dollars. I tried them on this last time, and they got rave reviews from all the girls that were there. I decided that for less than twenty dollars, I could give them a whirl even if they are a little outside of my comfort style. Gatakitty's sixteen-year-old daughter seemed particularly impressed with them, which egged me on as I don't want to age into one of those men who is so rigid that they dress like an old man. I don't want to be dressing like a kid when I'm old, but there's nothing wrong with youthful style for anyone in the right doses.

I pulled two pairs of ladies shoes off the shelf and offered them to Jenni for her inspection. She said that she had eyed the one pair the previous day. It was a pair of yellow, snake-skin, 3.5-inch stillettos, made in Paris. They were $19. the other pair was a molded-plywood sole with a metallic pink, patent-leather buckle strap also with a 3.5-inch spike, made in Italy for $19. I was ready to leave the store, and she seemed to be wrenched between the two shoes. I told her that I thought she should get both. She looked at me and said, "I love you - so much." Geez, that was easy. Who knew that the suggestion to spend an additional $20 on shoes could make me the hero? Sorry, but the husbands who have a hard time scoring with their wives aren't getting the wives enough shoes, apparently. She gets more shoes than I do. 2:1 to 4:1, somewhere in that ratio. This is the natural order of things, and it's my duty to make sure that she has more quality shoes than plastic, blister-inducing pieces of crap that many women are drawn to like a racoon to shiny objects. (See shoes below)

Hubby's new shoes

Beautiful new shoes

And, that would be one of the many things that I love about women. God showed us his divine sense of humor in creating the difference between the genders. It's sick that one side should ever ridicule the other. We should laugh at, celebrate, and enjoy the differences. I for one try to enjoy my wife's femininity as often as possible.

There was another store at the mall called Necessary Luxuries that looked at first glance like a glamor knife shop. You know the kind I'm talking about - rows and rows of fantasy/sci-fi looking knives that were all made in a dark warehouse somewhere in a mythical land called "Pakistan." Deeper in the store though, we saw some very interesting blades and other fine objects and met the owner, Lee Prudhomme. There was a very well-stocked Victorinox case, there was a shelf of hand-turned, wooden yo-yos and pens, and there was a case of old-fashioned shaving supplies. In this final case, he had safety razors with stands, shaving brushes, blades, cream supplies, straight razors, sharpening stones and leather. I found this to be particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my daily shave is an electric. When I use the new multi-blade razors, they irritate my face. Occasionally I have used an antique safety razor, but have never been terribly fond of it outside of the close shave. When Jenni packed our toiletries, she left my electric behind, and I was beginning to get fuzzy. So, I bought myself a razor. Mr. Prudomme showed me one that is functionally like a straight razor, but takes half of a safety razor blade in a catch, so it doesn't have to be sharpened. He said that this is a great way to economically try out old-fashioned shaving, without putting down the money on the supplies neeeded to get started with the genuine stuff. I took the bait, and am pleased to say that I successfully shaved with my new straight razor this morning. I have a feeling that Jenni will be buying me a nice, carbon-steel straight blade with a stone and a strop, possibly a brush and cup as well. I love my Blackberry and my fuel-injected, DOHC engine, but some modern things are clumbsy substitutes at best for their predecessors. Mr. Prudhomme is gifted with great conversation, and I would recommend that anyone take the time to step into his shop to talk blades, antiques, or geneology.

I know that I've been long-winded with this post, but please do just stick with me here as I'm almost done.

Last night, Kay (whose house we are staying at this week) took us over to her son Curtis' house. She said that we would get along great with Curtis and his wife, Andrea. We got to the house and parked our black Sentra SE-R Spec V in front of his older model black Sentra SE-R. We went inside to find that the house was in a state of remodel - much like ours. Walking into the living room, we spotted a multimedia projector mounted to the ceiling over a centrally-placed couch facing a wall, which reminded us of our own home-theater projector setup. Although our screen is a painted 91-inch, and Curtis' is a 96-inch pull-down. Like me, Curtis does all the cooking and doesn't let his wife cook for him. We talked scotch and cigars, smoked cigars, and had some of the better ale that I've had. Yeah. I like Curtis and Andrea. He grilled fajita steak, and we ate fajitas and watched the first 2/3 of Bad Boys II. In fact, it was kind of creepy as it was almost like being at home, as though I had just met some kind of doppleganger in a parallel universe - he's even a red-head. Curtis gave me a J. Fuego Delirium maduro cigar that was simply wonderful! Unlike a typical Dominican that you have to warm up with the first inch or so of tobacco before you really get to the flavor, this thing was going full-throttle from light-up like a Cuban! I had no headache this morning, and the nasty morning-after-cigar mouth-taste was faint and disappeared with my coffee (I haven't brushed my teeth yet - I'm on vacation and I'll get to it).

Today, more adventures are certainly ahead of us, and I expect to be back at Curtis and Andrea's this evening. I fully expect scotch and cigars, but I may have to treat the cigars this time. We'll see, and I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Action Adventure Vacation 2008 Part II

As Standing Wolf said to me on thehighroad.org,
May you always have a gun near to hand, and may you never need it.

Amen to that. We woke up on Tuesday, and I was on a quest to find tobacco. I failed to get an ample supply to make it through this trip. The cigarettes I smoke are Nat Sherman natural cigarettes. These are the highest-quality all-natural cigarettes available. They are made in New York, and are a little more expensive than the big brands, but I find that I smoke far less of them, and they don't make me stink as Phillip Morris or RJ Reynolds products tend to. They don't usually carry these at the corner store, but almost always carry them at a dedicated tobacco store - usually pipe and cigar stores, etc.

On Tuesday morning, we thought that we might make it out to the beach in Galveston, and we didn't know where we would or would not be permitted to carry, and we didn't want to have to leave our guns in the car unattended, so we decided to leave them locked up in the house that we are staying for the week. Through the course of the day, we felt underdressed at the Galleria - which is kind of nice actually. When you go into the Armani or Versace store WEARING Armani or Versace, they get pushy. When you walk in slumming it, they just watch you to make sure you don't steal anything. Fine. Watch and make sure I don't steal anything, but leave me alone for the sake of all that is good and right and hand-crafted in Italy! Frankly, I am not going to spend that on a piece of clothing. That's why I buy all of my stuff second-hand. When I have the opportunity, I like to go in to see the current styles, nothing more. If I'm going to make an exception and spend the money on off the rack product, I will do it at Mr. Ooley's in Oklahoma City. I have bugged those guys so many times that they deserve my business, unlike the employees of a mall store that will see me for twenty minutes in their lifetime, thank you very much.

We had lunch at O'Cajcen's Kitchen, before we drove up and down I45, looking for a smoke shop. The fried crawfish tails were wonderful, and the service was great. We saw the first evidence of Hurricane Dolly while dining, as her torrent came down in fury for about ten minutes prior to the sun coming back out to make the humidity come up to about 682%.

On I45, I saw a billboard-sized sign that read something to the effect of "*something-or-other* Smoke Shop" and thought that sounded like the ticket to find my Nat Shermans. We pulled off the hightway and slowly navigated our way into the indicated shopping center. We pulled past empty storefronts, and one with painted windows labeled "Liquid" in neon. I don't know whether it was a strip club or a dance club, and I don't really care. The entire place was seedy, and I wanted to take care of my business and get out. The 4:30 position on my back was screaming that it did not have it's gun, even though I'm not usually conciously aware of it when I'm carrying anymore. I hate to make judgements on people by their looks, but the people that I saw in the vast parking lot did not inspire trust from me.

We arrived at the storefront of the "smoke shop" and I pulled the car into a parking space by the door next to big-wheeled cars. We walked inside to seek tobacco - as one might when entering a smoke shop. Inside we found t-shirts, CD's, and glass water bongs. There was rap music playing, and I was not completely aware that I was the only white person in the house, but everyone else was. This store is run by Victor and his brother. They didn't tell me that they were brothers, but it was quite obvious as they looked more alike than my brother and I do. Victor introduced himself, shook my hand and asked if he could help me find anything. He was very courteous, and tried to hide the glaring fact that he thought I was lost. Ignoring the fact that all eyes in the house were on me, I reciprocated the introduction as I shook his hand and told Victor that I wanted to have a look around. He said that he would be available if I needed any help.

As we made our way around the store, I noted how it's a shame that the Bush administration has come down so hard on drug paraphernalia, as glass water bongs are quite beautiful from an artistic standpoint. So many art glass shops have either shut down or resorted to making sex toys due to the abrupt prosecution of head shops. The selection of mouth-blown bongs, pipes, and pinch-hitters was quite impressive - as was the selection of metal varieties and lighters. I personally do not use any illegal drugs, but I was not born yesterday and knew that none of these objects were for tobacco use, regardless of what any disclaimer signs say in the shop. In fact, I did not see one cigarette, cigar, tobacco pipe, or even an ounce of pipe tobacco. That's when we started making our way to the front of the shop to leave.

Victor stopped us on our way out and asked if we needed help finding anything. I turned to him and said, "You don't sell any tobacco here do you?" Upon his affirmation that they did not, I said with what I imagine was a sly smile, "Oh, so it's not THAT kind of smoke shop, huh?" A woman in the corner guffawed at my comment.

"Nah," he replied, "We did, but we weren't making any money at it, so he stopped carrying the cigarettes and stuff."

"That sounds like the smart thing to do," I said, "You've got to follow where the market leads, afterall."

"Yeh. I guess maybe we should change the name of the shop, but he hasn't gotten around to doing that," Victor explained.

I sincerely thanked Victor for his help (and hospitality), and we returned to our car which was rattling from the bass of the car that had just pulled next to ours. The driver eyed me suspiciously as he deliberately set off the alarm of the car on the opposite side of ours with his gigantic speakers. I carefully watched Jenni get into the car and pretended not to watch all around me as I slipped into my side of the car. Jenni hit the lock button before I could get to it on my door.

Long story short, I didn't find the exact variety that I was looking for but ultimately did find Nat Sherman cigarettes that will tide me over until next week. Standing Wolf's words haunted me in that I would not have used my gun in the situation as it was, but it sure would have been nice to have it at my side. I hope I never find myself in a situation where I'm forced to resort to such violence, but I never intend to be without the means again. You just never know where you will end up, and you can never predict who you will run into or what their story will be.

Action Adventure Vacation 2008 Part I

To both my readers, enjoy.

It has now been about six weeks since I got my conceal carry permit. Needless to say, I'm still trying to get aquainted with the life of daily carrying. When people are surprised to learn that I have been carrying a 7-shot .357 Magnum right under their noses, I know that I have done my job right. On Monday after a very busy day of work, Jenni and I headed out towards Houston. This will be the first out of town trip that we have taken with our CCW permits.

We left from my workplace with the intent of getting to our destination as early as possible. The drive down was fairly uneventful through Dallas, and we decided to stop and get gas and eats once we had cleared the Dallas bustle - just after the half-way mark on our trip. Once we had refueled the car and our own bodies, we started out again. It was about 8:30, it was starting to get dark, and I noticed that the law enforcement was thick in stopping people on this particular section of I45.

So, I made sure to adhere to the posted speed limit, being out of state and seeing others who had not made the same decision on the side of the road with the flashing blues and reds that seem purple with these new LED's that the cop cars are now equipped with. About thirty miles out, I saw a State Trooper parked on the side of the road with his lights off. When we passed him, I saw his headlights come on and he pulled out into traffic. I double-checked my speed and ran through a list in my head, making sure that I could not be his target. I saw him pull closer to our car, and his red and blue lights came on right behind us. "Oh, come on!" I exclaimed, "What in the world do you want from ME?" as I pulled the car to the shoulder and rolled down the window.

There is a certain protocol in a contact with a law enforcement officer when one is legally carrying a handgun. I put my hands where they were completely visible, one out the driver's side window and the other on the passenger headrest. After waiting in the bath of floodlights for what seemed an eternity in the cooling humidity, the officer approached the passenger-side window, and Jenni rolled it down. He was a young man, probably about my age, seemed to be about my build, and fortunately seemed to be in a good mood. I could see his traditional straw cowboy hat and his WW-II G.I.-esque tan shirt, short-sleeved with epaulettes. I was so incredibly nervous that I was shaking like a leaf. I knew that if I did everything that I was supposed to it would be fine, but the fact of the matter is that this was the first time that I have been in this particular situation. Before I could inform him that I was legally carrying a weapon, he started talking, pointing his flashlight in our faces.

"I'm sure you are wondering why I pulled you over," he said, "You have a tag light out, and you need to get that taken care of," he continued before I could get a word in edgewise, "If I could see your license and registration, I'll get you a written warning - no ticket - and yall can get on your way."

At this point, I did what I've been trained to do. Without moving my hands, I said, "Yes sir, but I need to tell you that..."

Before I could finish my sentance he interjected, "What, you got a gun?"

"Yes sir," I said, "and I do have my license to carry."

He waived his hand at me in dismissal, "That's ok. We're cool with guns around here."

It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I asked my wife to retrieve the insurance card from the glove box as I picked up my wallet from the center console and pulled out my driver and handgun licenses. I handed the officer all three cards as I am supposed to with such an encounter.

"Oh cool!" he said, "I hadn't seen an Oklahoma permit before! Yours looks better than ours does!" Then, leaning deeply over the passenger window sill he asked, "If you don't mind me asking, how much does that cost there?"

"It's about $200.00 once all is said and done," I replied.

"Yeah," he said thoughtfully, "same here."

I then asked, "Is is good for five years here too?"

He rolled his eyes in contemplation, "I... think so." He laughed and continued, "I should know that seeing as how it's my department. I guess I need to double check that stuff when I get the chance. So, do they give it to you unless you're a felon there too?"

"Absolutely," I answered, "as long as the paperwork is filed properly and the record is clean, they will issue the permit."

"I think everybody ought to get their CHL and carry a gun," he said somberly.

"Me too," I agreed.

Leaning over the window sill again, he added with just a touch of venom in his words, "As far as I'm concerned, it just keeps the felons in check!"

I agreed, and with that he went back to his car to write the warning. Jenni and I giggled the entire time that we waited this second time. This had been by far the most pleasant experience that I've ever had being pulled over. He returned to the car with the warning, reiterating that it would be accompanied with no fees or anything else. He wished us safety and happy gunning, and sent us on our way. About twenty miles later, we pulled into a Love's Travel Stop to change the light bulbs on the license plate. When I applied pressure on the screws to access the bulbs, they came back on. I poked around at them for a minute, and they remained on. So, we shrugged our shoulders and continued on our way. So, we now have that random little anecdote in our life's resume. The funniest things happen when people are involved, don't they?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sharing Toothbrushes?

There are things that happen to us as children that seem queer at the time. Many of these things that we experience, we write off as lack of experience and move on. I have forgotten more bizarre childhood experiences than I remember because of this. Once in a great while, there will be a circumstance that pulls one of these long-forgotten memories to the surface, and I have the opportunity to review such situations from an adult standpoint.

When I was growing up, my parents worked to keep the romance alive between the two of them. They made it a point to not let anyone or anything come between the two of them. It is fairly common for children to try to pit their parents against each other so they can get away with things. My brother an I were no exception to this. My parents however, would never fall for this ploy, but instead stood as a concrete unit against my shenanigans. They would have a weekly date night to keep the romance alive. Even when we had very little as a family, and could not afford the finer things in life, my parents budgeted to afford certain bare necessities. There was always a roof over my head, clothes on my back, nutritious food to eat, white-label beer for Mom and Dad to drink on occasion, and date night for Mom and Dad. Many times, my brother and I would stay with grandparents while my parents went out. Other times, they would hire a babysitter. Keep in mind that these are early childhood memories, and I can't remember a single name of a babysitter. Only situations.

Babysitters come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The biggest problem with them - and with anyone for that matter - is that they are imperfect people. This is also the biggest source of entertainment concerning them. There was one babysitter that was as sweet as honey in front of my parents, but as the car would clear the driveway, she magically transformed into the Evil Bitch From Hell. I swear, you could see the black clouds form over her head, and the fire sparking in her eyes. My brother and I were good kids, but high-spirited, as boys should be. When it was just the three of us, she would scream the entire evening. "SHUT THE HELL UP!!!" "GO TO BED NOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW!!!" in shrill screeching tones that would send cold shivers and goosebumps down the spine of harpies and banshees alike. She would scream about how she was going to tell our parents EXACTLY how BAD we were behaving. But, when Mom and Dad came home, she would coo to them about how well behaved we were, and how she always loved coming, and how she was looking forward to next time, in tones that would lull even the sirens to sleep.

Fast-forward twenty-five years. One morning several days ago, my son was in the bathroom, and I was in the adjoining bedroom. He was brushing his teeth, and I was loading my daily gear into my pockets. I heard a clatter that sounded remarkably like toothbrushes striking the tile behind the toilet - approximately where the plunger resides. I came around the corner to investigate to find him placing my toothbrush back on the medicine cabinet where I keep it. I asked him if he had knocked my toothbrush down on the floor, and he hesitantly admitted to it. I told him that it was not a really big deal, but anytime something like that happened, he needed to report it immediately, that accidents happen, and to please be more careful moving forward. Jenni pulled the heads off of all three toothbrushes and soaked them in rubbing alcohol until the next day. No biggie.

Then, I had the emergence of a very bizarre memory. One babysitter that my parents hired for a while was a very sweet girl. She was fun to be around, she played games with us, she was gentle, and generally seemed to enjoy the babysitting gig. She would come over, and we would play cards or a board game. Then, we would eat dinner, and all three wash dishes. Side note - kids need to learn to do dishes and find that it can be pleasant. After we did dishes, my brother and I would get changed for bed, and brush our teeth. This particular babysitter would come to the bathroom with us and brush her teeth too. Sometimes she would use Mom's toothbrush, and other times she would use Dad's. If she felt like she needed to get her teeth really clean, she would use both.

Did you catch that? At the time, it struck me as odd that she was using my parent's toothbrushes. I couldn't quite put my finger on why. At that age, we don't have enough personal boundaries for me to have been able to identify that it was a massive violation of privacy and personal space for her to be "borrowing" my parent's TOOTHBRUSHES, but at any rate, it didn't seem quite right to me. When I asked her if that was okay, she would sweetly explain that she had forgotten her toothbrush, and that she would clean them after we were in bed. That explanation seemed reasonable enough to me, and that memory was filed away in the dark corner of my brain along with all of the other insignificant childhood memories. --that is until my son knocked my toothbrush into the e coli zone where the toilet plunger lives.

I guess that just goes to show what a remarkable and strange piece of hardware the human brain is. Mom and Dad, if you read this I'm sorry. If it had struck me as significant at the time, I would have told you. I can't even tell you the girl's name. If her germs were going to kill you, I imagine they would have by now, if that makes you feel any better. I wonder what other weird memories I've got rattling around in here...

Friday, July 11, 2008

W - The President - Part II

Read This.

No wonder the democrats don't like him. I'm still trying to figure out what the other quarter of the population don't like about him. Maybe it's only that people in general don't like politicians. I know I don't. He is polarizing, that's for sure...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

W - The President

To both of my readers,

Please share this with all of your friends that are living in the darkness of the typical, liberal mindset.

I cannot agree more with the sentiments of Sameh El-Shahat in the sentiment that George W. Bush is the most under-rated president ever.
Whatever happened to leadership and honesty as presidential traits? I happen to believe that the only leader in the West to have these two admirable qualities in droves is the leader of the free world: George W Bush.

Not to mention integrity, self-conviction, and broad shoulders against criticism. This dude is the political Energizer Bunny. It doesn't matter what awful things the proletariat says about him, he just keeps on doing what he feels like benefits his country the most. If I were him, I would have said "F%$# it!" by now, "You want to see bad legislation, I'll give you bad legislation!" Or at the very least, get defensive with the media. But no, he just keeps trucking along, quietly taking the abuse of the People he is trying to better. When I skip forward to the comments section, we get the classic popular arguments against GWB, and I see this kind of crap:
He did lie. He did invade a country and kill innoncent civilians for no reason. We are less safe than we were 8 years ago. We have also lost some of our constitutinal rights (which in my mind as a patriotic American, is the worst part of his administration).

I keep hearing this rhetoric over and over again, and it drives me nuts! It shows no critical, objective thought, and insults my intelligence.

1) How did he lie?
I (like many other active self-thinkers) believe that the invasion of Iraq was justified with the intelligence available at the time, and ultimately justified by the impending outcome. Saddam Hussein was the next Hitler or Mussolini. If we had not taken him out when we did, we would have a bigger problem on our hands. Taking him out, we had to set up a government for them or there would just be some other bastard to take his place. Period. The only mistake we make in Iraq was not finishing business the first time around in the Gulf War. The Surge is working, and we are winning this war!

2) Kill innocent civilians - WTF?
Can anyone chronicle this claim or back it up an any way shape or form? Civilians will catch some crossfire with a war in their home land. This war has been remarkably responsible towards protecting civilians considering WWI (~10-Million), WWII (~30-Million), Vietnam (who knows?), etc., etc., etc. Compare that to the Less than 100,000 in the current Iraq war. Keep in mind that this is the TOTAL DEATH COUNT on civilians, and not necessarily the deaths attributed to U. S. troops. So, I don't want to hear and more about that shit.

3) For no reason?
Really? Please see my answer to number one.

4) Which Constitutional rights?
Be more specific, please. Like the Constitutional rights to free speech, or bearing arms? Last I checked, it was the Left that was trying to suppress those rights with "political correctness" and "gun control".

It just makes me so mad I could spit! People, please. I'm pleading with all the libs and their "Bush is baaaaaaad" sheep routine. Please, people, use your minds. Be open minded and make your own decisions about things with objective data. Please don't make up your mind with what the T. V. or other liberals tell you. It's time to make your own decisions, and quit spouting the rhetoric.

Thanks for reading my $.02. Bring on the flames.

--Michael