Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Can't hurt...

To sign this petition. Might even help...

UPDATE: My wife just did... Hell yeah!


My darling wife has made quite a sacrifice for Lent... she's gone completely vegan. This is going to be tough for her because she dearly loves dairy (Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, anyone?). While I have no doubt she's able to pull this off (she did it last year, after all), the whole concept of this is beyond me. Of course I will support her - more meat and cheese for me, by the by... can't let it go to waste...
She did make some bitching Thai curry soup the other day, that even I, the obligate carnivore, found delicious. In her quest to find appropriate foodstuffs, she usually introduces us all to new experiences, mostly positive... mostly.
Alcohol, of course, is completely animal free...


I have to say I'm pretty excited about this movie, seeing as its about the battle of Thermopylae (480BC), where 300 Spartans (and several hundred allies) led by their king, Leonidas held off the Persian army long enough for the rest of the Greek city-states to get their crap together. The Spartans died to the last man. I'm going to be really interested to see how the director portrays this, although I'm somewhat concerned by the trailers, which essentially show the Spartans running around in nothing but underwear and capes(?)... Should be worth seeing, even so...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Time to man up

My wife recently went part time, to focus more on our children and our home, which has made her much happier (myself too, truth be told).  However, now I need to step up to replace that income, with the eventual goal of having her quit her job completely.  I would love to have my wife home full time, and I think the kids would really appreciate it too.   I've kind of been slacking on this... we've pared down our expenses somewhat, but now I need to either find a better job, a second job, or another source of income... the sooner the better.    Suggestions are welcome... 

Sunday, February 25, 2007


That's the title of a new bill introduced in Congress. It's a reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban (and some!) that the Republican - controlled Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Well, the Democrats own the house now, so its a different ballgame.
Here's the stated purpose:
"to reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes." (emphasis mine)

Those "other purposes" include:

All semi-automatic shotguns.
All semi-automatic rifles exempted by the original AWB, including - but not limited to - Springfield M1, Ruger Mini 14 and Mini 30, M1 carbine, Ruger 10/22 (!) and all the semi-autos that were manufactured to comply with the original AWB.
65 specifically named guns (compared to the original's 19 named guns).
There's more, that I'm not going to bother stating here, except for the most important difference:
This ban would be permanent. No 10 year sunset on this one, folks.

And you know what? This is our fault. Our nation's "throw the bums out" mentality that resulted in the change of power in Congress in '06 has directly led to this. Democrats feel that the nation has handed them a mandate, which is patently obvious in the rhetoric coming out of Washington lately.
However, rather than focus on self-flagellation, let's look at the positive...
The Internet, now much more than in 1994, is an incredible tool to spread news and focus interest on important issues. (Witness the nuking of Jim Zumbo last week). More people can hear about this nonsense, and faster. The sooner we know, the sooner we can act.
The 1994 Republican Revolution was in part a result of the original AWB. We're mindful of this; we can hope (or help remind them) that the current Congress is too. I am hopeful that many of our representatives are aware that a yes vote on this is tantamount to political suicide.

Of course, we can balance that hope with action. We should write our representatives and let them know what the consequences of an "aye" vote on HR1022 will mean for them personally. Bottom line: if they won't work to preserve our rights, we'll vote someone in who will.

What else can we do? Take a newbie to the range. Dispel the media-enforced notions of gun owners as hicks, rednecks or outright lunatics. Become an ambassador for the Second Amendment. Get them on our side.

Believe me, everyone, whether they realize it right now or not, needs to see this bill go down in flames, because it's implications for the future of personal liberty in this country are appalling.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

O Frabjous Day!

I went to Turners today, and after jumping through the DOJ hoops for my latest acquisition (aka my birthday present), I browsed the rack for a few minutes, as is my wont. My eyes lit upon a suspiciously familiar form...

"Is that an AR?" I asked the clerk.

"Sure is," he replied with a smile.

"How is that legal in California?"

He proceeded to show me. The magazine well was closed off, and you had to reload it by pushing a button toward the back of the upper which would then pivot upward from the lower. Yuck. Oh well...

"But you know, we do have CA-legal FALs..."


Oh man, when I picked this puppy up I knew I was in trouble. The magazine was fixed in place, and you reload from the top via a stripper clip, like an SKS. The clerk told me that if I ever moved out of state, I could return the gun to the manufacturer and they'd remove the fixed magazine.

A thing of beauty.

A truly eeevvvvillll looking battle rifle, a thing to make Feinstein wet herself, and fully legal in my state.

I must have it.

Well that sucks...

Some guy kicks in your door, comes into your home and you shoot him, whereupon he flees, and your family is safe. So far so good, right?
Err, maybe not....

Investigators are still exploring whether any charges should be filed against the homeowner, Franchville said.

Huh? For defending himself and his family? Unbelievable... anywhere else but California.
If anything, I would mandate more range time, since he only shot the guy in the foot.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Zumbo stuff...

Mrs Du Toit articulated it much better than I could. She wrote an excellent piece on the whole Jim Zumbo situation, and explains why the Second Amendment is NOT about hunting.

On a lighter note...

I just got word that my birthday present finally came in! Only 3 months late! I get to start my 10 day wait tomorrow! More on that later....


The clan was supposed to be heading out to Glamis (Imperial Sand Dunes) tonight for a fun weekend of duning and off-roading, but I feel like crap and pretty much just want to climb into bed. I cringe at the thought of just driving there, let alone actually getting out on the dunes. Hope my friends aren't too pissed - we were supposed to cook dinner tomorrow night! But I just can't hang. I've been feeling progressively worse all day so I cancelled :(. There'll be other opportunities - I'm looking forward to giving my XR650 a little exercise this spring...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Joys of parenthood...

My kids' school is across town from the kingdom, and I pick them up on my way home from work. So, we went through the usual ritual today, got home and as I went outside to unleash the hounds, I heard Number One Son start bawling inside. He rushed out to tell me he had lost his homework, by which time he had gone into complete meltdown, no doubt anticipating the fiendish punishment his teacher would visit on him in the morning. After a few choice words and a search of the truck, we hopped in to go back to school. Did I mention that it was clear across town?
We pulled up by the side of the school, and there it was: his homework packet placed by a tree on the roadside by some kind soul. Looks like my boy dodged the lash, though I'm out an hour of my precious time. Such is fatherhood.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What I'm reading...

Or more accurately, just got done with... "The Pale Horseman", by Bernard Cornwell. This is the second in his historical fiction series set during the reign of Alfred the Great of England.
The tale is told through the eyes of Uhtred, a fictional Northumbrian ealdorman (earl) who gets caught up in Alfred's story. Their relationship is antagonistic; Uhtred, having spent his formative years with the Danes (who are invading England) and being a proud, violent pagan, is bound by oath (and debt, by marriage) to the cause of Alfred, a very pious Christian, heavily influenced by the clergy and very distrustful of this young earl who is caught between two worlds. Alfred knows Uhtred has his uses, especially when he will begin to realize his dream of uniting all of England, north and south, and Uhtred is torn by his admiration of the Danes and his love for his homeland. The two hate each other, and this dynamic makes for a terrific story.
I'm pretty tight-fisted when it comes to buying books, but when I enjoy them as much as I have this series, it's very hard for me to have the patience to wait for them to come out in paperback (which usually takes a year after the hardback release). The third in the series, "Lords of the North", is already out in hardback, and it has taken a distinct effort of will for me not to rush out and get it, despite knowing we can't really afford it right now.
I've been an avid Sci-fi/fantasy reader for years, and its only lately that I've been getting into historical fiction. Man, have I been missing some gems! My first foray into the genre was "The Ten Thousand", by Michael Curtis Ford, a novelization of Xenophon's retreat from Persia to the shores of the Black Sea. I was so interested in the story, I rushed out to get the original, "Anabasis" by Xenophon. The real account was no less amazing than the novel. From then on, I've been hooked.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seems like...

... Outdoor Life gun writer Jim Zumbo really put his foot in it over the weekend...
Turns out he feels that those scary black "assault rifles" have no place in the sportsman's gun rack, even going so far as to propose they be banned as hunting weapons. Well, that's his opinion, I suppose, although it doesn't seem to be shared by many of his sponsors, which I heartily applaud.
This kind of nonsense highlights the split between the hunting community and that of the shooters, and it's an attitude that I've encountered myself. As long as their guns are safe, they could give a crap about what happens to yours, or worse, calling for restrictions or bans on the guns they do not use.
What we all need to understand is that there are no "good" guns as far as anti-gunners are concerned. They want them all banned, but are patient and willing enough to achieve their ends by small, incremental steps; first the scary black "assault rifles", then Bubba's slick wood-grained hunting rig. Gun owners of every stripe need to get this! Successfully banning one type of gun makes it easier for the next ban, and dopey writers like Zumbo are just unwitting tools.
I'm stoked that the gun-owning community jumped on this dude with both feet and fast. The guy is entitled to his opinion, this is America after all, but only a complete idiot would crap on his own doorstep like that.
Outdoor Life has been backpedaling frantically for the last couple of days, and Remington has dropped him like a hot brick. He's attempted a half-hearted apology, but the damage has been done. Maybe he can find himself a new career at the Brady Center. Seems like he'd fit right in.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


For too long, the western part of my kingdom has been ravaged by my two canine avatars of destruction, aided in no small part by the Evil Forces of Entropy (laziness and neglect). No more, say I. It's time to take my backyard back, and replace the ravaged wasteland of arid powdered granite and dog poo with the lush greenness of a beautifully manicured lawn!
It's a four-pronged plan of attack:
Stage 1: Install a Virtual Fence of Impenetrable Green Plastic to limit my organic rototillers to the patio and side yard. Check. (Although, the fence may be a little too virtual, judging by the number of landmines I had to deal with this morning. OK, more vigilance required).
Stage 2: Clean detritus from yard, level and fill in holes. Gah. Check. Even in February it's too hot for this crap. Must be global warming.
Stage 3: Break up soil surface (OK scratch it with a rake) and water liberally in preparation for the final assault. In process.
Stage 4: Add seed, 20 bags steer manure, water and wait. (I'm not going to be a favorite with my neighbors for a while, but we're all going to have to make sacrifices for the good of the kingdom). Begins tomorrow...
Haro BVK, and may God favor the right!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gun Laws

Just got my handy "Summary of California Gun Laws & Basic Safety Rules" from the CRPA (California Rifle and Pistol Association) today. Man, this thing is a must-have in this state. There are so many laws and they're so convoluted, even the cops have trouble keeping up. This guide picks through them all and lets you know in plain English what you can and can't do, because if you don't know the rules, you're setting yourself up for a misdemeanor or worse. If you own guns in California, I strongly recommend you pay the $18 for a year's membership and get the guide. You'll also get a monthly newsletter which details current legislation being considered, as well as interesting articles and opinion (albeit mostly written by a bunch of old farts). Here's the site:

Work stuff...

When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I'm a chemist, the response is usually something along the lines of "cool", "fascinating" or "interesting"... until I start talking to them about my job for more than, oh, two minutes. That's about when the eyes start to glaze over...
So now I just boil it down to "yeah I test water" and "yeah, the water coming out of your faucet is perfectly safe" and we're done.
Anyway, stepping into geek mode for a moment, I started learning a new test today - SM8141 - analysis of water by GC/MS with NPD. This test has 55 analytes! Thats 55 peaks per chromatogram that I need to integrate! A 7 point calibration means I have to stare at over 350 peaks before I even get to client samples! Maybe cracking a beer will help uncross my eyes...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bikes, part I

I bought my first motorcycle in 1992, a 1982 Kawasaki 550 LTD.

I bought it from a coworker's husband at the pizza place I worked at, for $1000, paying $100 a month. I had never ridden a bike before, I just knew I wanted to, and the guy showed me how to ride when he sold it to me. It had a dead battery the day I went to get it, so he showed me how to push-start the bike by running alongside it, popping the clutch and hopping on. Looked easy enough...

I tried it, popped the clutch, the bike fired right up and dragged me straight into a parked pickup. No harm done (although the owner of the truck wanted me to give him fifty bucks, even though it was a non-running pile of crap. No, I didn't cough up).

That was the only time I ever laid that bike down. I rode it for 5 years (at one point it was my ONLY mode of transportation) and the only trouble it gave me was a blown fuse. I finally sold it to my buddy Steve for what I paid for it (well, 900 bucks and an iguana).

My next bike was a 1989 EX500, another Kawasaki, a little white sport bike. My friend DeeDee had bought it new, put 350 miles on it, and then parked it. I cashed out my piddly Sears 401K (about $2K) and gave her $1800 for it. What a steal! The bike was immaculate, and after cleaning the carbs (she had let it sit for a while) it ran like a champ. That bike took my fat ass up to 120mph in San Timoteo canyon, solid as a rock all the way. Unfortunately, I did dump that bike a couple of times...

The first time I was being followed by my buddy Shane, in his Honda Accord. I was stopped at a stop sign, and inched forward to get a better view of the road. Shane thought I was making the turn, and started to make the turn too. Smack! He knocked me across the lane and I wound up on my back in a daze. His friend got out and offered me a smoke (I had been quit for about 3 months, and started right back up that night... any excuse, eh?). I was fine, the bike was OK - needed some plastics work, which Shane took care of no problem.

The second time was a little more serious. I had been married for about 3 or 4 months, and my wife and I were living in her parents' cabin in Forest Falls. She was pregnant with our son at the time, which makes it even better. Anyway, I was heading to work and decided to take the canyon, a twisty road and a fun ride. I took a tight corner a little too fast, lost control and dumped it doing about 45. I was wearing a leather jacket and full-face helmet (which is why I still have my dazzling good looks) and tough jeans, but after I pitched into the roadside and tried to get up, something was wrong... my right shoulder felt weird, and my legs were a little scraped up. I was pretty pissed, my bike was a mess, and I wasn't feeling too good. I'd crushed my cigarettes, too, just to top it all off. I could have really done with one right then.

Some bystanders helped out - one even had a neck brace in his car which he insisted that I wear until the ambulance showed up. Once the ambulance got there, they didn't mess around - I was strapped straightaway onto a board, loaded onto a gurney and rushed to the hospital. At the hospital they asked about my injuries, so I told them I couldn't lift my right arm without a lot of pain ( I couldn't even let it hang it hurt so bad). Someone called my wife right about then. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like, knowing your hubby had gone to work on a motorcycle and then getting a phone call from a hospital ER that your husband had been admitted. "Oh, and by the way, could you please bring another set of pants? We had to cut his off of him..."

So, they X-rayed my spine, pronounced me fit to leave, and raised an eyebrow when I begged them for a sling. The next day, I went to my doctor, who realized I had separated my shoulder. The hospital called me a couple of days later, saying they had noticed a discrepancy with the X-ray at my right shoulder. Uh, yeah, thanks, it was separated.

What happened to the bike? Well a few days later, my father-in-law and I went to the yard to pick it up. It was pretty jacked up and needed a fair bit of work. My wife was not thrilled about me getting back on the horse, and we were broke, so I gave it to my friend Will (I still owed him for breaking a window at his house, so I gave him the bike and we called it quits).

I was very lucky that I hadn't been seriously injured, and was going to be a father, so I made a decision, and I stopped riding.

1982 KZ 550 LTD. Mine was blue like this, though by the time I was done, I had had the tank and side panels repainted dark metallic green. I always thought it was a good-looking bike, but looking at it now, damn that's a big seat!

1989 EX500. Mine was a pearl-white beauty just like this one. Ain't she pretty?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

I want to write a few things about my wife. We've been married for over 8 years now, and my love for her is as strong now as the day I said my vows. Of all aspects of my life, in this I am the most fortunate. When I look around and see the trainwrecks that pass for other people's love lives, it just reminds me that what my wife and I have is very rare.
She is my lover and my best friend. I confide in her, I lean on her and look to her for support in everything I do. She's always been a rock for me.
She is my partner. We've come such a long way these last 8 years. We bought a house, brought two beautiful children into this world, shared experiences and made commitments. Always together.
She is my children's mother. We treat child raising as a partnership, as we do all of our life's undertakings, but in all reality, she must get the most credit for this. Her kindness, patience and love are the guiding influence in our children's lives.

I could ask for no better companion on my life's journey.

Oh, and did I mention that she's frikken hot too? Awww yeahh!

Happy Valentine's Day, Ju.


I came home the night before last to find the entrance to my street blocked off by cops. I went down a block and came up another way. The end of the street was taped off, and there were police everywhere. My neighbor (who always seems to know everything going on) told me a kid had been shot in the face right after school let out, right on the street corner. The school's pretty new, but ever since it opened up, there's been drama after school. My kids have a very dim view of "teenagers" based on the stuff they've seen - fistfights, large, loud crowds and the like. The cops are called regularly, but up till now didn't seem too interested with dealing with the problem (our city is, however, number one in California for traffic tickets) - it's too bad that things had to get to this point and a kid had to die. I'm saddened, but not really surprised. I can't think of anything worse than parents having to bury their child.