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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wow, it's been a long time.

I just realized how long it's been since I posted last.  Been busy just living life.  I guess when you have a busy life, and you're into a variety of other things, you don't have as much time to sit and reminisce.

One of the things that's been keeping me busy is this photography course I've been taking.  It's a ten-week course, for beginning photographers.  I'm not exactly a beginner, but I've never had any real professional instruction, either.  The instructor is a professional photographer that teaches classes like this in his spare time. 

Steve Shaefer

Each week, we go over a different aspect of photography, and we have an assignment to carry out.  We have to take photos that fit the theme of the class, and then we critique them the following week.  I'll try and go over the lessons we were taught.  The first week, we learned the basic function of the camera.  We talked about things like shutter speed, aperture, lens focal length, and how they all affect the actual photo.  The assignment was macro photography.  We all had some in-class time to practice getting really close to whatever objects were close in the room, and shooting them.  Then, we all went home and did some of our own macro shoots.  Here are some of mine:







I think, for the most part, they came out really well.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I was surfing through some random websites and I came across a site with stories of people being nude in public.  Personally, I think it should be legal, as long as your behavior isn't endangering anyone or being a health risk to others.  I don't even care about offending people because you know what?  People who go through life looking to be offended are going to be offended by something, no matter how trivial or trite.  I was reminded of something I did years ago.  

I was all alone in the house.  I lived on a large amount of land - you couldn't even see my house from the road except for a small area directly at the end of the driveway.  

View from the street.  When we lived there, we had no gate across the driveway.

It was very secluded, and if I was going to be doing something dirty and not dangerous, I loved doing it in the nude because:

A.  I knew that there was almost no chance of someone seeing me.
B.  When I was done, I could just jump in the shower and clean up.

Since I was alone, I was out enjoying the sunshine.  Not doing anything, just sitting, and being at peace.  I saw what I thought was a fox down near the middle of the driveway.  We had seen foxes and even coyotes before; our dogs always chased them off.  The dogs were inside, though, and I wanted to see if I could get some nice pics of the fox.  I got up, trying to be stealthy, and sneaked down the drive.  He heard me coming, though, and ran off.  It was then that I noticed how close I was to the street and I decided to see how much closer I could get before my nerves failed me.

I sneaked even closer.  I don't know why I was trying to be sneaky - there was nobody within a few hundred yards who could have heard me, it just seemed the thing to do.  I got almost to the end, and had to stop because my heart was thumping so.

 
I'm only ten or twenty yards from the street at this point.
I heard a soft whirring noise, growing louder.  A car was coming.  My heart started thumping louder.  I had no idea who was coming, or how fast they were going.  I did know, however, that when you're driving down this road, you really have to pay attention to what you're doing.  There are too many twists and turns; if you're not watching the road, you'll end up in the ditch.  Because of that, I felt there was little or no chance of being spotted.  And as far as I know, I was right.

The car just "whooshed" on past.
The car just sped on by, probably not even knowing that I was there.  I stood still for a few long minutes, while my heart steadied and my breathing calmed.  No more cars drove by.  I wanted to go further. Not for any particular purpose other than just to say that I did.  I listened closely for cars, bicyclists, people on horseback, random backpackers... I heard nobody.  I crept further.  Finally, I just told myself to go ahead and get it over with.  I strode cautiously out to the road.  I felt like my head was on a swivel, constantly turning to and fro.  I was keenly aware of the breeze as it ruffled through the leaves, the bird noises, small animals scurrying in the underbrush.  It seemed to take hours, in reality it was only a few seconds.  I was at the road!

Luckily nobody appeared.
I don't know how long I dared to stand there, looking around.  It could have only been a few seconds.  In a short while, I thought I was tempting fate and turned back, returning to the safety of the wooded yard.  Sometimes, I think of that day.  Not often. It takes something to remind me of it.  It was a good day.  It was a peaceful day.  When I think of it, I wish I could re-live it.  I don't think there's ever been a day when I've been as much at peace since.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I've been having an interesting time.

I know, I haven't posted in a while.

Life gets in the way.  If you have a life, it does at any rate.  Work is workfull, to the point that when I get home, I just want to sit, say "fuck it", and have a drink.  I just had to post this today.

I found a new soul-mate - well, I wish.  I'm pretty sure she's spoken for.  I only stumbled upon her YouTube channel by accident.  She's bright, pretty, well-spoken, and I think that she's pretty level-headed.  She holds mostly conservative values, going against family, friends, and peer pressure.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Candace Owens, aka Red Pill Black Girl.




She's one of those rare individuals that seems to operate mostly on common sense and figuring shit out rather than just relying on what the people around her are telling her.  She calls the media out (which is spot on) for pushing phony narratives just to stir people up.  She doesn't rely on the news outlets to tell her what to believe - she finds out what the facts are and makes up her own mind on what to believe.

Damn, but that's an admirable trait.

Years ago, I had some friends tell me to start listening to Rush Limbaugh.  "He's fantastic!" they said.  "He tells it like it is!" then went on to say.  They gushed about how he was saying everythign they would have said, if they had the wit to say it.  So I said, Sure, I'll give him a shot.

On my first day of listening, Rush went on a diatribe about something, I don't remember what.  But he's got an interesting way about him.  He'll play a sound bite, somebody giving a speech, relaying talking points, then he'll abruptly shut off the playback and say, "Now let me tell you what he really said..."   Then he'll proceed to twist the person's words around until they mean the exact opposite of what they said.  The  capper for me was when Rush said (paraphrased),  "You don't have to listen to all these speeches - I listen to them for you.  You don't have to think for yourselves, I'll do the thinking for you.  You don't have to worry about making up your own mind, I'll tell you want to think..."

He lost me.  I prefer to make up my OWN damn mind, thanks.  And apparently this is a trait that the beautiful Ms. Owens and I have in common.  Damn, I'd love to meet her.  Sure, I know that she'd have nothing to do with me, but hey... a man can dream, can't he?


TTFN...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Erin Smith: Gun Hero of the Day

Excerpts taken from The Truth About Guns.

The one website that I frequent most by far is a firearm-related website:  www.ar15.com.  It was originally started as a bulletin board focusing on the AR-15 style rifle.  It has since morphed into something else.  It's a community.  A town.  It has its town cops, its town leaders, even its town drunks.  But mostly, it has its members - a strange bunch of men and women that mostly bond together over their love of, or fascination with, firearms.  Not only AR-15s, mind you - there are sections now for all kinds of guns.  But it's still AR-15.com.  Familiarly known by its members as "arfcom."

One of those members is a woman named Erin Smith.  Her avatar photo is of her, dressed up as a sexy pirate.  She's fended off many attempts and offers from newcomers to the site, and it's understandable why: Whether as a pirate, or in her normal attire, Erin is quite a fetching person.



 For the longest time, Erin kept quite a secret.  I don't know what finally made her reveal this secret - I've never met her, and she's never opened her inner being to me - but what a secret it was.  When she finally did tell it, it caused quite a commotion on arfcom.

Erin was born a man.

Since she came out, she's faced both praise and ridicule, scorn and respect.  It can't be easy being a transgender person in a community filled with conservative, right-wing, mostly Christian rednecks.  But Erin has a bravery that I don't think I could ever match.

Let's let her tell it in her own words:

         To be a gun-owning, conservative trans woman living in the leftist mecca of San Francisco is to exist as an apparent contradiction, and the incredulous reactions I get whenever I find myself discussing politics are an endless reminder of that fact.
          How can I stand with people that seek to interfere with my life by denying me legal recognition and enshrining discrimination? That fight to keep me from using the correct bathroom? That seem to ignore my inherent worth as a person?
          These are just some of the queries I have fielded, and to be frank in the beginning they actually sounded halfway reasonable and originating from legitimate concern. And while my political compass has always pointed right, I will freely admit the needle occasionally wavered when I pondered these things.
                But living in a swirling nexus of ever-intensifying leftist political violence has exposed the deceit, and watching right-leaning friends be assaulted while attending political rallies, some shunned by their social circles, and others cowed from openly expressing even moderately diverging opinions has only intensified my feelings.  

          
          It quickly became clear that Leftist talking points aimed at my demographic only tempt when stripped of context, and a more holistic view illuminated their moral hollowness and intellectual bankruptcy.
          The Left warns us of bigoted evangelicals, while excusing Islamic radicals and ignoring transphobic rhetoric from radical feminists.
          They promise bathrooms and baked cakes, and destroy property rights and objective law. They give tolerance and preferred pronouns, and crush dialogue and muzzle free expression. They tell us “our body our choice,” then seek to deny us the means to protect either the body or the choice. They demand our pistols in exchange for platitudes, then have the audacity to feel entitled to our vote.
          I won’t try to pretend the Right is perfect, because it isn’t. But in my case there’s been a surprising open-mindedness and intrinsic recognition of my individuality that I’ve never consistently seen from the Left, manifested from people and places I never expected like the gun community.
          As a regular student in firearms training classes and a member of several gun-centric discussion forums, I’m fully aware the gun community has a decided rightward tilt.
          That fact, combined with Leftist rhetoric about the endemic intolerance I could expect if I tried to live openly, left me briefly considering just walking away instead of risking the vitriol.
          But I decided to stay, partly due to pure stubbornness , but also a suspicion the apparent hostility on the Right was mostly reactionary.
          What I quickly noticed was the manner conservatives responded when approached with a modicum of courtesy and respect. Sure there were a sprinkling of obnoxious reactions, but most were more than happy to reciprocate; many in fact later admitted my calm and measured responses to the haters as being a huge factor in changing their minds.
          But even with the ones that told me they didn’t agree with my transition, they often were at least courteous about disagreeing, along with freely admitting I had the right to do it.
          In the end, what I appreciated most was the fact the positive reactions had to be real; there was nothing for them to gain by being supportive, no frowning SJW to avoid, ready to shriek at the slightest breach of the Narrative.
          They were seeing me as a complex individual with many facets, and even if there might be one or two aspects they disagreed with, they were more than willing to overlook them in favor of the majority they respected.
          I contrast with the Left, where multiple times I’ve witnessed even a minor digression from orthodoxy suffice to be cast into outer darkness. In hindsight, so much I was told ended up being posture and artifice.
          This experience is exemplified by my recent experience at a Portland free speech rally. We departed the event location in a group for protection from Antifa violence, but they still followed us hurling insults and threats.
          The scene was actually bizarre and illuminating; a racially mixed group of free speech advocates, with two transgender members and multiple blacks, hispanics, and at least one Samoan, stalked and subjected to loud accusations of being white supremacists and Nazis by a masked and menacing, almost exclusively white group uniformly dressed in black. They gave no indication they comprehended the irony.
          To sum it up, neither side is perfect for me. But there’s only one side that displays concern for the Western civilization that makes my current life and very existence possible, supports my right to access tools to protect myself, and doesn’t seem interested in using political violence to trap me on their voting plantation, humanity and individuality denied me and reduced to a posing dummy. That’s really no choice at all.

I'm proud to say that I know her, even across a divide as great as the entire internet.  She's a fine reflection on what it means to be a gun owner, to be a great role model, and to be, above all else, American.  Some would confine her to a mental hospital to "cure" her of her "sickness".  Others would order her jailed until she decides that she no longer wants to be "a disturbance".   Followers of Islam would hurl her off the top of a tall building or burn her alive in a cage filled with gasoline.  Many Christians would want to see her cast out from society, a pariah.  
Me - I want to buy her a beer, and give her my thanks.  I'd thank her for being honest about who she is.  I'd thank her for standing up to her oppressors and detractors.  I'd thank her for telling the world that there's room in the firearms world for everyone - no matter what color, or gender, or sexual orientation you are.  And I'd hope that some little bit of her courage rubbed off on me.  We could all stand to be a little more like her.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I can't touch the sun.




Jesus, I just cried.  What the fuck?



Update on the tennis stadium.

I guess I'm too late.

Demolition of Gwinnett’s derelict Olympic tennis venue starts today


The demolition of Gwinnett County’s derelict Olympic tennis venue will begin this afternoon — at least in a ceremonial sense.
Officials from the county, the Evermore Community Improvement District and the Stone Mountain Memorial Association will gather Tuesday afternoon at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center, the arena that’s fallen into disrepair since being built and used for Atlanta’s 1996 Summer Olympics.
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dinner!

Two post in one day!  Holy shit!

I wasn't planning to write about the meal that I just made, and ate.  I had assumed that it was going to be "just another Sunday dinner."  But as I sit here, completely sated and slightly buzzed, I feel like I just HAVE to share.  It should be noted that because I had no plans to write about the meal, none of the accompanying photos are mine.  I didn't take photos, because I had no plans on publishing any photos.

This dinner, though, was just too good.

I made ribs tonight.  God, it sounds so simple.  "I made ribs", like "the sun rose," or "the tornado completely wiped out the small Kansas town."

I made ribs.


It's actually not as hard as it seems.  Lots of people make a huge deal out of this American BBQ staple.  I find it to be one of the simpler meats to cook.  All it takes is time and patience.  ("Patience," I'm afraid, is something many Americans find in short supply.)  The first step is making good ribs is to remove the thin, though membrane on the underside.  Luckily, most American grocers understand this and they remove the membrane for you.

I've heard of lots of different ways to cook ribs.  Some guys insist that you have to marinate them overnight.  One guy I knew insisted that he had to boil the ribs in beer for an hour before cooking them, or they would just be ruined.  I don't hold with any of those high falutin' notions.  Here's how I cook my ribs:

Take one (or more) racks of ribs, and dust both sides with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Almost as an afterthought, dust the top side with some paprika, and (if you like a little spice in your meat) some cayenne pepper.  I suppose I could just write "season to taste" here, and it would be just as meaningful.  Pre-heat your oven to three hundred degrees Fahrenheit.  That's about 150 C for people who use Celsius.  (I tried using Celsius once - didn't work out so now I want no truck with it.)  Line the bottom of a shallow baking pan with foil - it isn't really necessary, but it makes clean-up a helluva lot easier.  Place the ribs on a rack in the roasting pan, and place them in the oven.  Walk away.  This is the most important part.  Walk. The. Fuck. Away. You have to know when to walk the fuck away and not fuck around looking at the meat every few minutes.  The meat is just fine. It hasn't gone anywhere. It's still right there in the oven, right where you left it.  Go have some bourbon or something.  You'll thank me later.

Come back in two and a half hours.  I promise - the ribs will still be there.  Here's the tricky part:  Saucing the ribs.  Ready?  Dump some sauce on those bastards.  I don't care what kind you use. Whatever kind tastes good to you.  Tonight, I was in kind of a devil-may-care kind of mood, so half my ribs I sauced with a Caribbean Jerk-flavored BBQ sauce.  The other half I sauced with my traditional Kraft Hickory-brand BBQ sauce.  If you have a store-bought BBQ sauce that you like, use it.  Dump it on.  Slather it on.  Ladle it on.  However you like it.  I know some people that like to eat my ribs with no sauce at all, which is why I spend time with all the seasonings in the beginning stages.  Me, I like a little sauce on my ribs.  Throw them bad boys back in the oven for another half an hour.  By the time you take them out, they'll look just like the picture above.  Meaty, juicy, and delicious, with either zero fat left or just a tiny little bit of fat left.  Just the way I like them.


To go with the ribs, I like a rice and beans kind of meal. Normally, I make Jasmine rice and some black-eyed peas, but like I said, I was feeling kind of saucy today, so I went with something different.  While I was at the store buying the ribs, I also bout two packs of Vigo Black Beans and Rice.

"Authentic Cuban Recipe" my ass.  I've had Cuban black beans and rice, and this isn't even close.  It's good though.

This is what "authentic" looks like:

I also steamed some carrots - no photo because you all know what steamed carrots look like.  I made some biscuits to go with it as well.  Store-bought biscuits - I didn't make them from scratch.  Store-bought is just as good as my own biscuits.  I don't know what it is, but I guess i'm just not a very good biscuit maker.


I also broke down and bought some wine to go with the dinner:


Beringer White Zinfandel is one of those wines with a consistent flavor, year to year. It's relatively sweet, which counteracts the slight spicyness of the ribs really well.  It's also one of those wines that everyone in the house (all the wine drinkers, at any rate) will drink.  I like a wide variety of wines.  My daughter is almost as adventurous as I am when it comes to wine.  My ex-wife is just the opposite.  She only likes a few different brands, and they're all the same as this Beringer.  So if I'm buying wine for all, this is one of my go-to wines.  It doesn't hurt that it's an inexpensive table wine, and it goes well with a good variety of poultry, fish, and as it happens, BBQ ribs.  Wheeeeeeee!

For dessert, I made muffins.  Like this.


I get these mixes, 10 for ten dollars.  Each one makes four or five muffins, depending on how full you fill the paper muffin cups.  Here's how they look when they're done:



So tonight, I fed my daughter, my other daughter, five of my grand-children, and my ex-wife, all for twenty-one dollars.  And myself, of course.  And it was a good time.  We sat around the big table, ate, talked, laughed, ate, drank, laughed some more...

For a brief moment in time, everything in the world was in its good and proper place.  These moments come far too seldom.  You have to treasure them.