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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.


Sweetwater

I see I've missed a few days.  Haven't really been in the mood to post, I guess.  One neat thing happened last Thursday.  We had clients in the office for a sales presentation. Afterward, we all went across the street to Sweetwater Brewery.


It's a neat place, and another victory for the marketing of alcoholic beverages.  Full disclosure:  I like beer.  Even better, I like Sweetwater beer.  So I'm not exactly free from bias here.

They open the plant to visitors every Wednesday through Sunday afternoon.  Basically, every day except Monday and Tuesday.  You buy a tour ticket and it comes with a sweet pint glass like this:


They have maybe eight to ten (maybe more, I don't know) varieties of beer on tap, and you get a ticket good for six, 6-ounce pours to taste.  You also get a quick ten-minute tour of the brewery and a brief history of the company.  Yeah, I thought so. Let's get back to the beer.

Sweetwater sells itself as a "west coast" brewery on the east coast.  This means that their beers lean severely toward the ale side of things. They also sell ales, but even their beers are fairly bitter.  They have a limited number of beers that they offer full time.  All the rest of their brews are either seasonal (they're only produced at certain times of the year) or they're limited production, only produced in a small amount, and once they're gone, they're gone.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of their year-round brew called


It's nice and dark, richly flavored and not too bitter.  I had a beer on Thursday that I've never had before:


Their Mexican-style lager.  It was VERY good. Hard to describe, but tasty.

Overall, I like  their products.  They also sponsor various charity events here in town like 420 fest, which was founded 13 years ago as an Earth Day celebration:


And Second Helping, from which 100% of the profits are donated to The Giving Kitchen.


It's a responsibly-managed company that makes great products at competitive prices, and still finds time to give back to the community.  What's not to love?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tennis Update

I never did make it back to the Olympic tennis arena like I said I would. Other things got in the way.  It's odd how you can never seem to find the time to do the things you want to do, and then when you do have the time, it's too late.  I mean, I could go now, but it's nearly 9pm.  The sun is down, there would be nothing there but mosquitoes.   Instead, I just sit here drinking a drink and thinking a think.

Sometimes I wonder what makes people do, say, and think like they do.  I have a whole menagerie in the house at present. I have five dogs and two cats.  My oldest dog, a big, beautiful German Shepherd Dog with a heart the size of Texas is getting older.  It's harder for her to get up and walk around. It's nearly impossible for her to make the four steps up from outside into the house.  It's her hips.  They're just not as strong as they used to be.

I was finally talked into buying her a bed.  I was told that a particular website had dog beds for sixteen dollars - not a huge sum.  I went and looked and the sixteen-dollar beds were all for tiny dogs like Chihuahuas or Pomeranians.   I need a bed for a BIG DOG!  All the jumbo beds were forty to sixty dollars.  I found one on Amazon for $26, and said as much.  I was told again, in no uncertain terms that the dog bed was only sixteen dollars.  She actually looked it up as if to prove me wrong.

(Tip - I am NEVER wrong.)

She found the sixteen dollar dog bed, and held it out to me in triumph.  I said, "Okay, now look one up in the right size..."

I went ahead and ordered the bed off Amazon.  Two, actually - one for each German Shepherd.  The little dogs don't need a bed - they sleep in people beds anyway.

Gratuitous photo of my big girls, back when they were both healthy and full of energy:


Mama and daughter were both chasing after the same stick.  Mama won, as she usually did.  She still wins, but now it's because daughter lets her win.  Pretty soon, it's just going to be me and my girl:



I was there when she was born - I delivered her.  No, really... she got stuck and I had to pull her out.  Lord willing, I'll be around until she's old and her hips go bad as well.  It's going to break my heart when she passes away.  She's my best friend. My only friend, really.  She always has my back. She's always there when I need her.  More than I can say for the people in my life.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Booze!

I'm realizing that there just isn't very much about my life that's all that interesting.

Seriously.

I'm at a loss about what to post today.  I already skipped yesterday, completely by accident.  I just didn't think about it.  So in keeping with the whole "not thinking about a lot of stuff" theme, I've decided to write about something that I really like:


Let me preface this with the statement, "I am NOT an alcoholic."  I can go without booze.   I just choose not to.  Booze is one of God's best inventions. Fruit, in the right circumstances turns to booze all by itself.  It's OBVIOUS that God wants to have booze.  No lesser a personage than Ben Franklin stated, "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."  If it's good enough for one of America's most prolific inventors and Founding Fathers, it's good enough for me.

I tend to be more of a whiskey drinker than anything else.  I prefer a hallowed American invention:  Bourbon.

Bourbon is truly an American spirit.  There are laws, fine and ancient, governing exactly how a whiskey must be distilled in order to bear the name bourbon.  In order to be called "bourbon", a spirit must be:

  • Produced in the United States
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
  • Aged in new, charred oak containers
  • Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)
  • Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)
  • Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)

My go-to bourbon is Maker's Mark.  It's a fine, mid-priced drink that is very consistent from batch to batch.  



Another go-to is Knob Creek.  


It should be noted that these come in different varieties, different ages, different strengths.  You'll have to experiment with them all to see what suits you.  Bourbons have very distinctive flavors and aromas, but they all have certain characteristics in common.  The smokiness, the heartiness, the dark flavor and satisfying finish... all let you know that you're drinking a man's drink and not some poofterish brandy or cognac.  

At the moment, I'm drinking a spirit called Tin Cup.
Okay, it's obviously meant to be a marketing gimmick and not necessarily a genuine drinker's drink. It's even got a tin cup for a cap, for God's sake.  But marketing gimmicks aside, it's not bad.  It's not a bourbon, nor is it a rye, nor is it a Scotch or anything else than I can discern from the flavor.  Poured over ice, it has a flavor that combines a nice dark and smokey bourbon with a hint of spicy rye, and some other flavors that I just can't put a name to.  It's mellow, and flavorful, and most important, it gets one drunk.  And that's the goal, after all.  A little bit drunk, or roaring drunk, it all depends on the drinker's mood.  And I'm in the mood for some quiet contemplation.

A little Tin Cup is helping.

Sláinte!