Fifteen Years

In college I met this gal in the music department. She seemed to get along with my friends.

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She and I got along famously. I found her quite irresistible.

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When we got married, I was a skinny kid with red, flowing hair. I wore platform shoes with my tux because I was self-conscious about my height. I put on another few inches over the next few years.

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I got a dog-in-law. She was a really good rottweiler. We’d like to have another large breed when we have room for it.

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I was driving a tricked-out 1983 Honda Civic station wagon. It was the prettiest example of the model. I miss that car.

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Obviously, they decorated it for us during the service. Jennifer told me that her dog didn’t like the guys she had dated previously. I didn’t seem to have that problem.

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We drove everywhere in that little car. Do you know how long it takes to get from Oklahoma City to Sacramento, then to San Fransisco and into Yosemite? I do. The odometer rolled across the 200,000-mile mark on that trip.

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Of course we had our differences and our struggles, but you would have never known it from the outside looking in.

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We enjoyed life and had a lot of fun.

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And, we were in love.

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That was probably pretty obvious though.

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For our five-year anniversary, we scrimped and saved and I took her to the swankiest restaurant in town. We got dressed up for the occasion and I had everything planned out in advance. It was prefect.

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Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted, but we always tried to keep eyes on each other.

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To have fun together, and grow old together.

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So we kept having fun together, and we kept growing together.

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For our ten-year anniversary we had a private restatement of vows and then had a two-person range session with our rifles.

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As of today, we’ve been married for fifteen years. And, what are we doing now?

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We’re basically having fun and being goofy together, just like always.

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And, it’s getting better all the time.

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We have a fifteen-year-old bottle of our favorite wine on the rack (a Spenker Zinvandel), and a package of smoked salmon. Maybe we’ll celebrate low-key this evening.

Happy anniversary, Jennifer! I love you.

An Open Letter to Grandma

Grandpa was so angry at my parents and aunt when they took his keys away. As you have recently said, he loved his little truck. Jennifer and I got it started on Saturday, and it has quickly become a part of our family. There was a wire coming from the starter relay that had a little over an inch missing. There were rodent droppings near the location, and I suspect something ate that piece of wire. I had my brother solder in a piece of wire to replace it, and it starts again. The engine was a quart or so low on oil, and I topped it up. The tires were running at 10 psi, and I aired them up to 35.

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As much as I love Grandpa’s truck, I think that Jennifer might love it even more. She drove it to her chiropractor appointment yesterday, and then she drove it to work this morning. When we borrowed the truck for a week last year when I rebuilt our Sentra, she wasn’t strong enough to man-handle the manual steering. She’s come a long way since then. Since Saturday, the little truck has been out to the farm already, and we’ve knocked the carbon off the valves.

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We are planning to replace the bent body panels and missing driver’s side door handle. I’m not done wrenching on it and hope to get that odd starter issue ironed out. I’ve been looking for a used camper shell. I’d really like to build a platform that will stand 12 to 14 inches off the floor of the bed, that we can store stuff under and put an air mattress on top of it for when we camp. Once we have straight sheet metal and a bed cover on it, I’m thinking of painting the whole thing in bedliner. I don’t have a problem with the classic red, but the paint is quite worn, and I don’t presume that I’ll be able to color match the replacement body panels. I got a copy of the key, and Jennifer put the key on a miniature Bible keychain. That seems fitting.

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I did a major cleaning on the interiors of both the car and truck yesterday. I chuckled at the various tools, gloves and rope that were scattered about the cab, so indicative of Grandpa. A couple lengths of rope were uselessly short, so they went to the garbage. I lovingly coiled up the rest of them and placed them behind the seat. There were a lot of candy wrappers in the cab. I had no idea that Grandpa had a sweet tooth. In the ash tray I found some folded papers. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be three used targets, evidently shot with .22 caliber lead. Did Grandpa have some range sessions in his twilight years? If so, I wish he had invited me to join in.

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We will cherish Grandpa’s pickup. I didn’t realize how badly I miss him until organizing his truck. He did love his little truck, and it was worthy of his affections. It is proving to be a real blessing to us in its utility, but it’s also wonderful to have it around as a reminder of the man who owned it before.

Couldn’t Have Said It better…

Jennifer wrote a post addressing the death of my paternal grandfather this last weekend. As she said, he wasn’t supposed to make it past thirty, and he managed to more than triple that expectancy. He followed his heart and followed God through life and passed away in peace. He should be remembered as an inspiration to us all. Thanks to all of you who have already offered your condolences, and thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

KTKC – That’s My Final Offer

Alright people, I’m in a pretty solid third place right now, not too far behind Stingray. JayG has handily whupped the lot of us in this deal. I told you that you’d get catsuit videos if I made first place. That goal seems loftier and loftier as we head towards the finish. So, how about this: If you put me in second place, we’ll still do the video of Jennifer in PVC with the M82A1. As of this writing, that’s less than $500. However, if we get our Christmas miracle and I finish in first place, not only will we do the Jen in PVC video, but at Blogorado, at the Sooper Sekrit Raynge, I’ll shoot in drag. Forget the kilt, I will put on a skirt or a dress, or something pretty. :P There will be photos. There will be video. It will be hilarious. We are close to the end, but this thing is not over yet. You can help by donating here. The donation website has been acting a little overloaded the last few days. Probably a good thing. If it’s giving you trouble, please be patient and try to reload it. Thanks again!

September 11

Of course I will never forget. Although, April 19, 1995 was far closer to home; and September 11, 2001 had me feeling “Oh no, not again.” The images on the television and the reports on the radio were eerily reminiscent of the bombing in Oklahoma City. I lost friends in the 1995 bombing though. I had close friends that lost family, and in fact, I provided much comfort to one dear friend who lost a father. My beloved wife, who I had not yet met, was entirely too close to that explosion.

And yet, life does go on. Things happen and scars fade. Years ago, everything I hold dear was threatened and I was helpless to an onslaught that I dare not detail in these pages. Oh September 11, 2004, the nightmare ended. It wasn’t the lid on the coffin so much as the light at the end of the tunnel. After personal events in 2004, September 11 has ceased to be a day of mourning to me, and has instead become a day of hope and joy, of new life and thankfulness. My heart and sympathy go out to all of those who carry deeper scars from that perilous anniversary than I do. I will always remember the hurt, the injured, the killed, their families and loved ones, and the rescue workers that sacrificed themselves to save others.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

However, to me, September 11 will always be a day of celebration and victory, for personal reasons and in the broader, because the tragedy brought out the best of what Americans have to offer: Bravery, selflessness, empathy, and love. We showed the world that we will not be brought down by even the most brutal of attacks. On the contrary, it only made us stronger. I have much regard for the fallen, but I choose to honor the brave, and I choose to be thankful for the blessings I’ve been granted.

In remembrance this evening I plan to eat grilled pork, drink alcohol, and hug and kiss my wife and son, and thank God for all that He’s given me. I will also say a prayer for all those who have been affected by terrorism, but I choose to focus on the positive and not the negative. God bless our liberty, God bless our families, and God bless America.

Hunting Redux

Unless this is your first time to visit my blog, you have probably read that Jen and I are starting to hunt. When we went out to the farm last Saturday, I had this idea that we would sit there for a couple of hours, shoot an animal, process it, and then take it home. When that didn’t happen, we largely regarded it as a failed hunt. Since then, I’ve begun to think differently about it.

We set up our bait on Friday and returned to hunt on Saturday morning. Not only did we not see any hogs, we also saw no sign that our bait had been noticed by them. This was curious and noteworthy for certain, if not a little discouraging. Still, we’d seen so much sign of them that it seemed improbable that they would simply turn their snouts up at our offerings. So, when Jennifer got home from work on Monday we loaded up the car and drove out to do some more scouting. It’s usually about a thirty to forty five minute drive, it’s about a ten minute walk into the baited area from there, sunset is at 6:00, and Jennifer gets home around 5:00. We brought rifles with us, but thought it was unlikely that we’d actually get to shoot anything.

The pigs still had not rooted out the corn and stuff that was underground, but had pretty well cleaned up all the surface bait that we left in our primary location. When we made it to our secondary, it was a similar story, with the bait even more thoroughly gone through. And, I swear I heard oinks and grunts from the woods at the second location. We had to check the bait by flashlight, as it was after sunset and starting to get dark. This gave us a renewed charge. Our hog hunt had not been a failure after all, as it turns out we just aren’t done yet.

I’m not sure when we’ll make it out next, but we do plan on keeping both bait stations maintained. I figure that if they know that they can expect a supply of corn and treats in those two locations, they’ll keep coming back. Eventually, they’ll get shot. In other news, squirrel season just closed with us collecting but one. It did make a nice dinner though. I’m pretty sure Jennifer will post pics on her blog of it on the grill. I don’t think that anyone enjoyed the grilled squirrel more than Wee Bot. I know he’ll be looking forward to the next time we have tree rats. Also, we located another clear cougar track and attempted to photograph it with a cell phone, but the pic didn’t come out very well. As in, you can’t really tell that there’s a print of any kind in the photo. Yeah, I really want one of these! They cost about half of what they were last time I looked at them, and I’ve got a birthday coming up in about seven months. :P

Close Encounter in the Woods

Last night, Jennifer posted about our foray into hog hunting. We were originally intending to go with Daniel S, but that fell through at the last minute due to work constraints. I’m sure we’ll catch up with him at a later date. Jennifer tells about us sitting in the dark, waiting for the legal time to start shooting and waiting for the pigs to explore the bait we left out for them.

The property where we hunted is a family farm, and there is a small tree blind permanently mounted on the premises. The original assumption was that we were going to set up in this tree blind. When we scouted on Friday, I climbed the blind to inspect it. Not. Gonna. Happen. The dilapidated 2×4 construction is approximately 3.5-feet long and maybe 18-inches wide, missing several boards, and has a ‘hand rail’ consisting of a young, green branch tacked to two trees with a few nails and some twine. Although the whole thing is probably no more than nine feet in the air, it ticked my acrophobia all over the place and felt more like fifty feet. So for better or for worse, we decided to set up in the brush underneath the tree blind (I really hate irrational fears).

We arrived at our location on Saturday morning and were set up and waiting by 6:00. We had a pint-sized thermos full of espresso and a quart-sized thermos full of apple cider. We had each brought our M4geries, loaded up with high-dollar ammo in special magazines, and we each had a .22 rifle as well, in case of small game. So, there we sat in the dark with our rifles, warm drinks, and nature. We quietly whispered to each other from time to time, but mostly sat quietly listening to the stillness around us. You ever get that feeling you’re being watched? Has that feeling ever caused some level of small panic? Sometime between cups of coffee, the feeling hit us and the hair stood up on my neck. It was about 6:30 when we heard movement in the brush to our left. It had to be around fifteen yards out, moving slowly. We could hear each deliberate footstep crackling in the leaves and pushing twigs aside. It was a dark and moonless prior to sunrise, and nothing was visible through the brush in the ambient light. When we attempted to use our flashlights, the brush was thick enough that the subsequent glare completely obscured what was behind or within it. When lit, the animal would remain still and wait for us to turn the lights off. After a few seconds, we would hear it creep again. It circled around behind us, where the road is, and slowly approached us, coming down the foot trail that we had come down earlier. Again, we attempted to light it, but could not see the animal. For the record, if I had seen Bigfoot on my first hunting trip out in the woods, I wouldn’t tell anybody. Eventually, the animal’s curiosity was satiated, or it decided that we weren’t all that interesting, or it decided that we didn’t look like we were worth the effort for breakfast. One way or another, it left the way it came, and slinked into the adjacent wood.

A couple hours later, after we had discovered that our ‘blind’ was not in the least concealed or even construed by the surrounding brush, and had been staring at our unnoticed bait for some time, and finished off some ten shots of espresso and some now cool cider, nature called. I quietly whispered to Jennifer that I was going to walk up the trail a little way and shed some coffee. I slowly and quietly made my way up the foot trail, looking for tracks to attempt to identify whatever had checked us out earlier. I didn’t see anything but boot prints from the two of us on the foot trail. Then I got up to the road and found fresh tracks. They were cat tracks, and they were in excess of four inches wide! They were wider than the tread on my boot, and sunk a good 3/8-inch into the soil at least. It’s fair to say that the animal was into the 200′s-lb range, judging only by the impression in the earth. “Oh holy *expletive*!” That’s what Jennifer heard from my position. We had come out to stalk and yet had become the stalked.

I knew that there were lions on the property, as I’ve seen their tracks of various sizes. This was by far the biggest of them to date. That makes about the fourth one, assuming that there aren’t any that are identically sized. It makes me wonder if we’re seeing a mother and her maturing cubs. Rumor has it that the young will stay with the mother for a couple of years. What’s really sad about our Saturday morning encounter though – I carry a tape measure in my pocket and there’s a 5-megapixel camera built into my phone, and I still didn’t think of taking any pics. *Sigh.* As much cougar activity as we’ve seen, I’m sure this won’t be the last encounter we have with the big cats.

I’m astounded at the proliferation of wildlife on the family property in recent years. When I was younger, it used to be the standard fare of birds, with a few deer and a den of coyotes. Once we found a boar skull, but there was no additional evidence of hogs at the time. The coyote population has obviously thinned out, possibly driven out by the cougars? Recently though, we’ve seen massive amounts of hoof marks, both pig and deer. There have been the distinct prints of a few coyotes, but not nearly like they used to be, smaller canine (possibly foxes?), and bobcats in addition to the aforementioned cougars. We saw what we are pretty sure were opossum and skunk tracks as well.

There are certain supplies that I really want on hand next time around. I’m actually starting a grocery list on my phone devoted to hunting supplies. I know that we’re going to be many hunting trips in before I actually feel like we’ve got most of what we’ll need – that’s just the way it seems to work. And so, we didn’t shoot anything this time. We still had fun. What’s fun about getting stalked by lions in the freezing dark for so long that your legs go to sleep? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to do it again!

Squirrel!

Yesterday, Jenni and I took steps to go further down the rabbit hole of gunniness. Neither of us have ever been hunting. I dispatched an errant rabbit once, but that was about the extent of my animal harvesting experience. The rabbit got hit with a 25-grain .22 CB Cap. The slug went in in front of the left shoulder and exited behind the right. The lungs were liquified and death instantaneous.

We had been scouting squirrel activity in a particular Sooper Sekrit location for months. Yesterday, Jenni and I woke up early (for a Saturday), gathered guns and ammo, swung by Academy to pick up our Resident Annual Hunting Licenses and continued on to said location. It was easily below freezing and the tree rats were not very active. Our boots and socks proved not to be sufficient insulation. However, I had some chemical toe warmers in my BOB that we employed. It ALWAYS pays to be prepared.

We saw only three or four large squirrels in the trees, but didn’t have much of a shot at any of them. Until one large female approached us towards noon. Jenni nearly got her several times with no success. It was not that she took a missing shot either. It was that the squirrel moved into a less shootable position before the trigger broke. It was when I had her sighted in that she stretched out and presented her left side, as though she heard a noise coming from that direction. I cracked the shot off. The animal sprung two feet straight up and collapsed into the brush below.

“Nice!” said Jenni. When we collected the game, we could not immediately see the injury. She looked so pristine in fact, that I put another shot into the base of her skull from point blank just to be sure. It wasn’t until we started skinning her that the initial shot was obvious. The shot went in just in front of the left shoulder and stopped at the lower rib cage on the right side. Lungs were liquified, death instantaneous. I don’t know why people complain about having to chase small game after the shot. Just destroy the lungs so you don’t have to worry about it! :P Honestly, if every hunting shot I take is so ideal, I’ll be shocked and feel very lucky.

The shot was at approximately 40-yards with a Winchester M69A (.22-lr bolt action), with a 26-inch barrel and a Lyman micrometer peep sight. I was shooting CCI .22 CB Caps again. This combination is so whisper quiet that hearing protection is laughably unnecessary. In fact, this is quickly becoming my hunting caliber of choice. It’s quiet, it’ accurate, and it’s devastatingly deadly. The animal was about 24-inches long from nose to the tip of the tail.

We skinned and processed it into meat before the carcass was cold, saving the heart (still intact), liver, and kidneys. I’m drying the tail as a trophy, Jenni is tanning the pelt, and I placed the head and paws on my brother’s front porch as a prank. He didn’t appreciate my humor, so I cleaned it up later because I felt bad.

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Observations:
*I wish we had been able to take ten squirrels each, but it was not meant to be on this trip.
*Now, I want to shoot something bigger. I can’t wait until DanielS comes for our feral hog shoot. I hope I get a 500-lb sow! -But, not with .22 Short.
*While Jenni was sighting the animal in, she commented that her heart was racing. I had to smile, as I completely understood the sentiment.
*I now understand why some people devote their entire lives, every second of their free time in fact, to hunting. It is that gratifying.
*Although we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, I can understand how this is definitely not for everyone.
*Never eaten squirrel before, but there’s enough meat in the freezer from this one that it should make a lovely little dinner for the three of us.
*The toe warmers made the trip. Next time, I want a thermos of something hot to sip on as well. Spiced cider would have been a life saver.
*I now realize that I want to carry all kinds of meat packaging material, para cord, folding utility knives with those hook blades instead of the trapezoidal utility blades, latex gloves, hand wipes, and a shock and weather-proof digital camera.

Predation

Yeah, I know that I’ve wandered into quite the sticky subject here. I’ve had to mull this over quite a bit to organize my thoughts into something coherent enough to actually post. About six weeks ago, Peter posted a controversial op/ed concerning pedophiles. A couple days later, LabRat weighed in on the subject and garnered some bizarre commenting. Things started getting weird with the third commenter, whom LabRat wisely blocked after he had spouted quite a bit of… …his own *unique* opinion. Here is the chilling comment in question:

“Sex with a child and sex with an adult of your own gender isn’t just two flavors of “deviant sex”, it’s one flavor of sex versus rape.”

Ridiculous. Sex with a child is sex with a child. “Consent” is a trap, because its a legal term: no one signs a contract before making love.

Rape is rape: is when someone does not want to have sex and is forced to do so. But sex with a child can be consensual the same way any other sex can be consensual.

Consensual sex means two people that want to experience pleasure together, be it two adults, an adult and a child, two children… Saying that sex with a child is always “rape” is completely absurd because it ignores the desires and the longings of the child.

Depriving children from their sexual rights are what child molesters and society at large do: the former force their sexuality with the child, the latter deprive kids from their sexual impulses. Child sexual abuse is also saying that children cannot have sex: you are taken their sexual rights away.

Huh. That makes my hair stand up every time I read it. Let me switch gears here and put it in ways that make me feel a little less like hunting LabRat’s commenter down like an animal for the good of all of society. If you have read my blog, you know that I have a son. Wee Bot is twelve and a half years old. In Nigeria, South Korea, and Spain the legal age of consent is thirteen years old according to this source. There are reasons that this is accepted as too young to the vast majority of the civilized world.

Wee Bot is a good kid. If he were allowed to make his own decisions, he would likely switch to a strict diet of cane sugar and bacon, and he would abandon his school lessons so he could play video games full-time. Is he retarded? No, he’s TWELVE. If you believe like I do, God gives us parents to protect us and to make decisions for us because we are not capable of making our own decisions when we are children. For my non-believing friends, our parents are our decision-making caretakers for the survival of the species. The argument works pretty well either way. You have likely seen pictures of WeeBot shooting in the pages of this blog. What you may not see is me, his personal RSO, assuring that he is handling the gun in a safe manner – because although he’s good, he requires a guardian that watches over his safety. On the range I am his Range Safety Officer. Everywhere else, I’m his Life Safety Officer. He requires this and he deserves this.

Now, let’s go back to the subject at hand. If you do not believe that sexual activity is life changing, then you likely need to talk to a therapist yourself. You can find information about the effects of child sexual abuse here. From the linked article:

Depending on the severity of the incident, victims of sexual abuse may also develop fear and anxiety regarding the opposite sex or sexual issues and may display inappropriate sexual behavior. However, the strongest indication that a child has been sexually abused is inappropriate sexual knowledge, sexual interest, and sexual acting out by that child.

(Emphasis mine.) Read that as it is not normal for children to show an interest in sexuality. If one engages in sexual activity with a child because the child showed interest, they have just become part of the problem as the child is likely the victim of prior sexual abuse. Therefore, ‘consentual’ sex with a child, who is not capable of giving consent, is rape. How could any sane person deny this? No, scratch that. I’m not going to give LabRat’s commenter the excuse of insanity. Predation is not based on insanity, it is based on evil. The very attempt to rationalize it away as the commenter did is nothing short of pure evil. The snake in the garden wooed Eve into Original Sin not with threats or physical force but with the sweetest words and flawed rationalizations. Source.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Whether you believe the literal Garden of Eden story or not, this is an incredibly spot-on picture of not only human psychology as a whole, but also of evil and how evil makes its argument. As a parent, it’s my job to make sure Wee Bot does not get into a car with LabRat’s commenter. That is a horribly simplified and obvious statement to make, but that about says it all, doesn’t it? What I mean to say is that it is the parent’s responsibility, handed to them at the time of the child’s conception, to make sure the child is safely taught to be an adult by the time they reach adulthood. It is a huge task and most if not all parents fail at it at one point or another. I’m not saying that it is the parents’ fault if their kid gets diddled by the uncle, but they have a heavy responsibility to minimize Junior’s interactions with possible threats. Who will abuse my child? Nobody if I can help it, and I’m going to use any and all advantages at my disposal to that end.

I have additional thoughts on the age of consent and how we can’t effectively fight the sexual education problems until we come to some sanity there. But, that’s going to have to wait for a subsequent entry as this one has already gotten entirely too long.

Those who shoot together…

The fellowship of the gun is a powerful bonding experience. Sure, when you run the machine in the zone, there is you, your target, and the gun connecting you. Everything else dulls and fades out as though time is slowing down all around the little tunnel that the shot is going to follow. But, to have your best friend and lover there to cheer your greatest shots and offer a “you’ll do better next time” for the botched ones – there is little else that compares except of course, being on the other end of that interchange.

Read the whole post here.

Further thought: I once had a beautiful vendor representative ask if I’d go to the gun range with her. The first response that came to mind (which I did restrain) was that I’d be better off sleeping with her as it might be less of a betrayal to my wife. LOL! Needless to say, I did not go shooting with her.