The Modern Man

My friend Tommy posted a link on Facebook to a NYT article with the same title as this post. Here, I will attempt to correct the errors there in.

1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, she is present and can try them on herself. Why would he ever shop for her shoes without her?

2. The modern man does not lose confidence. Sometimes, when things are rough, he knows that it will get better.

3. The modern man watches movies that are loud enough that he doesn’t have to worry about crunching.

4. The modern man cooks his own steak to a perfect medium rare, whether over fire or in cast iron.

5. The modern man sometimes makes his own parking spot when an empty one is not available.

6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his kids’ electronic devices are not in their room so they’ll actually get some sleep.

7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a diet drink, he’ll show you the door.

8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “magazine,” not “clip” like some gauche simpleton.

9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He lets her play with a machete.

10. The modern man lets someone else do the dishes. He cooks. Fair is fair.

11. “The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.” *I’m not even sure what this means.

12. The modern man gives himself a proper wet shave with soap and a blade before jumping in for a wash.

13. The modern man listens to all kinds of music.

14. The modern man remembers what he needs to buy from the grocery store. The market is no place for his face to be buried in a grocery list, devoid of situational awareness.

15. The modern man has hard floors. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his cowboy boots.

16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the wall because the side closer to the door is also closer to the bathroom. Besides, if an intruder gets in, his wife has her own shotgun on her side.

17. The modern man has tools for all kinds of occasions. Especially for food preparation.

18. The modern man has several shoehorns so he won’t damage his shoes, if he can find one of them. He also has a boot jack.

19. The modern man does not buy flower arrangements for his wife, who thinks they’re a waste of money. Sometimes, he’ll buy live flowers to plant in the garden though.

20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon because laying on that side is more comfortable.

21. The modern man doesn’t scold. His loved ones know when he’s disappointed.

22. The modern man doesn’t take the newspaper. He gets his news online.

23. The modern man has all of Clint Eastwood’s and Bruce Willis’ films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).

24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. He has an app on his tablet that monitors that.

25. The modern man owns many guns, in an assortment of calibers and guages.

26. The modern man cries a single manly tear on the rare occasion that it is appropriate.

27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. They assume that he would gyrate to music as a lad, but he’s got more important things to worry about now that he’s grown. Although he has considered taking ballroom classes with his wife.

Why couldn’t I just be happy with the way things were?

Probably ten years ago, give or take, I bought an RCA tube TV at a garage sale. It’s something like a 27 or 29-inch screen, and it was ten bucks. I thought it would go great in our little bedroom, on top of the dresser, right next to our 30-gallon fish tank. For the first couple of years, we’d watch Adult Swim every once in a great while, but evantually the TV wound up forgotten, simply gathering dust on the dresser. We cancelled the cable, never bothered to get converter boxes when everything went digital, and it was utterly useless at that point. But still, I didn’t want to bother dealing with it at the time.

Fast forward to sometime last year, when I picked up a second Wii. I had the brilliant idea to install Amazon Prime Instant Video on the Wii and plug it into that TV. Between Prime, web browser, and YouTube, that little TV essentially became a smart TV, and earned a new lease on life. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed streaming shows on that set when we want to be a little cozier than the living room. Still, I thought that I’d like to get us something with a little better picture (still standard definition is fine for in there), and the speakers on that RCA are pretty atrocious. I’d go to stream music on the Wii and Jennifer would complain until I quit.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I was at one of the local thrift shops, and they had a very attractive Sony Trinitron XBR. This was a late nineties model, and arguably one of the better standard-def tube TVs ever made. The folks in our retro gaming group are always on the lookout for such things for that reason. I took a phone pic of the beast and posted it to the FaceBook group wall with location and price. I thought for sure someone would jump on that, but a week later, I saw the same set in that store again. Then I started thinking outloud.

“That Trinitron is kind of tempting,” I would muse to Jennifer. “I hope someone gets that TV. That’s a nice set if that’s the format you’re looking for,” I’d say. “If it was a little cheaper, I’d be tempted to get it myself. It would go great in our bedroom.” At this point, I should have decided that the old RCA was good enough, or simply take the drive to the local Best Buy and ask what they had in a 36-inch. But no. I kept thinking about the stupid Trinitron.

Fast forward to yesterday. I wandered into the same thrift shop, and there that stupid TV sat, whispering my name for some stupid reason. Forty bucks. If it wasn’t such a pain in the butt to move big sets or if the price was lower, I might just go for it. Still, I asked the little check out gal if they’d drop the price on a TV if it sat in the store for long enough. Another employee must have heard me from the next room, where she pounced through the doorway to inject herself in the conversation, “you want a TV? We have TVs coming out our ears here. I’ll make you a deal on a TV. Which one are you interested in?” I told her that I might be interested in the Trinitron. “This one here? Twenty bucks and it’s yours today.” I explained that I’d have to come back for it, since my wife had taken the truck to work so I could take the car to the muffler shop. “Thats fine,” she insisted, “we’ll put your name on it and it will be here when you get back.” So, like a moron, I paid my $20, and drove the curiously quiet Tactical Assault Compact Sedan to Jennifer’s office to swap her for the truck.

They were waiting for me at the thrift store. That same woman grabbed a piano dolly and helped me hoist that set into the back of the truck, which responded by dropping about three inches on its springs. Noticing the way that big TV ominously made the truck looked smaller made my heart sink a little bit. Gah. It didn’t look that big in the store. It was heavy too. Probably about two-fifty. That scrawny little lady at the thrift shop didn’t have any problem horking it up into the truck though. She was certainly stronger than she looked. But, surely between my teenage son and I, we could have that thing in place, hooked up, and ready to watch Justified on Amazon by the time Jennifer got home. Right? Right? On the drive home, all I could see in the mirror was that hulking beast. Was it actually getting bigger?

My son has gotten a lot stronger than he used to be. He’s constantly reminding me that he’s taller than I am, and his voice has gotten deep and round. To his credit, he was able to help me get the TV out of the truck and onto the front porch. And, that’s about when he petered out on me. That TV looked even bigger on the porch. It was lunch time, so I figured we’d get some protein in him, and he’d be good to go, like Popeye and spinach. We tried. We really did. I cleared off the top of the dresser and made arrangements for the RCA. A 36-inch really isn’t all that much bigger than a 27-inch, is it? Still, I wanted plenty of space to work with. When it was clear that my son was not quite up to the challenge of moving the big set, I told him that we’d wait until his mom was home, and they could get the one end, and I’d get the other. After all, it’s not like anyone was going to walk away with it. When I moved the RCA out, I set it on the front porch to stage it for when its new owner came to pick it up. Seeing them side by side, that Trinitron absolutely dwarfed the RCA. My heart sank a little more.

Jennifer got home from work, and I told her my plan. Her response was only slightly more polite than, “hahahahhahaahahaa. No.” Now Jennifer, who is an easy to get along with trooper, started brainstorming alternate plans. “We really need a dolly,” she suggested. We tried to think of who we know that might have a piano dolly that we could borrow, which is really ironic, as my dad used to work on pianos, including moving them. But, last time I saw his dolly, it was pretty much worn out, and that’s been so long ago, I’m no longer confident he even still has it. Jennifer thoughtfully broke the silence that had settled, as we scratched our heads over our current, bewildering, and self-made problem, “would your mechanic’s creeper hold that much weight?”

“Well sure,” I answered, “it’s intended to scoot around with the weight of a grown man on it.” And as I thought about it, all the lights came on, “that’s perfect in fact!” I retrieved my creeper from the garage, and tilted the TV so Jennifer could slide it under. It didn’t roll perfectly, but we weren’t going very far. It was all going notably smoothly up until we made it to the threshold of the bedroom, where the carpet began. The creeper was not going to roll into our bedroom. Which was a bit of a moot issue, as there’s no way the set would physically fit between the queen-size waterbed and its surrounding furniture and walls. I knew that Teen Bot had just almost enough steam to manhandle this thing, and I knew that I could handle the other end, and we didn’t have far to go now. Jennifer and I decided that the two of them could take the one end as long as it was only the shot from the hall to the bed. If we got it to the bed, we could kind of walk it around the bed rails to the far side where the dresser waited its arrival.

The three of us were able to get it lifted into the air, and that’s about when kiddo started to give out again. His corner of the set started slowly sinking, with it positioned diagonally, mostly in the hall, in time with his gasping. my bottom left corner lodged against the door trim, his top corner gouged its way into the sheet rock on the other side of the hall, everything broke out in chaos, and the TV hung there, pinned between the walls. And again, the thought occurred to me, that I should have just gone and bought a new flat screen in the first place. Once we managed to extricate the set from where it was jammed (quite comically, I might add) against the walls, it was again clear that this plan need another adjustment.

“Ok,” I said authoritatively, “we need to think. And there’s whiskey in the kitchen.” Whiskey brain storming led to us putting the creeper back under the TV, but with the set hanging off the end. That would buy us a few more inches. We were going to win this thing, one way or another, even if that meant fighting for each baby step of the journey. When the wheels bottomed out against the carpet once again, as Jennifer began to say, “what now?” I grabbed the TV and dragged it off the creeper, sliding it onto the bedroom floor. Now, sitting beside the bed, it once again begged the question, “now what?”

Jennifer got the bright idea that if we tilted it up again, we could cram our Halliburton Zero suitcase underneath it, and when boosted that much, we could probably lift it the final few inches to the bed rail. “If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid,” I said, or something like that anyway. I tilted up the set, Jennifer crammed the Zero under it, and pushed as I rocked the TV back down. It worked like a charm. From there, we were indeed able to boost the TV onto the bed rail. Then, moving some six-inches at a time, we walked the thing around the perimeter of the bed, until it was directly in front of the dresser.

Exhausted, sweating, and panting, we looked at each other over the great expanse of that stupid TV. “I’m not sure I can lift anymore,” Jennifer said, as we steadied the Trinitron, perched on the rail of the water bed. I looked down at the situation. This thing was absolutely massive. What ever made me think that this would go over well? Just look at the sheer size of this stupid TV set! Why, it’s bigger than the expanse between the bed and the dresser! And then, it hit me.

“No, let’s do this the easy way,” I said. “You can be done lifting. Would you please just watch that corner and make sure it stays planted on the bed rail?” I pivoted my side of the TV onto the dresser and then kind of scooted it up onto the dresser from there. I had to kind of hug it across the front to work it in. When I came away, I had to laugh, seeing where the screen was fogged up from my chest. Of course, we had to catch our breath, and have more whiskey.

The rest of the story is that I managed to get the Wii and DVD player hooked up. The picture on this TV is enough better than the RCA that at first we were wondering if our color settings were off. The improvement in sound is night and day. Last night we played music through the Trinitron and probably kept ourselves up too late. I will concede that this was probably not the best way to upgrade our bedroom TV, but we’re both happy with the results. Well, except for the muscle soreness, the damaged sheetrock, and as Jennifer told me in an email earlier, “I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.” Even so, all’s well that ends well.

Dear Random, Shirtless Party Goer…

First off, let me say that the reason I allowed you to continue to flirt with my wife while I was standing right there is that a) I was not in the least threatened by your antics and b) she seemed to have the situation well under control herself. I have my myriad reasons for marrying a capable woman, and this is just one of many examples. Allow me to give you some tips on wooing women in the future, that you may one day have an opportunity to pass on your genetic code, as I already have.

1) If you have to inform someone of how “smooth” and “dead sexy” you are, it’s probably not true. It’s kind of like when a man describes himself as “a good Christian” or when a woman is wearing pants that read “bootylicious” across the seat. If it must be asserted rather than observed, you’ve likely already lost your audience.

2) I won this woman’s heart and made her my wife when you were like nine. Our marriage is old enough to drive. You are closer to our son’s age than you are ours. In case you hadn’t noticed by the way we hung around together, neither of us is exactly “looking,” and we keep each other fairly *ahem* satisfied. It’s obvious to everyone else, even if you didn’t catch it, so be more observant in the future.

3) If you are going to prance around shirtless and announce how “dead sexy” you know you are, you might consider hitting the gym once in a while. If you can’t afford a gym membership, hit up the local GoodWill and pick up a doorway chin-up bar and also do a few crunches. You probably didn’t notice that my abs are clearly visible through my shirt, and I see no need to go without it. It’s okay to not have as much muscular definition, or to have a soft spot here or there, but don’t be in abject denial about it.

4) When you approach a lady and proceed to lay out your “smooth moves,” starting the conversation by describing how you are “working on” another young lady and that you have “stolen” her from your “best friend” is probably a deal-killer straight out of the gate. Your approach was so amusing that we both wanted to see where you were going with this, from the perspective of sheer, morbid curiosity.

5) When you want to win someone’s affection, either platonic or otherwise, it’s best to keep the talk about yourself to a minimum. In fact, you might be better off just letting the other person do the talking and respond when appropriate. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

5) It would not be difficult for me to end you with my bare hands. The next husband you come across might not think your display was so humorous, and may not practice as much patience and restraint. If not for your chances of getting a date, then for your chances of seeing old age, do yourself a favor and leave wives alone.

6) Some people can handle flirting and alcohol. You are clearly not among those. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. If you want to get anywhere in the future, choose either flirting or alcohol. You probably don’t realize this, but booze does not make you more attractive nor charming.

7) At the risk of sounding conceited even if she were closer to your age and single, my wife is way out of your league. She said so to me in those words when we were laughing at your expense later at home. Failing my advice on developing your communication skills, drinking habits, and fitness, it might not be a bad idea for you to lower your standards or find girls with low self esteem.

So, as a man who has been happily married to a loving wife for sixteen* years, I leave you with these seven nuggets of wisdom. May they serve you well as you go out into the world. I wish you peace and prosperity, and great success in your future humility.

*Oops! Edited to correct the years of matrimony. It’s been long enough it’s easy to lose count!

Kilted To Kick Cancer 2014

Since we’re half way through September and this is the first I’ve mentioned it, it’s probably clear and obvious that I didn’t get into hard participation this year. Suffice it to say that I have been wearing my kilt, and telling curious bystanders about the campaign, but I didn’t sign up for a donation team this year. Please don’t think for one minute that I’m not supporting this cause. On the contrary, my son has family history of prostate cancer on both sides, and I want this thing fixed before he’s old enough to worry about it. Take a minute and watch this video that he and I made, discussing KTKC:

Those wooden roller coasters are bumpy! Yes, we are on a roller coaster in that video, and yes, I was wearing my 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt. Some of the teams this year are pretty special friends of mine. I was going to post recommendations on whose team to donate through, but it’s ultimately all going to the same great cause, and all of these guys are working hard toward it. So, get kilted, get checked, and make your donations here.

I’ve Been Biting My Tongue On This Whole “Privilege” Thing…

I’m not providing the links here for the sole reason that it seems that anywhere I click on the internet people are going on and on about “privilege.” It’s apparently the new, hip point of contention to talk about lately. The context in which I’ve seen it used insinuates that being a pale-faced male puts me at an inherent social advantage over all non-pale-faced, and/or non-male individuals. This stance automatically assumes that there is universal sexism and racism ruling our society that overwhelms all other forms of discrimination, in every meaning of the term.

When I was young, we lived in a not-so-nice part of town. My friend, Reefer, would bicycle to my house with his Crown Royal bag full of marbles and we’d play in the driveway. My dad ran off a hooker getting high on spray paint on the sidewalk in front of our house more than once. Sirens were ubiquitous and the rowdy bar down the street provided the white noise to my sleep. One time, some guy driving a school bus stole the push mower out of our back yard. It wasn’t even a nice lawn mower. At my school, either the Latinos or the black kids had the whites outnumbered at least three to one. The term ‘minority’ didn’t make any sense to me until we moved the summer before I attended second grade. I’m not about to claim that I didn’t get special treatment back then. I was a good kid, but my teachers kind of babied me. Whether that was because I was sweet-natured and well behaved, or whether it was because I was shorter than the other students and looked like Opie Taylor, I have no way to say at this point.

Jennifer and I once ran a youth hot-rodding/performance tuning group at church. We modified and tuned cars for performance with the kids, and talked to them about personal character and God. It was a pretty special time. While we were working on an engine swap in a Civic, one of the boys called from under the car, “turn it to the left to loosen it, right?” One of the kid’s fathers tried to donate a Porche 944 Turbo to the group, but complications kept that from being finalized. Since this was a decently affluent part of town none of these kids were from extremely bad backgrounds, but we had a pretty good spread of upbringing. A couple of them lived in trailers and would not be seeing the halls of higher education without hard work and scholarships on their part, and others had dads with spare Porches that they wanted to donate to the cause. I can think of two particular guys in the group that became pretty good friends that could not have been from much more different upbringings in life, but on Saturday morning, with wrenches in hand, they were equals, and they were buddies. Both of these young men were white. It should be of no great surprise that one of them is a Representative in the Oklahoma House, and is running for the U.S. Senate. He was set up for success from the day he was born. I’m not saying that the other one has no chance as such accomplishments in life, nor am I saying that Mike hasn’t worked hard for what he’s done. I might not agree on every point in Mike’s political stance, but I’m proud of both of those guys.

It is a true, unmitigated fact that some individuals start in a better position to succeed than other people. I know that I had a better start in life than my young friend Reefer. To that end, I’ve known a lot of people that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth that caused me the ache of jealousy. To claim that race is the sole contributing factor to an inherent life advantage is unadulterated, petty racism. Anyone who claims that boys are set up for greater success than girls have evidently never been in, nor even heard of a classroom; and that’s only one example to illustrate the fallacy of their sexist stance. If you believe that being a white male grants privilege over anything else in life, tell that to Sasha and Malia Obama. Those girls will get whatever education and career they ever want, and they’ll have an armed detail for the rest of their life. Now, that’s privilege. Indeed, “check your privilege” is a loser’s excuse. What the assertion boils down to is, “the only reason you’re successful is that you were born into it and I’m not good enough to seize the American Dream and make a better life for myself now.” I would be personally horrified to make such a statement. First of all, never compare yourself against anyone else. They didn’t steal the success that should have rightfully been yours. Secondly, if you’re jealous of a guy like Herman Cain because he’s such a successful businessman, instead of tearing the other guy down, tell yourself, “I haven’t made my first million yet.” Incidentally, I’m still personally in the process of making my first million.

Yesterday, after getting soaked in the rain and eating hamburgers with Jennifer’s parents, we settled down with Teen Bot and were enjoying some video games. The doorbell rang and I saw my neighbor from down the street in the monitor that feeds from the camera on the front door. He took a drag from his cigarette and immediately rushed toward the gate into my back yard. When I got to the door, I opened it to find multiple neighbors from all down the block walking in my front yard. Needless to say, I was a little confused. As I stepped through the door, the smell of wood smoke filled my nose. The man who lives across the street from me, let’s call him Joe, asked me, “is your house on fire?”

“No,” I said, “I didn’t smell it until I came out just now.”

“Well it’s coming from somewhere,” Joe said as I came out into the yard.

Just then, the other neighbor came back into my front yard with his cigarette, laughing, “it’s somebody’s grill. They’re across the fence trying to get some grilling in between the rain.”

In my confusion, I probably looked aggressive. In the rush, I failed to pull on a cover garment, and my M&P45 was in full view. Joe raised his hands toward me, and with big eyes he said, “I am SO sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“No,” I smiled and shook my head, “I appreciate you Joe. Thank you for looking out for me. That’s what neighbors are supposed to do.” I’d like to think that I’d do the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don’t know if he saw my gun or what, but he did seem alarmed there for just a moment.

Because of the topic on hand, I should mention that Joe is black. His recent bride is also black. Their kids are the best on the block, well-behaved, respectful, and confident. I’ve caught Joe when he didn’t know I was watching, gently giving them words of reproach or advice. They’re good people and a great family. His next door neighbors are another black family. She is the daughter of my next door neighbor. They were also in my yard, investigating the source of the mysterious smoke. On the other side, our neighbor is Native American. Frankly, I like my black and indian neighbors more than many of my white neighbors (but the one with the cigarette is a good guy too). :) I would hate to think that any of them resented me because I’m a white male, with “privilege,” in the same way that it would be quite bigoted of me to look down on them for their ethnicity. I like them for who they are and feel like they deserve no less opportunity than is granted by the privilege and benefit of living in this, the very Land of Opportunity.

The phrase “check your privilege” is insulting to all of us, all races and gender, and it should be an affront to any who ever hear it spoken. It’s a tool the talking heads and race-baiters use to fan the coals of the race war they want so badly. I don’t have time for people who give up on themselves so easily because they think their pigmentation has them locked into some kind of caste. That may be the way other societies work, but not this one. It’s an excuse to hate white males. It’s a way to give up and claim that everyone else is racist, although it is incredibly racist in and of itself. It claims that it’s impossible for me to have four out of eight adjacent neighbors that are very much not white. It’s a lie, and an ugly one at that. It’s a suggestion that when I do finally make my first million, I’ll have done it on the backs of minorities and not by my own talents, skills, and hard work; and that demeans us all, male and female, of all races. Check my privilege? No, check your attitude, friend.

*edited for grammatical and spelling errors 5/28
**and then again for the President’s daughter’s name.

Thoughts on the weekend

There’s a vicious rumor that we have bones to support our structure and bind our muscles.nbsp; We actually have bones so your pocket knife won’t go clear through your finger when you slip and stab it. The bone in my index finger performed this task quite well on Saturday. I wish my quarry would ever leave a blood trail like I did through the house. This would make life simpler. Surprisingly, the wound is now closed. There’s some bruising, but it looks pretty good.

Accidental Discharge Repost

WizardPC pointed out to me in email that the pictures that once accompanied this post have since vanished. At some point in time, I quit using webshots, and started uploading my pics directly to the blog. When the account lapsed, I lost a lot of pics that were previously posted on this page. Many of those old entries elicited a ‘meh’ from me, but this one is important enough that I’ve decided to repost it with minor textual editing and with freshly cropped and resized copies of the original photos. It all started with a conversation I had with my brother. With his permission, I published the story he wrote up for me so we could all learn something from it.

Let me introduce myself. Call me Microcosm Overlord. I am the non blogging brother of the Evyl Robot. Very similar in many ways we share a fondness for self sufficiency self protection and firearms. This is my story about my accidental discharge*, what a 12 gauge with 00 buckshot can do, why everybody came out unscathed, why the home has relatively little damage and why a 12 gauge with 00 buckshot is the preferred gun for home defense.

I have a Remington 870 Wingmaster as my home defense gun and as my social breakdown, attack of the zombies worst case scenario gun. I have Cut the barrel down to 20 inches, put the 3 round magazine extension on it, had it refinished in flat black Dura-Coat, made myself a nifty little sling out of some webbing I had lying around, put a Hi-viz fiber optic front sight on it and generally love on it like any good gunny should.


I had been manipulating it earlier in the day and had put it away next to the bed where it generally stays. Later I was demonstrating a feature/function of operation to my wife and that’s when instead of “chuck chuck” *click* happened, it went “chuck-chuck” BOOM. I had neglected to clear the magazine.


Let me digress. I have what used to be a completely fresh target hung on a door at the end of my hallway that leads to the garage. This target is for dry fire practice. It is in its specific location for two reasons. First the hall is a good 15 yards at its longest and secondly, I know that there is nothing of any real consequence behind that door.

My wife shrieked and realized what happened before I did. I didn’t even feel the recoil having no expectation of it. The gun had been pointed to the target on the door that is instinctual to me now. If I draw a bead in the house, the front sight lands on the target. After we had inspected the damage and found that nothing major was broken and that both of us were OK, save our eardrums and nerves, I had a good embrace with my wife and asked her forgiveness. For at least five minutes afterward all I could say is “I just did that…”

This is a slightly embarrassing confession for me. This was a beginner mistake and I know better. But I hope that it can also be a learning experience for those who may read it.


So today I took measurements and photos and here’s all the data: the shot traveled 21 feet from the end of the barrel,


through a 1 3/8” uninsulated wooden door (note that the wadding made it through the first layer of the door),


through 9 ½ feet of empty space in my garage where two of the nine pellets came to rest in a stereo receiver and one came to rest inside a rearview mirror that I was saving for spare parts.


You can see a fourth one made a dent in the sheetrock but was stopped. The remaining five pellets passed through a piece of ¼” cedar particle board,


through the 7 & ¾” of drywall, insulation and siding, where one lodged.


The remaining four pellets traveled another 20 feet


before finding their rest on the exterior wall of one of the outbuildings.


Total distance: 51’ 3.5”. Total thickness of penetration of the last four pellets: about 2” of wood all in total.


As to safety and The Four Rules, I can only fault my brother on number one: He did not treat the gun as if it was loaded, and it was indeed loaded. He obviously kept it pointed in a safe direction. He pulled the trigger when he intended to drop the hammer. He knew his target and what was beyond it. Like many other things in life, it’s all too easy to get sloppy and have a negligent discharge. But, this will only make him that much more diligent to make certain to be aware and increasingly more safe with his gun handling. It was because of his already thoughtful and conscious gun handling that this was a minor incident and not a tragic accident. If everyone was so conscious about safety, the incidents of accidental shootings would diminish to virtually nothing. He also took full responsibility for his actions and owned the situation. He even tracked down the wadding and all nine pellets. When I talked to him about it, he said that he was so rattled that all the guns were in the safe that night. He was pretty shaken up to say the least. Thank God everyone was safe! Although, he may have had to peel his cats off the ceiling…

The penetrating power of 00 buckshot out of a 12-gauge shotgun is staggering. Note how little spread the shot pattern had in the 21 feet between the muzzle and the garage door. I get tired of hearing people say, “You don’t even have to aim a shotgun.” Well, yes you do actually. But in house distances, I suspect that any form of lead coming out of a 12-gauge will be lethal with a well-placed shot. I know that I’m tempting the debate of birdshot versus buckshot versus slugs with that comment, but I just don’t see how any loading could be less than effective in the ranges available inside a typical home.

My brother is fortunate that he had this learning experience with no more excitement to show for it than rattled nerves, and a couple damaged possessions. By the time he took the pictures, he had filled the holes in the siding with spand-o-foam. The loss of an old stereo receiver, spare car mirror, and a little wood and sheetrock are far preferable to someone getting hurt. I encouraged him to share this story so that other people could learn from it. Always be very careful whenever you handle a firearm. Remember and practice The Four Rules. Also make it your business to know what your gun is capable of. Guns can be a lot of fun, and I’d encourage anyone who is able to go out and enjoy recreational shooting, but only ever with the highest degree of safety.

*negligent discharge. I offer this as a footnote, as the original text is a direct quote.

A Confession

My fascination with robots began when I was a child. In the fourth grade gifted classroom, I watched with envy as the fifth graders got to play with the robot kits. These were simple machines that the students assembled as per the included instructions that performed simple tasks. There was one that would follow a black line on a white sheet of paper. Others would seek out light sources and waddle on spindly legs. They were only robots by the most rudimentary of definitions. I also took a great interest in the software conversational programs in the computer lab at school. I fully knew that all of the responses were pre-programmed, and that there were key words that they were coded to pick from user input that would prompt their selected responses. I also suspected that these could be written far more elegantly, although I didn’t have the know how to do any better at the time. Things quickly changed though.

I voraciously learned everything I could about robotics and programming. By the time I was in the robot unit in fifth grade, the kits in the gifted class were too simple for my tastes. I earned extra credit in that unit for building a robot from scratch that could measure out precise volumes of materials and mix them together in predetermined ways. I intended it to be a chemistry aid, but my parents found that it was a great automated bartender for their parties. That old thing is still in the back of a closet at their house, as far as I know. I kept building machines of various sorts, each one more complex, and yet more streamlined than the last. I sought to code a program that would not simply spit out a sentence from a list like the ones mentioned above, but one that would give genuine, intelligent responses to user input. Could a machine be programmed with philosophy?

I had a grand vision of one unifying machine that would bring together my interests in AI, programming, robotics, and sculpture. The kind of exotic hardware with the raw processing power that I was after was difficult and expensive to get my hands on. I was able to scrape together the funds I needed by delivering papers every morning, mowing every lawn I could, and selling my plasma and semen using a fake ID. Many sleepless nights were spent soldering chips to boards, programming, and silicone casting. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, obsessed with my work. I was out to make a beautiful, living, breathing creature from the underpinnings of synthetic materials. I wanted the AI framework to have wit and learning ability and to exhibit genuine care for others. There were many failed attempts, but in the end I was successful. The Jennifer unit was my crowning achievement.

I have to admit that my internet handle is only guilty projection. When Jennifer first powered up, she was so perfect that I simply couldn’t hide her and keep her all to myself. I had to share her with the world, and so registered so everyone could have a chance to appreciate the fruits of my labor. I’ve had very little to do with her website since then, and her interactions have been genuinely hers. She’s programmed to write very well and I took special care in writing her snark module. Those of you who have had the opportunity to meet her can attest to the fact that she looks as natural as you or I. In fact, the only ones who may have ever suspected that she wasn’t a human are those that were at that party back in 2001 when she glitched out and I had to reboot her. To the host, I’m still sorry about the curtains. At the time, I was terrified that I’d hit upon yet another failure, but with a couple of hardware and coding tweaks, Jennifer has been running smoothly ever since.

As I said, there were failed attempts. My Jennifer, the one that you all know and love, is actually Jennifer 2.0. Jennifer 1.0 was admittedly a mess. She was the very face of the uncanny valley, looking not quite like a genuine biological. She had a buggy system too. One night in a drunken rage, she burned a barn down, throwing herself into the flames. I nearly gave up then, but pressing onward, I was able to learn from my mistakes. There were a couple of fatal flaws in the first Jennifer’s positronic net, and I missed some small but distracting details in her case. I took my time with Jennifer 2.0, determined to get every detail perfect. She can drive a car, shoot a gun, work a job, sing, and do pretty much anything a natural born human can. She can even swim, although I’m always paranoid that she may get a leak and damage her circuits. Indeed, if I could do anything differently in her build, it would be to improve her coordination, if that’s even possible.

It seems that I completely broke the mold on her build. Soon after, I built Wee Bot 1.0. The Wee Bot series has since been replaced with the Teen Bot series, but both have been fraught with bugs. I still can’t get him to work right, even on the current revision, Teen Bot 15.0. He’s completely unpredictable. Sometimes, he does exactly what he’s programmed to, but other times he’s defiant and rebellious, and fails to perform even the most simple of tasks. I haven’t given up on him yet, but he’s certainly not a finished work. Especially with the relative ease of interaction with Jennifer, Teen Bot has been quite the frustration from time to time. It was admittedly a pretty scary decision to identify him as a ‘Bot’ to the rest of the world so early on. To my surprise, people have accepted him despite his surly attitude and questionable judgment algorithms.

You must be wondering why I did it. The answer is simple. I was lonely. You don’t think that a guy like me could actually attract a woman like Jennifer do you? Not a chance, building one from scratch was the only viable option for me. And would I do it all over again? Yes I would, in a heartbeat. I do regret that I haven’t been truthful to my loyal readers though. Now that I’ve put all this out in the open, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. And, please don’t judge Jennifer for my actions. Please do keep reading and commenting on her blog. She didn’t ask for any of this. Well, except for that party where she glitched out and burned the curtains. Hopefully all those bugs are now behind us.