Domes as Homes II

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably read my musings about building a geodesic dome as a house. If you read the comments section, you know that there’s been some discussion going on. Inventive told me that he grew up living in a dome house that his dad built. I asked for pics and description, and he posted a blog entry of his own with current pictures of his parents’ home. It looks pretty good, especially after the remodel. My favorite is the last picture, where you can see the new furniture on the new floor, with freshly painted triangle panels in the wall behind, with the script “When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart” painted on the wall. Words to live by! Please do go check out his pics and commentary.

I think this cockamamie scheme of ours might actually be doable! I showed my scribbles of brainstormed floor plans to my parents on Saturday and they seemed pretty excited about it. We discussed location, and we’re pretty sure where we’re going to build it – for now anyway. There’s still plenty of time to change our minds. With the kit that we’re looking at and the floor plan we’re thinking towards, we’ll have lots of space for house guests. That will be a first for us, and we’re pretty excited about the prospect! Of course, I’ll publish more when I have more to report.

Deer Season Wrap Up

At the end of the year, my hunting license expired, as did my unfilled deer tags. I went ahead and purchased my 2013 hunting license as well as one more deer tag, since I had another two weeks to hunt. I figured if I shot a deer, it counts towards 2012, and if not, I’d have it in the fall. Things were slow going for the last two weeks, with many excuses to not get out to the farm including weather and other engagements. Well, we went out on Tuesday afternoon, as it was the last day of the season.

The drive out was pleasant and uneventful. When we made our way into the hollow, we spotted three does. They were very familiar to us as we have seen this trio countless times in pictures and in real life. This was the same doe and her two yearlings that we spotted when we took Teen Bot out for Youth Deer Gun in October. Indeed, this was the very same doe that he passed up the shot on for multiple moral dilemmas. Good kid.

Those two yearlings have grown a lot in the last few months. Now they are nearly as big as their mother. Before I could get within one hundred yards of them, they spotted me and walked into the woods to watch me from there. I stopped and waited quietly to see what would happen. The slightly larger offspring walked back out from the treeline and watched me. With her ears erect and her nose pointed at me, she laid down in the grass and waited as I waited. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of her, at the full 5x optical zoom that my Nikon affords me. I didn’t bother posting the picture. You can see the doe if you know where to look, but I felt like it would be useless here.

So, there we sat in a man versus nature game of chicken; me not daring to move for fear of spooking them, the deer not daring to move for fear of me. The slightly smaller yearling tentatively walked from the treeline and stood beside her sister. With fifteen minutes left of the season, we waited, staring at each other. Neither one of them was in a position for an ethical kill and they were out of bow range anyway. Then suddenly, the three of them made an about face and bounded off to their left, up the trail that they’d carved through the woods toward the car path.

I swapped out the SD card in the camera in the hollow. With ten minutes to spare, we headed back up the trail, swapping out the card in the other camera along the way. I hoped to cross paths with them again at the top of the property with minutes to spare before the end of shooting hours. When we made it back to the gate, the deer were nowhere to be seen and it was time to call it quits. Oh well. Although there was no harvest, the hunt was good. I learned a lot and feel like I have skills that I can put to work in the fall.

As we drove back towards the city, we mused together about the combined deer seasons, and what we had learned. We even laughed about the fact that this particular doe had so narrowly escaped on so many occasions. I was about to take the turn from the property road onto the main road when something came out of nowhere and struck the front of the car in a flash of gray and a startling thud.

“What the!?!?!” I exclaimed as I put full pressure to the Brembo brake calipers. The Italian brakes stopped the car as abruptly as they should and I threw on the hand brake and the hazard lights.

“What was that?” Jennifer asked.

“I don’t know,” I said as I climbed out of the car, “some kind of animal.”

As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw a crumpled mass on the edge of the road. I shined my flashlight to see a relatively large feathered form. I squinted and looked for movement or blood. Suddenly, the creature popped to its feet, wings hanging to its sides.

“Stay back!” Jennifer said, to either Teen Bot, or me, or the bird, I can’t be sure

It stumbled side to side. Standing about two feet tall, its flat beak and horn-like crests gave it away. I reached for my camera about the time the owl shook its head as if to shake off the disorientation. Before I had the camera powered on, the creature shook its head again, spread its broad wings and confidently flapped them several times to propel itself into the air, circling to the nearby treeline.

“Well,” Jennifer mused, “I guess it’s okay.”

“Clearly,” I said, “Those were not the movements of an injured animal.”

Returning to the car, we inspected the front driver’s corner where it had hit. There were brush-like marks in the dust on the front fender near the headlight. We had not hit it, it had hit us. That explained why it was only dazed and not broken. We got back in the car and headed home. It was a good trip overall, and the three and a half months of deer archery were enriching even if they didn’t put meat in the freezer.

Today, I did a little maintenance to my bow and resorted my arrows. I am on the look out for a feeder which I will attempt to maintain year round. We will continue to scout and watch the deer, and we will more than likely sit in the blind with cameras instead of guns and archery equipment at one time or another. The rabbits, squirrels, and quail have been prevalent, and we’ll continue to pursue them. By the time Deer Archery opens in October, we will be far more prepared than we were this year, and I’m sure we’ll have more stories to share!

Not in 2013.

Let me start this by saying that it’s been particularly painful to do the research for this entry and run across pics of the victims of the recent school massacre. How many gifts under trees will never be opened? How many parents promised their child activities for after school that they will never be able to deliver? “I wish I’d hugged him once more, a little tighter and a little longer.” “I shouldn’t have been so picky about her finishing her vegetables at dinner last night.” “We really should have taken that vacation last year instead of picking up those extra hours at work.” “Why were my last words to him ‘you’re going to be late’ and not ‘I love you’?”* I can’t even imagine. I thank God for the safety of my family and ask Him to bring comfort to the survivors of this horrible event. When this happened, I had no intention of jumping into the fray with the politics and the debates over rights. However, it is clear that the enemies of freedom know no rest and will exploit these deaths no matter what we do. Therefore, we cannot remain silent. We must be vigilant and firm, and put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetrator and his depravity, not his upbringing, not his mental condition, and not the tools used. Evil exists and it cannot be contained, explained, justified, or prevented.

The Obama administration has been hedging toward a gun ban since they took the White House four years ago, and it’s been no well-kept secret that he has a problem with handguns and at least some long guns. In 1934, those that would limit our liberty pushed through the National Firearms Act, appealing to people’s emotions, based on the violence enacted by gangsters and prohibition-era bootleggers. In the modern day, the War on Drugs is the equivalent of alcohol prohibition, and the Mexican drug cartels are the booze gangs in our world. The incorrectly called ‘assault weapons’ today are in effect the same whipping boy that the ‘gang guns’ were then. Just as they were able to enact such massive limits then, someone connected to the current administration thought that if they could prove that the drug cartels were being armed by the United States gun market, they could pass sweeping legislation, using the politics of the ’30s as a model. Since that wasn’t true, they had to make it true. And then Fast and Furious blew up in their faces.** Since manufacturing their own straw man didn’t work, they had to wait for the right crisis to happen on its own. The 1934 NFA was not the first law to limit firearms in our country, it was just the biggest and most far-reaching to date. In 1934, automatic guns a.k.a. ‘assault weapons’, silencers, and short-barrelled rifles and shotguns, were demonized and prohibited from private ownership without an expensive tax and an arduous process of paperwork. Riding on the same momentum, they were able to pass the Federal Firearms Act in 1938, which required gun dealers to hold a government-issued license, and permanently closed the ‘gun show loophole’ that the antis still complain about seventy-five years later.

Since the gun control advocates can’t make a case based on facts***, they ram legislation through on emotional appeals and knee-jerk reactions. This is what they did when they passed their second large piece of legislation, the Gun Control Act of 1968, appealing to people’s sense of hurt and loss from the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. You see, when people are upset enough, you don’t have to use facts to convince them to take action. The 1968 GCA extended the 1938 ban to grenades and bombs, and replaced the regulations laid out by 1938 FFA with far more strict regulations. There were even murmurs following the shooting of Senator Giffords in 2011, but it didn’t stick. My guess is that the administration, already on thin ice because of a poorly performing economy, didn’t want to risk losing reelection because of a controversial if not unpopular gun ban.

Remember what I wrote above about F&F under the current administration? The anti-gun crowd will never hesitate to act shady and underhanded to get what they want. In 1986, Senator William J. Hughes slipped an amendment into the Firearm Owners Protection Act which prohibited new automatic or select fire guns to go to private ownership by import or manufacture. The FOPA genuinely did set out to protect gun owners from overreaching legislation, and yet it severely limited full-autos, not immediately, but it did set the beginning of the end. Today, a law-abiding citizen can go through the proper channels and legally obtain a new short-barreled rifle or shotgun, a silencer, and several other highly-restricted items, but not a new ‘machine gun’. If a private citizen wants a fully-automatic gun, the shopping list consists of the finite number of guns that were already registered to private use in 1986, and these guns are all over twenty-six years old. Those that have been lost, stolen, broken beyond repair, or mis-registered and thus seized by the ATF are out of the game and no longer available to private ownership. Therefore, these guns are incredibly expensive, rare, and essentially a rich man’s toy. Of all legally-owned automatic guns, there have only been a couple incidents where one was used in a criminal murder, one of which perpetrated by a police officer.

There have been many smaller gun regulations passed since this time, most notably the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. WARNING – the link goes to a liberal, anti-gun website. Again, because of a rash of mass shootings, people were scared and anti-gun legislators were able to slip in this beast of a law, with the stipulation that it would expire after ten years, at which point, it could be reevaluated for renewal. As it turned out, the AWB didn’t have any redeeming effect on crime or violence and was allowed to sunset in 2004. This bill criminalized magazines that held more than ten rounds and rifles with certain aesthetic features. This is what politicians refer to when they call for a ‘new’ or ‘reinstated’ assault weapons ban. The rumor mill says that military-pattern semi-automatic rifles would be out, as would magazines that hold in excess of ten rounds.

As I’ve mentioned(***), I will come back and post numbers and comparisons that show that none of these laws have done any good, but have only put more of a burden on law-abiding citizens. Stranger cites that there are well over 20,000 gun control laws currently in effect in the United States. Both he and Linoge have a lot of good documentation proving that gun control does not work. There are a lot of people doing a good job collating this data, but these two come to mind now.

Any measure of gun control is not about public safety. Period. There are two types of gun control advocates – those who aren’t aware of this fact and those who do know this fact. That is to say that among gun control advocates, you have the ignorant and the wicked. I asserted this on twitter over the weekend and had quite a bit of blowback because of it. They are rallying the troops. This is it, folks. The issue at hand is not whether the Sandy Hook shooting was horrible or not. And the issue is not guns, and what is or is not permitted by our current laws, and yet that’s what they are trying to make it abo

Bring It Home.

I’ve been a little behind on… …well, everything. One thing that I’ve been behind on though is reading the blogs. So, Tam got some bad news from her doc. And, she’s going to have some medical bills to contend with. But, we can donate to her cause to help alleviate those bills. And, my friend Mark has sweetened the pot, if you will do so. If you go to her website, you’ll see a PayPal button in the right column, like so:

Donate there and get a screenshot of your receipt. Email your screenshot to Mark. For every five dollars you donate, he’ll put your name in the hat for a drawing to win a pair of his beautiful custom grips for your 1911 or Hi-Power. Just this last September, we donated a lot of money to fight cancer for complete strangers. We wore kilts. Some of us lost hair. Others of us spent the day on the firing line in a slinky black dress and published salacious video of our spouses sniping a paint can with a .50BMG or two. My point is, we’re the kind of people that will go to great lengths to help others, and one of our own is in trouble. Shamefully, I don’t actually own a 1911 or a Hi-Power, but I’ll still be donating when I decide what I can work into the budget. Tam has a heck of a support network, and it’s time for that network to go to work for her.

The Catsuit Video

During the Kilted To Kick Cancer drive, I may or may not have made certain promises involving Jennifer, a PVC catsuit, and a .50-caliber rifle. The funniest part is that I was more comfortable showing up dressed ridiculously and salaciously with this group of fine people than I would be in front of some people that I see everyday. Anyway, you people are awesome. There were two .50-caliber rifles available, so Jennifer shot both of them. The catsuit actually split open in the seat on Saturday night, so after about five Nerd Beers, I found myself with needle and thread in our quarters that evening, sipping a bloody mary and stitching the butt closed. I just knew it was going to look terrible. However, it seemed to do the job just fine. But, you’re probably not here to read my ramblings this time. No, you want to see this:

Not sure how we’ll top that for KTKC ’13, but we’ll think of something. I hope you enjoyed the video! Thanks again!

Kilted Aftermath

This year I was able to spend a lot more kilt time than last year because of weather and the availability of another kilt for garment rotation. Now, my Wranglers feel weird. I’m actually really looking forward to more unbifurcated goodness this weekend. But, that’s not the point now. I’ve just sent emails to my five top donors. People, this year’s support was phenomenal. I received almost thirty eight times the donations that I did last year. My top five donations ranged from $150 to $300. Wow. And, that is not in any way intended to draw attention away from the smaller donations. If I hadn’t received the $5 to $10 donations, this would not have happened. As has been stated, I took second place by THREE DOLLARS.

And, I’m not at all trying to gloat. If I could have hand picked two bloggers to share the top three with, I’d be hard pressed to choose any better than JayG and Stingray, and I’m looking forward to seeing them this weekend. Although our totals were a mere three dollars separated, had Stingray and I pooled our donations, we still wouldn’t have touched JayG’s staggering total. Good job, gentlemen! I want to thank Larry at Last Refuge, Erin Palette, and definitely A Girl, but most of all my lovely wife who goes on all my crazy adventures with me for all their promotion and support. Also, many thanks to Kelly and his friends for coming up with this brainchild in the first place, and for persevering and nurturing it into what it threatens to ultimately be.

Which brings me to my next point. Last weekend I picked up a third camera tripod, and we’ll make sure all the batteries are fully charged so we can get the promised video footage of Jennifer shooting the M82A1 in skin tight PVC. And, I’ve been putting my own outfit together, which does include a black dress and some… accessories. Should be good. I don’t know what the heck we could possibly do to top this next year. We may have to start planning in a few weeks. Not only is this an awesome cause, it was a whole lot of fun! Thanks again to all of you!

Kilted To Kick Cancer – The Last Friday with Standings Update, Updated…

Here we are, at the very end of KTKC 2012. I want to start by giving some huge thank-you’s to all of you who donated on my behalf. Among the kilted, you have put me in a solid third place, behind JayG and Stingray, but ahead of Kelly. Unless something crazy happens (again), that’s likely where I will finish. I am still expecting a few donations in, which have been pledged but not received, and we’ll just have to see if and how that affects the finish. I am so humbled and honored by your support; you people are amazing. The top four donors to my account are standing at $200, $150, $100, and $75 currently. One of my $50 donors was trying to donate again yesterday but was having issues with the donation website. **Update – My official top five donors as of right now are $200, $150, $150, $100 and $75. Thank you!** I expect that will be resolved shortly and we’ll have an actual top five to receive the gun grips, custom holster, and oil paintings. Because, we’re classy over here in this corner of the internet. 😛 I’m still going to need to figure out how to contact those of you who were the top donors. I’m sure we’ll figure out something there.

Also, one of the donors has requested one of Jennifer’s illustrious “designer” paper bags. If any of the rest of you who donated want an autographed paper bag, just give one of us a shout and we’ll make that happen.

As to catsuit pics, I believe that the promise was that if I took first place, I’d publish video of Jennifer shooting the M82A1 in skin tight PVC. Unless we have our own little Christmas miracle (which I’m not ruling out until midnight Sunday), I don’t see that happening this year. Perhaps next. However, the deal was that if you people put me in the top three, we would take some high-quality, high-resolution pictures and publish them for your review. Assuming I don’t slip from third place, we will be working to make sure this happens. Do you have any poses or angles you’d like to specifically request? I imagine we can take a few fun pictures. If you can manage to bump me up into second place before midnight on Sunday, we’ll do more pics in more poses and possibly even try to get Oleg in on the action.

I’ve gotten donations and well-wishing in this thing, but I haven’t received a whole lot of requests of stuff to do or give for donations. I really do value your input and would love to get some ideas from you. Obviously, it’s a little late in the game to change the plan, but we can start planning ahead for KTKC 2013, right? So anyway, we’re not done yet, but it’s looking good so far. Please do slide your donations my direction as we’ve still got a couple days. I’ll be wearing my kilt. Thanks again!

More on Mechanical Watches

Not to mention the times I’ve referred to my preference for mechanical watches in other venues, I have discussed it here several times. So much so in fact, that I just added “watches” as a category on this blog. When I was a child, I would get a cheap digital watch every now and then. These things would last for anywhere between two and six weeks when I wore them. It was terribly frustrating. When I was in high school, a friend of mine and I would often spend a Saturday hopping across the state border to Dallas, where we would check out record stores and the Galleria Mall. At the time, there was a store in the Galleria that sold Soviet surplus stuff. My friend bought a beautiful officer’s top coat in that store in extremely heavy gray wool. That coat had a double-breasted closure with red star buttons spaced at about four inches apart that buttoned all the way up to the chin. I bought my first mechanical watch in that store. It was a manual wind, Soviet paratrooper watch made in Russia by Vostok.

As I recall, this watch cost about $35 and was the first watch that I managed to wear longer than six weeks. I wore this one for two or three years, in fact. It has a nifty, gasketed, screw-down crown that keeps the water out when it is submerged. One time, I had a girl timing me with it while I held my breath underwater. She didn’t believe that I could hold my breath longer than five minutes. Somehow, the crown got unscrewed and the watch was ruined. At this point, it will wind and run, but it no longer keeps time, and will stop far sooner than it did when it was new. It’s probably not worth fixing, but I keep it around for the memories. It met its demise when Jennifer and I were dating. Seeing how much I had enjoyed my mechanical watch, Jennifer bought me a brand new Seiko Automatic Diver as a present. She often comments that it was more money than she had previously spent on a present for anyone.

One of the neat things about Seiko is the organization of their records keeping. With a little Google-fu, anyone can date a Seiko pretty closely. As far as I can tell, this one was made in August of 1994. Jennifer bought it for me in 1998, so it had been sitting in the jewelry case for a while. I had it overhauled a few years ago, and put a stainless steel bracelet on it after getting fed up with countless leather straps.

When we were getting ready for Christmas of 2007, we were doing pretty well for money at the time and decided to use the opportunity to buy nice anniversary gifts for each other. Our anniversary is on December 5, and even though that Christmas coordinated with our ninth anniversary, we thought that it would be nice to have the whole year to enjoy our ten-year anniversary gifts. Yes, we may be crazy. We’re having fun though. It was that Christmas that Jennifer gave me my first Swiss watch – a Tag Heuer chronograph.

This was a pre-owned unit that we had professionally overhauled shortly after purchase. Unfortunately, I think we could have found a more professional watchmaker for the task as this one has never kept time quite right, and the chronograph mechanism has never operated correctly since the overhaul. The bracelet has an ingenious expansion tab so it can be worn directly on a bare wrist or over a dive suit.

I’d really like to take this one to another watch shop so I can get more wrist time with it. It’s simply too nice a piece to not get use out of. I’ve had a few more novelty watches through the years too. One Christmas, Jennifer’s parents bought us a matching his & hers pair of no-name autos that were Chinese made junkers. They were pretty, in polished bi-metal with exhibition backs, but neither one would keep time, they weren’t water resistant, and I don’t even know where they landed. Jennifer once bought me a Pinky and The Brain themed wind-up pocket watch.

And yet, one of the strangest watches I’ve worn was a BMW-branded, fake Panerai Luminor GMT automatic. It had mineral crystals on the front and back and the construction seemed fairly solid. It was actually rather puzzling why the manufacturer chose to make an imitation of another product with unlicensed logos on it when they could have made a half way decent product of their own.

I accidentally broke the crystal seal out of the exhibition back on this watch and didn’t feel like it was worth attempting to fix. About three years ago, I kind of missed my old Soviet paratrooper watch and decided that I’d like another Vostok. As it turns out, the Vostok company survived the fall of communism and currently makes watches for the open market. I found a Vostok Amphibia automatic I liked on eBay and ordered it up.

This is a cool watch. The crown screws down just like its Soviet predecessor. Unfortunately, the crystal appears to be acrylic. Also, the bracelet was sized for a Siberian grizzly. I have sized a watch bracelet before, so I attacked the Vostok undaunted. The link pins were resistant to all manner of tooling I’ve ever used before on a watch bracelet. I wound up destroying one of the links beyond repair, and resolved myself to the notion that I would need to purchase a new bracelet for it. That was shortly before I got laid off from traditional employment, so this watch went to the back burner, i.e. my underwear drawer. Last weekend, I found a gold tone, 1970’s era Seiko 5 at a garage sale for fifty cents.

It’s certainly not in mint condition, but not only does it run, but it keeps time as well. In case you aren’t familiar with this iconic classic, Seiko’s “5” designation means that it:
1. Has an automatic movement
2. Is waterproof
3. Is shock proof
4. Displays the calendar date
5. Displays the day of the week.
According to my questionable dating methods, this watch was made in January of 1970. It needs a new bracelet and it couldn’t hurt to have it overhauled and a new crystal installed. Still, the watch seems serviceable enough to justify this additional cost. I may just put the work into this one that it needs and make it Teen Bot’s first real watch. Jennifer has been wearing a 1981 Seiko 5 for the last 13 years that she received as a hand-me-down from her mother. I was searching the internet for a suitable bracelet for the Seiko 5, and decided to drag out the Vostok and look for a bracelet for it at the same time. That’s when I found this.

That is a pair of watch bracelet pin pliers that I ordered for $11.00 after shipping. I figured I’d wind up paying more than that for a bracelet for the Vostok and would likely use them more than a few times. And, they might just work on what was left on the factory Vostok bracelet for that matter! Well, they did actually. Within fifteen minutes of receiving the package, I had the Vostok bracelet sized and adjusted, and I’m wearing the watch right now!

It’s funny. I never thought that I’d be one of those guys who had a bunch of watches. And yet, they’ve kind of accumulated. I do intend to get the Tag fixed when I can afford to. I’ve probably worn the Seiko diver that Jennifer bought for me before we were married more than all the others combined. If you’d like to start wearing mechanical watches but you’re worried about the price, I’d encourage you to consider the options. The purchase price of my higher quality watches ranged from less than a dollar on up to around a thousand. And, I’ve spent very little time wearing the thousand dollar watch. Conventional wisdom might cause you to shy away from anything but a Swiss or Japanese movement. The Seiko that I have worn so much, my trusty workhorse, has a Singapore-made movement. Do an Amazon search for “Seiko automatic” and I suspect you’ll find something you like for less than $100.00. That watch should provide a half century of performance with a little maintenance.

KTKC – Many Thanks!

You people are truly awesome. AWESOME. Twenty-four hours ago, I had not generated a single donation for the cause. I appealed to my readership in my frustration and have seen $150.00 $160.00 come in since then. With sixteen days left in the month, if we can keep this pace, we could raise $2400.00, which is very nearly $2560, which is over* half of the flippant goal I put on my page. You have no idea how happy that makes me. Big, big thanks to you all. And, if you haven’t donated yet, please do. Every bit helps – even five or ten bucks at a time will add up in a hurry. Please do give however much you feel called to.

*corrections made, as I got a donation while writing this entry.