Friday, August 31, 2007

Growing Up with Guns

When I was a (younger) kid, I was fascinated by guns. Watching old westerns and WWII themed movies with my dad had much to do with that, I'm sure. My dad always owned guns, and he grew up around them as well. Dad and I would regularly make trips to the desert to ride dirt bikes and shoot, and I have many fond memories of those trips.

The first rifle that was solely mine was an M1 Carbine, much like the one pictured above. I had a fondness for this little carbine, since I had seen it so many times in WWII movies. Being that it was much smaller than standard rifles, it fit my small young frame well. I think I paid a little less than 100 dollars for it, and am astounded by the prices of them today (about 1100 bucks I think). I used mostly my money, and my dad helped a bit with the cost.

The M1 Carbine is only effective out to about 300 yards, but can be wielded with deadly accuracy in the hands of a skilled shooter. My first trip to the desert after purchasing the carbine was an exciting one. I was looking forward to shooting it for the first time, and almost thought about riding dirt bikes as an afterthought. While driving down an unpaved desert road to our shooting spot, we spotted a good size rattlesnake on the shoulder of the road. My dad stopped the truck so that we could get a look at it. Dad hates rattlesnakes, as do I. I asked him if I could shoot it with my new rifle. "Well, I hate to see a rattler hanging around in a well traveled area; go ahead," he replied.

I got my new carbine out of the back of the truck and carefully loaded a few rounds into the detachable magazine. Since I had never fired it before, I had no idea how it would shoot. We approached the snake, which was still coiled up on the side of the road, and I took aim. I was well outside of the snake's striking distance when I shouldered the weapon. I squeezed off a round and was pleased to see that it had found its mark. My dad was very impressed. I was overjoyed. The little carbine had very little recoil, and that first shot gave me confidence in its accuracy. I carefully cleared the weapon, Dad checked it, and I put it back in its case for the rest of the drive to our shooting spot.

When we got home that night, Dad was boasting to my mom about how impressive a shot I had made. "It's not easy to hit such a small target with an unfamiliar rifle," he said. I don't think my mom was nearly as impressed as my dad would have liked, but she was pleased that we had a good time.

I got to be very skilled with that little carbine, and put many a round through it. I find myself wishing that I still had it today.

Electronics Woes

Having made a couple of recent purchases of various electronic components, I've learned a couple of valuable lessons. First: sucks when it comes to tech support. Second: Don't ever buy a USB flash drive (thumb drive) from Centon; their products are pieces of junk.

I purchased a wireless adapter card for my son's desktop from, and it came with no driver, instructions, or anything. I contacted the geeks via their online contact form, and have as yet to receive a response (going on two weeks now). I ended up going to the manufacturer's website and downloading the necessary driver and installation instructions. Thanks geeks.

I also recently purchased a 4 gigabyte
USB flash drive made by Centon. It seemed like a great deal at the wary of "great deals" when it comes to electronics. Their thumb drive seems to get tired when copying large files to it. It will download a bit, stop, rest, download a bit more, and then rest some more. Heck, my old 512MB drive was lightning fast in comparison. I'm waiting for a response from them as to whether or not they have an updated driver for the damned thing. The problem with that is, when I try to use it on another computer, that latest driver won't be installed. I think I bought a piece of junk. Great features, combined with horrible performance, adds up to a piece of junk.

From now on, when I find myself in need of any type of electronics, I will NOT cut corners. I'll stick with reputable manufacturers, and high-end products.

In the mean time, I'm going to see how far my slingshot will launch a 4GB thumb drive from my 9
th floor balcony.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back from Okuma

We've returned from our one week vacation to Okuma. We had a great time, and found ourselves wishing that we could have stayed longer. The weather was great, and everyone had a good time. We took a trip in a glass bottom boat, rode jet skis, got beat half to death on a "ski tube," and spent plenty of time playing in the water.

Next week I'll be back to work, and the kids will be back in school. I'm reminded of the Staples commercial where a man is school shopping with his obviously unenthusiastic children with "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" playing in the background. While my wife and I thoroughly enjoy the company of our kids, it's also nice to get back to a regular routine. The kids tend to get a bit edgy after spending so much time together. They are always well behaved, but they do bicker a bit when they spend the whole summer together.

I'll be back in school on September 3rd, so I'll be a bit busy for several weeks thereafter. Since I enjoy school now, I don't mind staying busy. I'm looking forward to continuing down the path of higher education, and challenging myself academically. I'm sure that my parents continue to be amazed by my fondness for school. Amazed or not, I'm willing to bet that they're tickled pink.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Out of Touch

It's time for the family and me to head to Okuma. That's the military resort on the north end of Okinawa that is a dream come true.

I talked with my friend Gawfer today, and realized that I hadn't transfered any of my pictures from my feeble old blog to my new one. That would be the reason for the spat of pictures. I also realized that I've been remiss in taking pictures of Okinawa in general. I'll have to do a better job of that from now on.

In a nutshell, I'll be out of touch for about a week (darn), and I won't be answering the phone, emails, etc. That breaks my freakin' heart. I'm sure that the world will survive without me for a week (maybe). I'll be back in uniform, defending the rights of all in about a week and a half. Until then, remember that alcohol is temporary, while video is much more permanent...hehehehe. Semper Fi.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Own Motivational Poster

Since a few folks seemed to thoroughly enjoy the pictures of the motivational posters I put up a few days ago, I decided to make my own. You can view many readers' submissions by going here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

BluRay or HD HDVD?

As many of you know, the battle of the high definition disc formats rages on. It's almost amusing to watch, but it's disturbing when one thinks back on the fight between Betamax and VHS. How many people bought Betamax players, only to have them become obsolete when VHS took the lead? They were left with an expensive player that they couldn't find movies for.

The same dilemma faces today's shoppers. While both BluRay and HD DVD players have been reduced in price, the HD DVD players lead in sales due to drastically lower prices (and they've been out longer). Unfortunately, BluRay leads in sales of movies, because the movies are cheaper, more abundant, and the wildly popular Sony Playstation 3 comes with BluRay capability built in. I think that Microsoft really screwed up when they didn't include HD DVD playing capability in the Xbox 360 as a standard feature (customers have to buy it as an option).

In addition, Sony PC's can now be had with BluRay players/burners built in to them. Add to this the willingness of movie studios to join the fray, and you have a real mess. The latest blockbuster movies being released in high definition formats are being released on one format or the other. Spiderman 3 will only be available in BluRay, while some others will only be available in HD DVD. Smart consumers won't give in to temptation, and will wait to see which format wins before purchasing a player.

I, for one, will NOT buy one of these golden machines until it becomes clear that the disc format will remain available for years to come. If I had to guess, I'd say that BluRay will probably win out; but that's just a guess.

Take the poll in the sidebar!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Iraq and Such

Some people say that war is hell. Some of those people have never participated in warfare. I believe that if they had, they would probably use the same words to describe it. There really are no words in the English language to describe the human experience when it comes to warfare. War is indeed hell, and men really do cry for their mothers when they are dying.

These pictures are just a few little reminders of what our young men and women are going through while we sit in our comfortable homes. Tip of the spear:

Friday, August 3, 2007

Latest Adventures

Since I've been away from work for the last month, and will be for another week, my regular routine has been all messed up. As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended a maintenance management class for three weeks, and I'm now attending the Radiation Safety Officer's Course, which lasts for two weeks.

I'm learning everything that I never wanted to know about radiation and radioactive materials. Some of it is very interesting, but much of it is not. In addition, the overwhelming majority of it does not apply to what I do. This course can be, however, worth a few bucks outside of the military, since it's very expensive for civilian companies to get this training for their employees. The course is mandated and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the NRC also requires any commodity that transports, stores, or routinely handles radioactive materials, or radiation producing devices, to have a Radiation Safety Officer that has received this training. The course is also ACE accredited, and is worth five semester credit hours (two upper level!).

Upon completion, I will have been away from work for five weeks. I'll then be back to work for a little over a week before going on leave for a week at the beach resort at Okuma. What a shame (sarcasm).

After our mini-vacation, the kids will start school again, as will I. I've enrolled in a web development course, and another creative writing course. I already got my books, and continue to be amazed at the prices of these golden texts. For 55 dollars, I received a small, soft-cover handbook for the creative writing class. How many of you would pay 55 dollars for a paperback book? Unbelievable.