Snapshot of a College Town

Sitting in the downtown Waffle House yesterday, I heard the folks at the next table discussing, in all seriousness, whether the rise of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars more closely resembles the transformation of Rome from republic to empire, or the rise of the Nazi regime prior to WWII.

Political history as presented in contemporary popular science fiction. Not as unserious as it sounds.

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Busy gun show

The great part about where I live is that the local gun shows are about halfway between my house and my parents. That means that Dad and I have gotten into the habit of meeting at the gun show and spending the day together. Yesterday, we met there and after we had finished wandering around the show I followed him home.

We knew that it would be crowded, and it was. Dad got there first and bought our tickets, after waiting in line for half an hour. Even with tickets in hand we had to wait in line to get in. By the time we made it in it was obvious that centerfire AR type rifles were in very short supply, and of the few that I saw the lowest price was $1250 – and while I’m no judge of AR’s, I think that one may have had something wrong with it. The next lowest was a bare bones model for $1500, that was similar to one I saw at the last show for about $800. Mini-14s were going for $850 minimum for a basic polymer stock model (Dad was irritated. He’s been thinking about selling his – an NRA edition that he paid about $600 for – and he realized he could probably have gotten a grand for it easily even before he got in the door.) The ammo tables were looking a bit anemic by 1:00, with empty pallets and most of the bins only about half full.

And while it was, as usual, full of exceedingly polite people – “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me”, and patiently waiting without a bit of shoving despite the crowding – the anger and concern were also quite palpable. This wasn’t a gun show that people were at to enjoy, it was a show that people were at because they were worried they wouldn’t get another chance. There was also a big fear that private sales will definitely be on the chopping block.

My objective was simple: some stripper clips for my Mauser. I didn’t find any of those, but I did pick up some ammo for it, along with some .45 FMJ for practice.

It was interesting, and a bit fun, but I hit my limit for crowds about halfway through (even if I did keep going). I think any anti-gun politician who wants a second term who saw that would (and should) be shaking in his boots right now.
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Still here…

I’ve just been busy.

Mmmmm, venison.

Dad bagged a couple of deer a year or two ago, and my parents were kind enough to give me some of the bits. The bulk of what I got was ground venison (my choice), but I also got a couple of steaks and a couple of tenderloins, too. I had been saving those for when I got a grill so I could do them right, but I still haven’t actually gotten around to buying one yet. I was starting to worry about freezer burn, so last night I took the steaks out of the freezer to thaw, and this is tonight’s dinner.

image

Unfortunately, I overcooked them a bit (I used the oven, and judged it wrong), but they’re still good eatin’!

I actually got to them just in time – they were starting to show a little freezer burn on one end – so I took the unburned ends for tonight (that’s half of each steak in the picture), and the the other ends have been cut up for an experiment in my slow cooker that I’ll be starting tonight. I’ll take pictures of that, too, and post the results tomorrow.

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Interesting evening

So, I come home from work and check the mail, and there’s one of those fancy tear-the-edges-off printed privacy-protection envelopes from the power company in the box. There’s also a power bill to someone else but at my address. So I open the fancy tear-the-edges-off printed privacy-protection envelope, and find a “refund check” from the power company. Now, this is a check for quite a sizable amount (for me), and it’s more than could be accounted for by an accidental double payment. So I go online to check my account, and see there’s a “Final Bill” showing.

WTF?

I still live here, I haven’t told them to close my account, and I haven’t been contacted to confirm that it’s okay to close my account.  But I have a strong suspicion based on that bill to someone I don’t know. So I call AEP’s customer service line (surprisingly with no wait at all), and the customer service rep confirms my suspicion – someone activated a new account at my address, so they automatically closed mine.

Fine. I’m a bit peeved that they didn’t bother calling to confirm that it was okay, but it’s fixable, there’s been no interruption of my service, and apparently they’re not required to (which doesn’t mean that they can’t, or that they shouldn’t, but whatever). Then he tells me that Virginia charges a $12 connection fee for “new accounts.” At that point I put my foot down, and told him (politely) “Hell, no.” It was their screw-up, not mine, and I’m not paying any extra costs to fix it. After we go back and forth with a couple of variations of “We have to,” and “Hell, no,” I ask for a supervisor – I’ve done this kind of work myself, and I know the first-line people can’t waive diddly-squat. The supervisor comes on, and she’s already waived the fee. I ask a couple of questions, and that’s it – everything should be taken care of.

I will give AEP this much: when I called customer service, there was no wait, and the rep and supervisor were helpful and polite. They should, however, give their CSRs the power to waive this fee in these circumstances. Of course, if they had just bothered calling me, they could have avoided the situation entirely.

But that’s not all that happened this evening.

First, a little background. A couple of days ago, I got a single cabinet with countertop at Goodwill, to give me room to actually prepare food – until that, my only counter space was taken up by my microwave. The cabinet is ugly, and doesn’t match anything else in the kitchen, but it was also only $10. Well, it turns out that it wouldn’t actually fit in my car for me to take home. That’s okay, because they’ll hold things like that for 2 days. So yesterday one of the attorneys I work with came out with his SUV to help me move it. When we pull up, there’s a cat sitting in my driveway. He stays there, perfectly calm, as we back in, and is still sitting there when we get out. Then he comes up to us. This is a very friendly cat, and obviously used to humans. He’s also rail thin, and you can feel every rib as you pet him.

I already have a cat. I’ve had two cats before, but it was a real stretch on my resources, and would be now as well. But the temptation was strong, and it didn’t help that when the attorney offered to help with the initial vet costs, including getting him fixed. I decided to see if he would come back when I came home from work, because I thought that maybe he did belong to someone. Well, after work there was no cat.

Today, I come home and the same cat comes wandering up and rubs against my legs. So I let him into the porch were he and my cat can smell each other through the gap under the door and start getting used to one another, and I get some food and water out on the porch as well. Then I go and take care of the power issue. After that was done, I went back on the porch, opened the door, and gave him the option of staying or going. After a few minutes, he wanders out and around the corner. I follow, but he’s out of sight already. Then I see a little orange fur on the other side of one of the bushes next to the house, so I go look.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t decide to keep him on the porch overnight. Because when I got around the bush, I saw this:

Sweet, crispy walnuts!

“He” is a she, and is nursing kittens! (Actually, this picture was taken later, but it was the same thing without the box.) There’s five of them, and they are heart-rendingly cute.

Later, the neighbors come out and confirm that she’s a stray that was probably abandoned, and that people in the neighborhood have been feeding her and some other strays that were also abandoned (they could, in fact, tell me exactly which house some of the local strays came from and when they were abandoned).

So, that lawyer I work with is coming over tomorrow so we can get these guys to proper shelter and eventually to good homes. I’m very likely to end up with a second cat, despite what my brain says I should do. I’m already calling the little orange and white one “Dreamsicle.”

For more “Awwww”, I took video!

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Today’s fortune cookie

You should be able to make money and hold on to it.

So true!

Never Forget

9-11-01

Never Forget

Holiday musical interlude

Van Cantos. A capella metal.

That’s right, a capella metal.

Check ‘em out.

Office shooting in New Mexico

Current reports are 6 dead, 4 wounded, and that the gunman is also dead. They’re calling it a domestic dispute.

This is still breaking news. Don’t be surprised if things change.

Edit: Looks like 6 = 5 + the shooter.

Oversight corrected

Today I finally installed one of these:

I had wanted to do this so I would have it up before Memorial Day, but the money just wasn’t there until now. No American house is a home without Old Glory.

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