Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handgun advice

I'm looking for advice regarding a first handgun. Yes, it's for me.

Now, I have actually owned a handgun in my life. A handgun. Owned a revolver. Left it with the ex-wife many years ago. She also had a handgun or two -- revolvers -- but she obtained them, I didn't. Except for that one that was left with her, as I mentioned.

Wife (number two) has several. Lots of revolvers, some shotguns, couple of rifles. She either bought them or inherited them. Anyway, she obtained them, not me.

I've never been much of a gun person. That is, never went to the range, never bought handguns (except for that one cheap revolver just to have for home protection). Only fired a handgun once, and that was, gosh, 40 years ago. It was a friend's and I really don't remember why.

Fired a rifle that my father owned. Little .22 that he kept for, oh, I don't know, birds, rattlesnakes, whatever. Only fired it a few times. And, that was well over 40 years ago.

Of course, in the Army, I fired some M16 rifles. Had an M16A1 issued to me briefly (nope, never fired it full auto), then M16A2 rifles for the rest of my time in service. I was an okay shot. Qualified as Sharpshooter but never as Expert.

I've recently fired a few weapons at a local indoor range. I'm not a great shot, but I think I'm decent at close range (7 yards). I'd probably ruin some bad guy's day, or at least, make it not turn out quite as well as he had planned. I've had no handgun training, of course, but I know some weapons basics from the Army and apply those.

Anyway, never owned a lot of firearms. But, I'm wanting to have something for personal protection around the house ... and when out of the house. I'm on the road a lot every week, and I'd just feel better if there was some protection available when I'm in certain places. And, yes, I've applied for a Georgia Firearms Licence, which is required to carry in public outside of home or vehicle, whether concealed or open. Georgia is a "shall issue" state.

But, as you can tell, I'm no expert. So I'm curious as to what would be a good personal carry weapon. Should I go with a 9mm? .380? Something smaller for a first weapon? Or is larger better? Should I forego a semi-automatic and get a revolver?

What would you suggest as a first weapon?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington's Birthday 2017

George Washington
I've been posting this -- or posts very much like it -- for over a decade. And I'm gonna keep doing it until everyone gets it right. Because it's important.

What's the problem? Some people call today "Presidents' Day." Those people are wrong. Don't be those people. Today isn't Presidents Day. It's Washington's Birthday. At least, that's the holiday. His real birthday is actually coming up on the 22nd, but today is the federal holiday honoring Washington's Birthday. Check out 5 U.S. Code § 6103.

When George Washington was born, the date was February 11, 1731. You see, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was using the Julian Calendar back then. There is an issue with leap years with the Julian Calendar, so the calendar was always slowly getting more and more inaccurate. Also, in England and the colonies, New Year's Day was on March 25. Go figure.

Anyway, in 1750, the U.K. changed to the Gregorian Calendar and fixed things. New Year's Day was now in January. The calendar dates were adjusted 11 days, which meant that, retroactively, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But that was only the first time people screwed around with his birthday.

The federal government did try to do right by Washington in 1879 when they added a fifth national holiday. Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, was added to the list of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Other holidays were added later, until we have the ten we have today.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, moving many of the holidays to Mondays instead of the proper or traditional day. Washington's Birthday was one of those. And, just like the government, they made it so it would never be right. The holiday falls on the third Monday in February, which means it can be as early as the 15th, and as late as the 21st. It will never be on the 22nd, which is when it actually is.

Some states used to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday on February 12th. Around half the states have state holidays honoring both Lincoln and Washington today. And, states can do that. Still, the federal holiday is, and has always been Washington's Birthday.

If your state celebrates more than just George Washington today, fine. Honor Lincoln and the other presidents that your state recognizes. But, there is a reason the federal holiday is simply Washington's Birthday. Don't forget to honor the man without whom we might very well not have this great nation.

George Washington. February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vlad the Impala

After 178,000 miles, I've retired Vlad, the Impala. And, yes, we actually called it that, because, well, it's funny.

I bought the car new in late 2007, and took care of it as best I could. Serviced it on schedule, tried to be a responsible owner, and I feel pretty good about the miles I put on it. Lately, though, it's begun to have issues.

A year ago, it developed an oil leak, and the dealership did some $2400 worth of work on it. Well, whether or not it was actually worth that much for the work, I can't say. That's what they charged though. But, to keep the car running, I had the repairs done. Well, recently, the oil leak returned. Took it back to the dealer, and they wanted $1800 to fix it, with the work being rework of most of what was done a year ago. Which, to my ignorant mind, wasn't a good thing. I figured if the car took 150,000 miles to get the leak in the first place, it should have been a while before the same leaks reoccurred. Silly me.

There was also some damage to the vehicle over the years. About five years ago, some clown backed into me at a gas station in Peachtree City, GA. He had picked up a waitress from a nearby restaurant, stopped at the store next to the restaurant -- where I was gassing up Vlad -- then backed straight into the car. His insurance wanted to give me some crap, but they never were able to refute that my car was turned off and I was out of the car, fueling it when he backed into me.

Around a year ago, I had an incident on a stretch of highway near Baxley, GA around 4:30 one morning. Slightly foggy. 65 MPH stretch of road. Four lane divided highway. Two deer, one in each northbound lane. Hit the brakes, swerved to the left (I was already in the left lane) and did a 180 in the median. Lots of superficial damage to the bumper from all the growth in the median.

Then, a few weeks later, near Brunswick on that same US highway one night, a large dog, one of two running beside the road, decided he wanted to cross the road instead. I was in the right lane this time, and he met the bumper on the driver side.

I kinda feel I was lucky in both incidents. The deer thing could have gone horribly bad. So could the dog thing, if he had gone under the car, since he was a large dog and the Impala sits pretty low to the ground. I've been in a vehicle where that actually happened, and don't recommend that experience.

Apart from those incidents, I always enjoyed my time in the Impala. It was a comfortable car, and the best car I ever owned. But the fact it was needing major work every year meant it was about that time. That or the dealership does crappy work. Still, 178,000 miles.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new car. Well, not a new new car, but a newer car. Didn't trade the Impala. They wouldn't have given me anything for a 2008 Impala with 178,000 miles on it and an oil leak. So, I kept Vlad and added Abe to the stable.

I turned Vlad over to my son to oversee selling it. I have all the receipts for services, repair work, tires, and turned all that over to him so he can show the history of the car, along with the details of the current issues. Maybe it'll sell. Maybe it won't.

I'm missing Vlad, but Abe is a nice ride. I hope I can get many miles and many years from Abe. Vlad set a standard that'll be hard to beat.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Aunt Martha

We buried Aunt Martha yesterday. She was my father's little sister. Not his youngest sister, but younger than he was. And, she wasn't a very tall person. She was on the short side, much like her mother, my grandmother, was.

Aunt Martha was always a hard worker who loved her family and loved her garden. But, Aunt Martha hasn't been the same for the last, oh, nearly nine years. That's when Uncle Dave passed. Some time after that, she moved into her son David's house.

Her later years were impacted by Alzheimer's. She knew it, of course, and it frustrated her. But one of the saddest things is that two of her grandchildren, David's children, may not be able to remember her as she was. They're not small children, but their last several years of knowing their grandmother were years of her being affected by the disease.

She was okay on some days, but was really dependent on David -- and David's wife, in particular -- for, well, just about everything. Even if it was nothing more than being right there. My last extended conversation with Aunt Martha was actually a pretty lucid affair. But, she was always checking to make sure her daughter-in-law was right there, or at least close by. She knew what the disease had done and was doing to her.

It is s shame that some of her grandchildren, and all of her great grand children -- her daughter's grandchildren -- won't be able to remember Aunt Martha at her best. Because she was one of the best.

We miss her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I think I accidentally bought a Windows tablet ...

For those that know I'm a Mac user and might wonder why in the world I'd want a Windows tablet, let me start with some computer background about me and the family.

I've been a user of Macs since 2007. I'm fairly heavy into the Apple ecosystem with a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air, an iPad Pro, an iPhone 6s, an Apple TV, plus hundreds of movies, many TV shows, and thousands of songs from the iTunes store. And that's just me. I've bought many other devices for family members.

Now, I'm not exclusively Mac. I have a fairly decent Windows desktop computer, as well as having virtual Windows computers on my MacBooks. The grandchildren use Windows computers still. All those that are double-digit ages got computers, and I've kept them updated every 3-4 years provided they swap them back to me. That ensures they take care of them. Not all do, but most of them do.

At work, I use a Windows computer. Not my choice, but what they assign me. I would prefer to use a Mac, but I cannot justify the extra expense to the company, so I use the Windows machine. I also log in and work remote regularly. That requires a Windows computer, which normally means my Windows desktop.

I was using a virtual machine on my Mac to log in to work if an emergency came up and I wasn't at home ... and had my MacBook with me, which I often did. However, my virtual machine (using Parallels) has recently encountered an issue with the shift key. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Caps Lock always works, but some characters (! @ # $ % etc) are only possible -- or feasible; I know about ALT-KEYPAD but prefer to not do that -- via the shift key.

Now, considering that in a year or so, I'll be updating at least three of the grandchildren's computers, and that it would be useful to have a reliable Windows laptop for emergency remote log in, I've been looking at getting a Windows laptop. The grandchildren's computers have all been Dell Inspiron laptops, which I've found reliable, and, until recently, easy to work on if necessary. But, as those three are looking to finish high school in another year, I'm thinking a better grade of laptop might be better for college.

Anyway, I've been looking at Dell's XPS line of laptops. I've never had one of those, and wasn't sure if it would be good to get one of those, or a MacBook. Getting an XPS for me would get me familiar with how good they actually are as well as solve my immediate need for a reliable emergency remote work computer. So, I've been looking at the XPS line.

They ain't cheap. But, I looked into the Dell outlet -- that's their discontinued and refurbished store -- and saw some XPS machines with solid state drives at pretty good prices compared to a MacBook. So, I shopped there for a bit. I wanted at least 256 GB drive, 8 GB RAM, and at least a 13-inch screen. However, it came down to "pick two." So, I went with the drive and RAM, and settled for a 12-inch screen, similar to what the MacBook line offers.

It came in last week, and when I opened the box, it was kinda sparse inside. A laptop and a power supply. Truly bare bones. So, I plugged the laptop in (USB-C connection for power) and let it sit for a bit while I took care of other stuff for a few hours. Then, that evening, after supper, I decided to dive in. First thing I did was open the device. That's when the screen came off in my hands.

I sat there for a minute with what I can only figure was a really stupid look on my face until I realized that it was designed to do that. It had connection pins and magnetic alignment to ensure they were touching. It was, in essence, a 12-inch Windows tablet and a full-size hard keyboard attachment.

The touchpad works very well, as good as my MacBook keypads. At least, so far. The screen is a little small (being old sucks), but I knew what I was getting into when I started. Changing the resolution (lowering it) has helped that a little.

So, I'm using a Windows laptop, specifically a Dell XPS 12, which is actually a tablet. (Note: Windows PC and mobile operating systems are the same, unlike Apple's macOS for computers and iOS for mobile.)

So far, so good. But I still feel a little stupid for not realizing what I was buying.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I got better

After a bout with ... well, whatever it was ... I'm much better now. Actually, I've been better for a bit. Only, it was one of those things where I wasn't sure if I'd suddenly relapse or otherwise need to see the inside of a hospital again. But, I'm pretty sure I'm better. I even have the word from a doctor that I'm doing better.

Briefly, I was hospitalized ... twice, or maybe three times ... with the same symptoms but for apparently different reasons.

First time, I passed out at work on a Friday, possibly from food poisoning. The following Monday, a visit to the doctor turned into a visit to the hospital, and a stay for a few days because of an apparent intestinal blockage. After a few days out, and a quick return to a normal diet, I went back in on Christmas Day with the same symptoms, but with no blockage found.

So far, there has been no definite reason found for all this, which means it could be a combination of things, or a thing still not determined. I'm going with a combination: food poisoning, followed by a temporary blockage exacerbated by a hernia, followed by my body not ready to process regular food.

I've continued my soft diet -- mostly stuff that you can either either with a spoon or with no utensils -- and slowly adding items from my normal diet. So far, so good.

Now, all that explanation accomplished one thing: it gave me time to think about what it is I really want to say. I want to say "thank you" to all that expressed concerns and offered prayers, kind words and thoughts, and wished me well.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Monday, January 2, 2017

How I spent my Christmas vacation

In the hospital
I do hope your Christmas and holiday time were joyful and a blessing. I know mine was, despite a couple of things: two hospital stays.

This post isn't to ask for any sympathy or anything, but to explain where I've been. For those that noticed I've not been online much.

On the 15th, I had supper at Atlanta Bread Company in Columbus. I got sick. How sick? The store is now closed. Really. Apparently many Atlanta Bread Company stores have been closing during 2016, if my Google search is an indication.

Anyway, I got sick at work the next day, passed out, and they called EMS to take me to the hospital in Columbus. They released me that night. Unable to eat the entire weekend, I went to the doctor on Monday, and he sent me back to the hospital with specific instructions. They said I had an intestinal blockage. Stayed there for a few days, then was released after it was cleared. After spending Christmas eve with many of the grandchildren, on Christmas morning, I drove to southeast Georgia to spend time with the other grandchildren. And went back into the hospital that night.

After a few days, I was released and have appointments with my doctor and a surgeon this week. We'll see how it goes.

So, despite spending many days in the hospital over the last half of December, I got to see all the grandchildren.

It was a good Christmas holiday.