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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It Must Be The Day For Dumb Crooks...

Because in addition to the flying Bandito, there's Captain Chewtoy...

Ohio man says dog got the best of would-be burglar
A family in northern Ohio says a man trying to break into their home left behind a trail of blood after meeting their dog at the front door.

The family in Port Clinton says they were home when their 11-year-old pit bull named Mamma heard something at the door and began growling.
Pit bulls get a lot of bad press, the vast majority of which comes from improper training or mistreatment. The breed is no different than any other breed of canine: treat it with respect and love, and that's what is returned. Sounds like this dog was well-loved, and looking to protect its home and family.

Good dog.

I had to leave this in, because it's such a wonderful graf:
Tony Byrd Jr. tells The Blade newspaper in Toledo he heard screaming coming from the front of the house Sunday night and came out to see the would-be burglar shutting the door and running to a car.
Heh. I'll pause to let you stop giggling like a tickled hermit.

If I were a betting man, I'd say the guy trying to gain access probably startled or scared someone in the house. Dogs can sense that sort of thing very well, and this one reacted accordingly to stop the threat.

Again, good dog.

Many many years ago, when I was quite literally a baby, we had a German Shepherd my dad adopted from the local K-9 officer. It was named "Guenther" (long story), and to hear my folks tell it, Guenther was as lovable as the day is long, and showed no signs of aggression whatsoever.

Well, one day, my mom was home alone and one of Dad's friends stopped over. Being a cop family, right down the street from my grandfather (a town cop) in a small town where everyone knows everyone, Mom had left the front door open. Dad's friend knocked on the door, but Mom didn't hear him, so he walked on in.

My mom, not expecting to see someone in the house, gasped and jumped back a little. Guenther, who had been curled up fast asleep on the other side of the kitchen, hit the guy in less than a second, knocking him to the ground with his teeth firmly hovering over the man's neck. Guenther never broke the skin, but had Dad's friend so much as sneezed he would have needed reconstructive surgery.

It was immediately sorted out, and as soon as Mom introduced Dad's friend to Guenther, he was back to happy, lovable mode. I think Dad's friend needed a change of shorts...

Back to our story, good dog.

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

If They Were Smart, They Wouldn't Be Crooks...

Joseph in IL sends in a story of a stupid *and* unlucky criminal. Let's all take a moment to laugh at him, shall we?

Suspected burglar falls through ceiling, lands near police
Authorities say a man's plans to break into a Houston store fell through, after he crashed through the ceiling and landed in front of police.

Houston police say the man climbed a tree and onto the roof of a Family Dollar store early Sunday morning, then managed to break a hole in the roof and enter the building.
Again, I find myself trying to understand this person's "thinking". Why on earth would you think it's a *good* idea to break into a building via the roof? Are you unaware of gravity? What, precisely, was the plan *after* gaining entrance? Magically float down to the ground?

I guess it's a good thing that these criminals are so dumb. I'd hate to face intelligent criminals, because they might try to gain unauthorized access to our credit cards and bank statements. I guess it's better they hatch ill-conceived plots that involved the willing suspension of gravity rather than shoving a gun in someone's face.

You know, maybe we're better off with Guido the Amazing Flying Criminal...

That is all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Government Knows Best

I'm so glad Massachusetts elected a Republican governor. I mean, another Democrat surely would have expanded the Nanny state, right?

Crippling blizzard closes highways, schools in Massachusetts
Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and implemented a travel ban Monday as a crippling blizzard began to bring the state to a standstill and ravage the state's shorelines.

Forecasters are calling it a "potentially historic" storm that could bury communities with 2 feet or more of snow. National Grid warned that fully one-third of its 1.2 million customers could lose power.
(emphasis mine) Because government is responsible for telling you when it is and isn't safe to drive, right? I mean, telling folks that if they're out on the road they'll be ticketed and potentially arrested, why, that's nothing like an overreaching police state, right? I mean, this is public safety, right? Too many people out on the roads means the plows have a hard time clearing the road, so this is clearly a case of public safety.


I mean, it's not like the last time the State of Massachusetts declared a lockdown, they were allowing Dunkin Donuts to be open. Because it's all about safety, right? It has nothing to do with exercising petty authority over subjects or anything like that, right? I mean, capriciously allowing one business - one that is heavily trafficked by police and emergency workers - to remain open when others are forced at gunpoint to close (and if the police can confiscate your car for being on the road, the ban is literally enforced at gunpoint) is totally not tyranny.


Look, I will be the very first to admit that if you don't want to drive in the snow, don't. If you get nervous, tense up, drive irrationally, etc. don't. Call in sick. Call in scared. Make other arrangements with someone that doesn't mind driving in the snow. But for the love of everything that's good and wholesome, don't cheer on the nanny state when it forces businesses to close out of some nebulous "public safety" campaign.

I mean, think about how many lives could be saved every year if we banned driving all the time, right?

That is all.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Last Ride of the Season... Maybe.

Last year, my first winter in VA, we had uncharacteristically cold and snowy weather. I had put the Harley into storage in New Hampshire (at the dealership where it had been stored the past 10 winters) with the idea of getting it out once we had arrived in VA and gotten the move sorted, etc. It was shipped down in April once the snow was long gone and I enjoyed a longer riding season over the summer.

Riding in VA is different than New England. There were days in July and August where I took the Harley to work and the ride home was darn near unpleasant - 90 degree weather and stop-and-go traffic on an air-cooled motorcycle is a recipe for burnt thighs. But the season starts much earlier and ends later - or, as I've found out this month, doesn't really end at all.

New Year's Day I got together with a co-worker who rides for a New Year's blast through north-central VA. We put about 50 - 60 miles on the clock in ~ 35º weather before the extremities started squawking. And this past weekend, after a hectic week at SHOT Show, I looked at the thermometer, figured it was warm enough for a ride, and put a couple dozen miles on around the block (I didn't go that far because the roads were wet and had sand and salt in spots; Mrs. G. didn't raise any dummies).

Even if I don't get out until spring, that's mid-March, meaning the season only ends for three months (really more like two and half). Considering that up in MA the season really didn't start until mid-April, and ended at the end of October, this is a welcome change. While it might be too hot to ride sitting in traffic, on weekends and on less-traveled roads, it really never gets too hot to ride - and I invested in a good "warm weather" jacket so I'm always covered.

There's an awful lot to like about living in Free American, South...

That is all.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Getting My @$$ Kicked...

I know, I know, not a lot of sympathy on this one... Sorry about the lack of posting this week. For those that are friends with me on the Book of Face, you know that I'm in Vegas for SHOT Show this week. I've had about eight minutes to breathe so far this week...

I know, I know, "sympathy" is in the dictionary between s**t and syphilis...

I've been on the go from 7AM until about 10PM every day, and given that I'm still on East Coast time, I'm getting up at 9 AM (EST) and staying up until 3AM... Throw in eating crap, or simply not eating, and I've been getting all kinds of run down. But there's only one full day left...

Will be back to regular posting next week.

That is all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sometimes, The Barn Find Is Legit...

Libertyman sent in this very cool story.

'Extremely rare' cars found in dilapidated barn
Proof that priceless barn finds are still possible emerged from France when elite auction house Artcurial disclosed it had discovered the automotive equivalent of Tutankhamun's tomb.

Earlier this year, Artcurial's Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff came across the remarkable treasure trove of rare automobiles on a provincial farm in the West of France.
Basically, the people that owned the farm discovered the cars when they inherited said farm from their father, who had inherited it from his father. Apparently, Grandpere Farmer had collected old cars and stored them in various places around the farm. Rare finds like this near-intact Ferrari:

(from link)

As well as a number of other, older, far more rare vehicles were found in various states of disrepair. Ferrari, Bugatti, Maserati as well as French marques are represented, as well as a number of historical French fire engines. Oh, if those vehicles could talk...

Thanks for sharing, Libertyman!

That is all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #64

Brad in MA telegraphed this week's car in e-mail to me. He nailed it, long before I had a chance to put it up:

(picture from here, and if you ask me, $20K is practically a *steal* for that car...)

Yes, today's car is none other than the 1964 (and ½) Ford Mustang, the original Pony car. Dad G. had one of these as his first new car, and as a true testament to New England winters, by the early 1970s it had completely rotted out, including the frame. But not before Mom G. caught the engine on fire. No, I don't know. Over 40 years later and she still won't own up to what happened...

I know Dad still thinks about that car from time to time; they drove it down to Florida the first year he had it, and the memories are with him still, some 50 years later. They were on their (belated) honeymoon, having been married in January (two weeks from tomorrow is their 50th) and drove to Florida for a week later in the year.

A new wife, a Mustang convertible, and a road trip to Florida. I gotta say Dad, you're doing this "life" thing right...

That is all.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

About That Driving...

Oddly enough, this has nothing to do with snow, even though schools were closed yesterday because we had a dusting that didn't even stick (not kidding, BTW).

No, we need to have a discussion about green lights. Specifically, how to act when you approach one. You see, there's this intersection I come to every day where I - and many other commuters - take a right. There's a traffic light, and our side has two lanes turning left. The other side of the intersection is a dead end and often only has one or two cars.

Well, the geniuses that set up the intersection put both left turns on the same light. Which means that the light stays that way for quite some time, as the cars on our side are numerous, while the other side is done quickly. You would think this would mean a lot more on our side would make it through the red light (after stopping , of course), RIGHT?


People can't even make it through a green light here. The road we cross is a main drag, and there are two lanes turning left into where I am. This means my light has a green arrow, since no traffic is coming anywhere near the lane (my lane) turning right. Again, you would think that making a right turn on a green arrow would be easy.

You would be wrong.

It frequently takes two light cycles to get through this light, because cars often leave 5, 6, 7, or more car lengths getting through the light. Often, one car turns, and is a good pace down the road before the next car turns. On a green light...

Right turn on a green light is not hard, people...

That is all.

Wait. What?

Gun control group: Foiled Boehner plot ‘wake-up call’ for background checks
A leading gun control advocacy group said Wednesday that it hopes a foiled plot by an Ohio bartender who authorities say threatened to murder Speaker John A. Boehner is a “wake-up call” for congressional Republicans to approve legislation tightening gun-purchase background checks.
There's just one little inconvenient truth:
The bartender, Michael R. Hoyt, told authorities that he was Jesus and that Mr. Boehner was the devil and that he blamed the congressman for getting fired from his job before he had a chance to put something in his drink, according to an affidavit.
Got that? A nutjob threatened to poison the Speaker of the House, so that means we need background checks. Of course. Obviously those evil guns poisoned that poor man's mind and made him threaten Boehner.

Now, there is something there, in that the man did own at least two firearms and obviously was not right in the head. But you know what? That's not a gun thing. That's a mental health thing. A background check isn't going to stop someone that's bugnuts crazy but not getting help - and since this troubled man's mother already took away his rifle (after he blasted a hole in the floor), it seems like he needs help.

Look, I get it. It is kinda scary that someone so unhinged is just out there, walking among us. This dude needs help, and I really do hope that he gets it now that he's brought attention to himself. Background checks, however, aren't going to fix this. Unless he's been involuntarily committed, he'll pass a background check. We need to take a long, serious look at mental health in this country and see about making some serious fixes.

Except that doesn't fit in a soundbite. And it's hard. And it involves making actual decisions - i.e. is this guy really bug nuts crazy or just a little weird; is this something that requires a straitjacket and lithium squirted down the throat with a turkey baster or perhaps just a counselor and some muscle relaxants? Hard questions, ones we have been studiously avoiding for many decades now.

But yeah, magic thinking, implement background checks and this all goes away. Riiiiight.

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ID? They Told Me That Was Racist/Sexist/Ageist/Nationalityist...

Curiouser and curiouser...

New York City launches municipal identification card program
New York City has launched its municipal identification card program, the largest in the country, which officials say will allow immigrants living in the country illegally to access key city services they were previously unable to obtain.

The card, dubbed IDNYC, was approved last year and became available to New Yorkers on Monday. It is aimed at those who do not currently have a government-issued ID, including the elderly, homeless and an estimated 500,000 immigrants in the city who live in the U.S. without legal documentation.
Okay, wait. Wait wait wait. Haven't they been telling us that requiring an ID to vote puts an undue burden on the poor/elderly/minorities/whatever? That it was unfair to [insert whatever group is being pandered to at the moment]. Requiring ID to vote has been likened to a "poll tax" - a tax on voting - ignoring, of course, that every state that requires a permit to carry a firearm is charging a tax on exercising Second Amendment rights...

Looking at the "reasons" that voter ID is "unfair", it seems to boil down to either "those people are too stupid to get ID" or "those people are too poor to get ID". Well, then, why can't we use this model? If NYC can hand out nearly half a million IDs for free, why can't they require IDs to vote?

I think we all know the answer, don't we?

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Monday, January 12, 2015

We Like Cool Things... this awesome engine rebuild video Stretch sent in. I have no idea who these guys are, but they are good...

I may have mentioned a time or two that I am envious of folks with the mechanical aptitude to take something apart, rebuild it, and put it all back together again so that it works. It's not so much the mechanical aptitude I lack; it's more the patience required to double- and triple check every step to make sure I'm doing it right.

I love cars. Always have. Ever since I was a little boy I've loved everything with wheels and an engine. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, lawn mowers, tractors; you name it, I like it. Hot rods, jacked up pickup trucks, custom motorcycles; there's little out there that doesn't get my interest.

I've never been one for working on cars, though. I guess in a way it's because I know my limitations. I used to install car stereos (*that* I was pretty good at back in the day; I was pretty decent at re-routing wires and hooking up amplifiers and such), and one time, working on a friend's car in his parents' garage, I was having a devil of a time putting the dashboard back together after an install. At one point, I got out of the car and threw the screwdriver down in disgust.

And it stuck. In the concrete floor of the garage.

So yeah, there's a reason I don't do much more than change lights and batteries...

That is all.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #63

There was only ever one numerical car for today's post...

(the handsome gentleman in the picture is my cousin - and yes, that's his '63 'Vette...)

1963 Chevrolet Corvette. The one, the only, the single year of the "split window" 'Vette. The first year of the second generation Corvette, the '63 was important for a number of reasons. When the Corvette was introduced a decade previous, it was a pretty radical departure for GM - for all American car manufacturers, actually. A low-slung, two-seat sports car? Bearing in mind the automotive industry was still in its early years (only 45 years prior to the Corvette was the model T Ford, and we lost four solid years in WWII), and it's easy to see how the 'Vette was a gamble, a toy for the idle rich that, only twenty years prior, were the only people who could afford to eat...

But the Corvette not only survived, it thrived. It did so well Ford was pushed to introduce the Thunderbird two years after the Corvette. The Thunderchicken was phased out in the '90s, brought back as a boutique car, and was phased out again. The Corvette skipped one year while they retooled for the fourth generation (after some 14 years, the longest generation extant), but has been going strong for 62 years now. The Corvette could be collecting Social Security, that's how long it's been around.

And just wait until later, when they come out with the 650 horsepower Z06...

That is all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

People Are Stupid...

So, yesterday we had our first snowfall. Much like in New England, the first snow of the season is always a special occasion, and by "special" I mean "filled with a kind of stupid that brings about a frothing rage." I saw, in no particular order, the following:

*A person stop at a red light, and then - while the light is still red - make a U-turn into oncoming traffic. Mind you, the oncoming traffic had both a green light and was heading downhill. In the snow.

*A woman in a Mustang convertible STOP IN THE TRAVEL LANE on the highway to clear the ice off her windshield wipers. Stopped. IN THE TRAVEL LANE. She just brought her car to a stop and hopped out and started clearing - AND LEFT HER DAMN DOOR OPEN.

*A jackass in a black F-150 who, despite the two lanes of traffic attempting to merge onto the completely packed three-lane highway, dove into the breakdown lane and rode straight into the thick of things. A double damnation on the imbecile who let him in.

I left my house at 6:15 yesterday morning. I arrived at work, some 18 miles away, at 9:00. I could have biked to work in less time.

There were dozens of other, smaller stupid instances, like - yet again - idiots who stop on a snow-covered hill, or morons who make right turns on red despite oncoming traffic. Those are so common as to not even be worth mentioning otherwise. Like the dunderheads in their $80K luxury cars that don't understand the concept of "mashing the gas to the floor only makes the rear tires spin faster"...

It's funny how the same types of idiots exist in both the northeast and in northern Virginia...

That is all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 5, 2015

More Homeowner Trials and Tribulations...

Checked a bunch of little projects off the honey-do list this weekend. Freedom House is ten (going on 11) years old, and little things are starting to wear out, as they tend to do. We've rebuilt one toilet already, and this weekend I rebuilt two more (really just dropping in a new fill valve, which is so pitifully easy even I can do it).

The second toilet rebuild took about five minutes, start to finish, and if I'd had a third valve handy, I'd have gone down into the basement and rebuilt that one as well, that's how easy it was. It's nice to have toilets that flush again... Y'know, it's funny. A $7.50 part and all of a sudden there's no more flush toilet. Pretty much the hallmark of advanced civilization and it can be thwarted by a $0.10 piece of plastic. But I digress.

Also tackled the cold water pipes in the basement, and got about 24 feet covered in insulation. We'd been seeing some condensation when running consecutive loads of laundry, so the pipes got wrapped, and it's a good thing I tackled it when I did, because I found out that the freezer had stopped working...

As it turns out, I caught it pretty soon after it stopped working, because 90% of the contents were still frozen (and the remainder was close enough). The freezer is fine, it turns out; the electrical outlet it was plugged into gave up the ghost. Now, me and electrical work, we have an understanding. I don't attempt it, and it doesn't kill me.

I messed around with some serious electrical in another life, and came very close to making a rather permanent mistake, so I'm a little leery of playing around with anything more electrical than swapping out batteries in the smoke detectors, so I'll defer to an electrician for this (we need to have an electrician out for unrelated work anyways).

One of the things I thought about installing in the basement is a light fixture with an electrical outlet wired in. Dad G. had a couple put into his new workshop, and it seems to be exactly the solution I need for my work area. I picked up a couple cheap 4' fluorescent lights, and with the plug in the light socket, I can turn on both the fluorescent and the standard bulb at the same time.

Then I saw this:

Socket with Outlets.

I've got to be missing something. For $2.50, I get a pair of plugs I can screw into a light socket and control either with a light switch or a pull chain (there's two lights in the workshop, each controlled separately). I think I might pick up a couple and an extra fluorescent fixture and have more light in the basement.

Anyone have experience with these, good or bad?

That is all.

Darn You, Stretch!

I could have lived my whole life without knowing this was out there...


Take a super duty truck chassis. Build a state-of-the-art recreational vehicle around it. Add in true off-road capabilities and you've got an RV that can travel pretty much anywhere on the planet. I know there are other companies that make similar vehicles (there's one that does this on the Ford Econoline 4WD model whose name escapes me right now).

It's supremely expensive - the used model in the picture above is selling for over $300K - and uttlerly impractical, for sure. But I tell you this right now: If I were to hit the lottery, you had damn well better believe I'd be placing an order for the biggest model they can make. There's something about that setup that just begs to be taken on a very long road trip - and believe me, if you can afford that rig, you can afford the gas.

So, anyone got a spare $400K they aren't using at the moment?

That is all.