Monday, December 31, 2007

Choices, Choices

Ok, this is time for folks to chime in and offer some thoughts...

I popped into the gun store the other day, and I am contemplating a trade/purchase.

Having given it a shot, it just plain FEELS WRONG to shoot offhand long gun (and I can't hit the broad side of the barn). Given that w/o a collarbone present on the strong side, lighting off anything much more vigorous than a .22 has all kinds of potential for unwanted festivity, the .45-70 Marlin and the 12ga pump seem more like dust collectors (pretty ones, in the case of the Marlin lever).

My current uber-discreet carry is the rather anemic Keltec P32. Dandy little pistol, accurate within its designed range, dependable. Won't say a word against it. .32acp, however, is just a bit anemic for my tastes given a choice.

However, for carry in situations where discretion is somewhat less critical or the local dress code somewhat more carry-friendly I'd like to upgrade from my Firestar 9mm. I'll admit right out I'm a partisan of the .45 family...

That said, as I meandered into the shop it was doing a booming business (always a good sign) with a staff of 6, a dedicated buyer, and knowledgeable and personable folks on that staff - all talking to customers ranging from grizzled oldsters to mid-twenties couples of variegated hues and orientations. My kinda place...for perfection all it needed was another couple of hundred square feet, a pot-belly stove with coffee brewing on it, and a chessboard.

I found myself with a series of choices in a compact .45 (and feel free to chime in with more). The compact Glock 30 .45, the Firestorm sub-compact .45, the Taurus PT 145, and finally the Springfield XD .45. All are new, all range between $530 and $589, and offer between 7-10 rounds in a magazine.

I figure I toss my 9mm Firestar into the deal (I've always viewed the 9mm as having the ballistics of a glorified .38 special) with the two long arms, and I come out ahead a fair chunk of closet space and down under $50, cash-wise. Might even make some money back. And I come out with a practical carry gun that doesn't have "better than nothing" as one of its virtues.

So. What do you think? I've always enjoyed firing the Glocks, haven't spent any range time with a Springfield of any flavor, about the same with the Taurus, and aside from the caliber, my only issues with my current Firestar 9mm is the caliber and the weight when compared with a Glock.

I'm still pondering, but hope to decide within a month or so....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Global Warming, Portents, Journalism

Award-winning journalist and writer David Lindorff, pundit these last 34 years at the New York Times and then the Baltimore Chronicle (between books) on Christmas Eve submits an intriguing little editorial "Global Warming Will Save America from the Right...Eventually" wherein he waxes enthusiastic about the "drowning of the Red states" in the current liberal fantasy of global warming.

Read it, and get a good idea of what the left thinks of us...and what sort of fair journalistic coverage we can expect to get.

If it wouldn't harm so many so much, I might wish for Lindorff to get his mass migration - sans the malicious disenfranchisement.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Changes & Needs

Merry Christmas.

On this holiday, I urge each of you to cherish your loved ones and the precious moments you share with each other. And listen to your heart - it'll tell you some damned silly things, but we're rather silly creatures, for what that's worth.

This was my first Christmas without my father. I didn't understand at the time why, but while writing the obituary, managing the legal/fiscal immediacies, doing the funeral arrangements, arranging a funeral reception with reasonable grace and dignity - the one thing that was important enough to me to shift me from sweetness/light/cooperation to "dig in the heels, obstinate, emotionally messy" was a desire to at least celebrate some portion of the holiday at the familiar family manse.

My younger brother and his wife had proposed to do the whole thing at their house, and I concurred in the dinner being there (reluctantly, as I am awful traditionalist - some things, in my view, should only be changed at gunpoint), but for reasons I didn't understand I dug in my heels at the "haul everything over there" part.

Ritual. For some more than others, it's something we cling to - patterns of behaviour that allow us to pretend that life makes sense, that all is right with the world - or that, at least, rightness is at least within the realm of the achievable. It can allow us to lie to ourselves convincingly about the degree to which we actually control our world. See "silly" above.

Despite our best efforts at responsible decisions, pragmatic planning, and prudence thousands of variables (variables to which our happiness or lack thereof are completely irrelevant) every day affect our fate - from the minutiae of arterial function, to human interaction, to grand piano's falling from great heights.

The routines and rituals of daily living allow an awful lot of us to either accept that, or drive the reality of that into "plausible deniability". Birthdays, holidays, Christmas.

See again, "we are a very silly species".

I understood why I'd dug in my heels so firmly on Christmas morning as my nieces, Mom, and younger brother and his wife opened packages - and while I opened a few, I was mainly relaxing for the first time in over a week, and possibly over six months.

I miss Dad, and if I could have him back in good health (something he'd not enjoyed in 20 some years), I'd be willing to take the bullet myself. But that's not going to, and can't, happen. But while I'd held myself together for the sake of the family, I realized the one thing *I* needed was a reassurance that life and family would go on in the face of our loss.

I'd bounced out at 8:30 am, done a whirlwind cleaning, made shortbread cookies, laid out an appetizer spread, prepared beverages, and done a last minute check to see that all was "in place".

And as my nieces squealed and giggled, and my brother and his wife warmed as they saw Mom enjoying herself - I leaned back, sipped my coffee, and breathed. And this evening, looking back, I understand (I think).

Tired, but satisfied. Mom thanked me about as effusively as a Midwestern Depression kid can for assembling Christmas when she couldn't - right down to stocking stuffers, fresh cookies, and presents under the tree. Turns out she needed that, too, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Ritual. Pretty damned silly, but pretty damned important - like a lot of emotion-based stuff.

I'm taking from this a fairly simple lesson - when folks are grieving, don't screw with their routines and rituals even if you have good intentions, unless it's absolutely necessary - and if you must change stuff up while folks are grieving for whatever reason, provide the closest simulcra to the abused ritual that you can - it may just be the ritual someone is clinging to for sanity in the face of tragedy. It's not nice to mess with it.


My father has passed.

Over time he was son, brother, friend, soldier, singer, pianist, craftsman, organist, patron of the arts, philanthropist, husband – and to me, always my father.

The time we shared improved with age, and we made our peace as adults, and my own illness brought us, if anything, closer. We learned to laugh at each others eccentric humor, and largely tolerate each others eccentricities.

I took him to the old Prayer'n'Doctorin' hospital, now the Eastern Campus of Great Big Hospital Complex, in June for what we all anticipated was a brief hospitalization for a resurgence of cellulitis. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Six months later we are here and Dad has passed, having said a long and difficult goodbye, with a final rally we all hoped was the first signs of recovery. He was speaking again, with difficulty, but that was a relief to him frustrated conversationalist that he was.

For those unfamiliar, an ischemic bowel occurs when a greater or lesser portion of the gut dies off. In this case, this was complicated by multiple medications (Coumadin, among others) leading to severe internal bleeding and a prognosis best scored in negative numbers.

Sunday, Mom was conversing with Dad. Monday night, we got the call Dad was being shipped to Southern Major Medical Place. Screaming in from various directions, we found Dad medically crashing in slow motion. Tuesday we sat with him as he joined his final battle, until he passed at at approximately 7:30 in the evening.

After six long months of struggle, I can only believe that he is in a better place, chatting with his friends and family who have preceded him, sharing coffee and fellowship as he awaits each of us to join him in our own time.