Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dark, sleek and lethal

For doing down your foes there's no finer hammer than John Moses Browning's great gift to the world, the M1911 pistol in .45 caliber.

There are other guns that will do the job, but none quite so graceful and pleasing to the eye, so balanced and well-proportioned as the 1911, the apex of his career. Glocks and Sigs and XDs and all the rest will launch lead and run reliably, but they're just so much industrial hardware compared to a well turned-out M1911. Now this smooth dark S&W 1911PD with the scandium frame that I wrote about before is even more the sleek black lethal witch with the addition of these fine stocks from brother Bill Jeans of Morrigan Consulting. Bill's a Marine combat vet, a SWAT officer and one of the best and most practical firearms instructors in the world. Not least in his resume is the time that he was director of operations at my alma mater, the Gunsite Training Center in Paulden, AZ.
He's also a lover of all things Celtic, which is where he gets the name for his company. It's from him that I bought these stocks with the interlinked Celtic symbol on them. See his web page for a full explanation of what it means and how he uses it.
Made of G10 laminate and textured with small round holes, they stick tight to your hand when you grip the pistol, no matter how sweaty or wet it may be. More than that, they just make it look wicked.
It was a good gun before these stocks. Now it's even better.
Contact Bill for training. If you care enough for your own life and the lives of those you love to arm yourself, you should take the next step and let Bill teach you not just about shooting, but about fighting and the will to prevail.
Good stuff, good man. Wicked pistol.

To sleep, perchance to dream.

I've worked as an RN for almost 27 years, in ICU and ER and public health and home health and temporary staffing in all sorts of units and as a travel nurse.

I've worked in 22 different hospitals in 2 different countries, and the years that I've enjoyed most in all of that have been the those spent working in Intensive Care in various university hospitals.
I like the learning environment and the collaboration between the docs and the nurses and all the other staff.

I like to be able to pick their brains, to ask about what they've read lately and what's changing in medicine and surgery.
These guys bust their butts when they're on duty, and whenever they can grab 40 winks you'd best believe that they take it. They deserve it. Working in ICU is tough a lot of the time, but the reward, knowing when you go home that you held off the Reaper for another shift, is worth it.

Winter walkabout

Well, it's been an interesting week here, just as it has been for a whole passel of other folks around the country.

I drove home from Cincinnati to Frankfort on Wednesday morning in the middle of the blizzard that was cranking up just as I hit the road. Visibility was down to 50 yards in some places, and the secondary roads were pretty ugly. I found myself constantly reviewing all those snow-driving tips that I hadn't exercised in a long time. Made it all the way home without bashing into anything and then got my car stuck in the piled-up snow in front of the house. Yeesh.

I let the dogs out and we took a tour of the house and yard to look things over. I got this photo of one of our bird feeders, which pretty much sums up the state of things here in the Bluegrass
right now -

Yesterday we paid a young stalwart who was looking to raise some cash and build up his muscles to chip out the ice and shovel out the whole mess. Made for quite a pile. He's enlisting in the Marines, substituting snow hauling and tree clearing for his usual weight lifting during the current crisis. He was a Godsend and we wish him well. With his willingness to work and his gung-ho spirit he's just the kind of young man we need in the ranks. Good for him!

After the runways were open and dog transport "K9Krew-1" de-iced (check, check and check, ready for take-off) I got the dogs loaded up and we tooled around town for a bit to give them a breather. I waited until today to take them down to their favorite spot along the river because as things re-froze after the afternoon melt yesterday there was ice all over, and the dog-sled/station-wagon ain't the best in the slick stuff. Home again, tomorrow's another day.

Today we ran errands for awhile, then steered toward the river and our favorite playground. The dogs were fired up, keening and bouncing around as they realized where we were going. As soon as the doors opened they burst out of the car and scrambled all around the place, torn between stopping to sniff all the new "pee-mail" other dogs had left, and just plain running and jumping for joy.

Trailing along behind them, I was really happy for the clothes that I had worn as I got out to where the open spaces were being whipped by the breezes. My darling daughter in France has over the years sent to me several of what are known as "trucker's" or laborer's sweaters, basically a pullover with a zip closure and a turtleneck at the top. It's what all the guys out digging ditches and driving trucks and doing the dirty work in la Belle France wear every day. I love 'em. Worn over a polyester zip-neck fleece, (also from my sweetie, don't know what I'd wear if she didn't keep me in clothes) I was just toasty. The thing that I like about the zip-necks is that I can adjust the level of warmth in an instant, so that once I'm out of the car and walking around and warmed up I can keep from being over-heated by just lowering the zip and opening the turtle neck. With all them zip-thingies worn under a Carhart coat and my feet wrapped in Carhart poly/wool boot socks, I'm a toasty guy.

Of course, whatever I wear has to allow access to the Springfield XD45 on my waist and that dictates certain wardrobe elements as well. If all else fails, there's the M642 S&W in the front pocket, which has a trigger guard just large enough for my finger in those Duluth Trading company thermal gloves which are so handy and CHEAP (Wow, that all sounds like something out of Cosmo, don't it? Be at ease, gentle reader, I'll spare you the details of the underpinnings. Some things you don't want to know).
I try to pay attention to events around me so that I'll have the time that I need to deploy the XD45, but my hand on that Centennial in my pocket as I mosey along is comforting - just in case.

The dogs were having a grand time, with Sunny in particular in her element, very much feeling her Husky ancestry: bouncing around in the crusty snow, challenging Churchill to a scuffle. She raised him from a puppy, so she still favors him over the other boys. Watching her play with him always makes me wish that all of my girl dogs could have had puppies while I had them, so that we could see what kind of mamas they would have been.

(Sigh. Can't get through a day without missing Vanya and Lucie and Sergei, especially when the snow falls. Dammit.)

Once before when I was out in the snow on this open field I noticed strange ribbons of ice floating in the air, glinting in the light as they glided slowly to the ground to land in the snow. I kept watching for them, couldn't figure out where they came from and finally realized that they were melting off the wires from the power transmission lines far overhead. Before I knew where they originated I was mystified to watch them rocking in the wind, slipping back and forth in the air, easing down to the ground like snow-snakes. After the freezing rain we got that blanketed everything the whole of the area is like being in some store selling fantastic sculptures carved from crystal or molded from glass. But the ice covering everything else is a lot less benign than those gossamer slivers off the power lines.

Trees are down everywhere due to the weight of the ice that accumulated, and it's smart to pay attention when walking anywhere near the woods at the edges of our field. Ice breaking up and branches breaking down all make the same cracking sounds, an arrhythmic popping that was a constant background noise as we plodded over the crusty snow. I was watching the dogs and keeping my eyes and ears peeled the whole time, ready to hop if one of those cracks lasted too long and turned into that tearing sound that signals a widow-maker plunging down.

Some people might worry about the world ending in global heat or a fire, but I'm more threatened by the cold. Cold is merciless, a creeping death. It kills more quickly than overheating, and you can't just get under cover from it like you can take shelter from the sun. It soaks into things, draws life out of you, saps your energy, works its way into your core and alternately numbs and scalds your limbs and peripheral pieces as it inhales the heat from you. The worst "end of the world as we know it" scenario of which I can conceive is a world covered over with ice and snow, gradually fading into silence as the freeze immobilizes and crushes life.

So while I enjoyed being out in the snow along the river with the pack, as I stood on the bank and watched the river - running high almost at flood stage, carpeted with logs and debris, pocked with whirlpools popping up and sucking down branches before fading back into the current, all of it flying along in that opaque brown mass -  I was shivering, glad not to be in that heedless flow.

Makes me all the more happy to be back at the shack at the keyboard now, enjoying a coffee and hot chocolate mocha while the dogs splay out on their beds, catching up their nap time. Churchill is lying in front of the gas heater, worshiping the glowing orange plaques at his own private altar, jerking in little twitches while he grunts and dreams his doggie dreams.

Snow and ice and all that glistening beauty are fine for awhile, but give me the snug and the heat and a pack of snoring dogs at the end of the day. Let King Winter have the rest of the world for another night.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kudos to Clint Eastwood

Went and saw the new movie "Gran Torino" this weekend.
While the plot is conventional in most respects, Clint Eastwood does a great job of playing a man at the end of his life, showing a fragility that is so different from all the roles that preceded it. While he has no less piss-n-vinegar in his spirit, his character has the weaknesses that go with age, that force him to adjust and come to terms with his mortality.
I'ts not a GREAT film but it's a good one, and the personal values that Eastwood's character holds to are some with which I agree. I saw a lot of my own father in the man that he played. A lot of that had to do with the generation that was depicted (Eastwood's character is a Korean war veteran).
Well worth going to and cheering for. He makes no bones about how he feels and doesn't hesitate to follow his own lights when situations get tense. I liked it. Hey, how can you not like a movie where the guy carries a 1911 and a Garand to a fight?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Free and easy

Yesterday afternoon I looked up and in the skies above my house were over 80 vultures, wheeling and gliding in the wind in a tall rolling tube reaching hundreds of feet into the air.

Even in the dead of winter, socked in and no sun in sight, they soared in one of their vast dances in the air.
I don't know why they come to this area so often. Frankfort is in a river valley so maybe it's the updrafts and wind currents generated by the cliffs along the river, which is near my house. Maybe it's just some kind of social event. Maybe it's the legislature being in town. Who knows?
Whatever the reason for these amazing gatherings, I like watching them. Such huge birds with such long wings, making the whole act of flight seem so completely care-free and effortless. They move in circles first vast and then narrowing and closing in, moving up and down at will, changing altitudes with just a tilt and the flick of a wing-tip.
It appears that the large gatherings are different flocks or groups getting together for some kind of buzzard fly-in, since they finally split off into smaller groups and head out in different directions.
They may be ugly when they're on the ground, greasy and neck-deep in a deer carcass, but in flight they're glorious. In the spring when it's not so damn cold I lie in the grass and watch them for an hour or more at a time. In the winter, when the air is so silent from the chill and my heart is often as gray as the day, they lift my spirits.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In the midst of the doldrums

Well, it's official. I'm in the winter blahs, the doldrums, the seasonal affective whatevers.

The last couple of weeks, whenever I haven't had to work, I've done some errands and taken care of the dogs and cats, and done a lot of reading - and that's about it.

I keep thinking about things that I'd like to write about, things that I WILL write about at some point, but just can't get up the get-up-&-go to get it going. I've read some good books, such as a biography of fighter pilot John Boyd, the man who personally changed the nature of aerial combat forever. When you read stuff like that, it's not wasted time.
The cats like it, of course. We now have a heated pad on the bed along with some new bedclothes and a new blanket, and they think that having my large warm corpus in the rack is just dandy. I move around, they stand up and wait for me to settle in, then snuggle in again and it's back to snoozeville.
Our newest cat, Nikita, joined us last summer - or was it before then, in 2007? In any case, it took her awhile to decide how she felt about being in a house with dogs and another cat and me. Now, she follows me around and curls up in the crook of my arm while I read. It's funny how tuxedo cats seems to have such distinct personalities, or maybe we just assign personalities to them because of their unique faces.
Whatever - she's decided that the food's okay and the lodgings are tolerable, and that it's okay to play and enjoy herself and use me for a heating pad.
It's not like having our old tuxedo, Chin-chin, back with us, but it's nice.
More to come in the days ahead, many topics to cover. For now, it's off to work.