Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Friday morning I’m picking up my 1945 manufacture M44 from Big5. Ninety dollars or so after tax - it’s a sale week!

Matching numbers on the stock, bolt, and receiver. There’s a stock repair on the lower edge of the butt, but it looks to be an arsenal fix. The bore is sharp and clean, exterior metal is evenly worn with very little pitting and the wood to metal fit is surprisingly good.

I stopped in on my way home from work just to check their inventory. I do this often on Fridays when the traffic is bad. I thought the Yugos were the only sale running this week and was surprised to see the Russki up there with a pink tag on it. The clerk handed me two paper towels before handing over the rifle. It’s nasty with cosmo. They won’t take off the trigger locks unless you are actually buying the weapon so I wasn’t able to pull the bolt out. Turning the bolt and running it back was kind of disgusting - slime oozing out coming and going.

But damn, it felt a LOT more solid than any other Moisin action I’d handled before…

Wiped off the worst of the gunk and went through a few more cycles. Damn. Like my Remington 700. Almost as slick as my Lee Enfield, but with even less play. In and out a few times more. Very good… look down the bore (somebody else has to have been in there - the bore was mostly clean) and see nice sharp lands and grooves.

Picked a spot on the far wall and shouldered it for a look over the sights.

Then I handed it back to the clerk, thanked him for his time, and headed for home.

And mom said yes about ten minutes ago, so if it’s still there at nine on Friday morning, it’s mine. If it’s gone, I probably won’t buy another one. The one I handled tonight is the one.

Yeah, that’s why I collect these things. Millions of them were made. But some of them were made just for me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Reading

Frome "The Bold and Magnificent Dream", by Bruce and William B. Catton:

They deliberately meant, in other words, to speak for all humanity in that preamble. When they wrote it, there were large numbers of Americans who could claim little or no share in the rights being enunciated. But the door was being left ajar for them, and for voicless, faceless legions of their kind the world over, and for millions yet unborn. It was being left open consciously, because all-inclusiveness- a better life and a stake in society for everyone (author's italics), regardless of race or sex or creed or previous condition- was what the American dream at its highest had already come to mean.


Here lay the basis of a faith that could move mountains. The course of human events had reached one of its decisive turning points, and a great deal of human history for the next two centuries (and beyond) was going to be different because the men of 1776 had first enunciated the dream, in phrases that still contain fire- libery, equality, pursuit of happiness, unalienable human rights- and had then proceeded to show that it just might work. Whoever chose that tune for Lord Cornwallis' military bands at Yorktown had known what he was about.

The tune mentioned above was, of course, "The World Turned Upside Down", and was played as the Redcoats grounded their arms and colors between the ranks of American Continentals and French Regulars after the victory at Yorktown.

The new nation that went forward from that day has never been perfect, and has never claimed to be. But the hopes, dreams, and intentions of the founders have stood the tests of the last couple of centuries better than any other representative governement, anywhere, by any measure. I guess that in an age of instant gratification and almost universal historical illiteracy, that's just not good enough.

But when did half of America decide that we are the enemy?

Where will we find the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Lincolns, and Reagans we so desperately need today?

I worry for my family and my nation. This is not a fear of the senseless violence sure to come as a result of our inability to correctly address today's Islamofascists, or whatever tomorrow's superpower conflicts turn out to be. No foreign power will deprive us our liberty. If that day ever comes it will be our own sloth and shortsightedness manipulated by C-team politicians, intelligentsia, and media that destroy this grand experiment.

Today the magninicent dream continues. For how long, though... for how long?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Vote Thing

It could be worse.

My family could have been Iraqi or Afghani instead of Americans, safe in Utah. For now.

Or a U.S. service member. Sorry, guys; the Republicans didn't get beat, they gave it away.

The Long War continues.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Word From Devil's Island

Over there in my "About Me" I told you I was a land surveyor.

I began my current gig as project/site surveyor for a high-value golf course resort subdivision project located in the mountains east of Park City, Utah almost two years ago. To give you an idea of the scale here, consider that the developer has pledged $200,000,000 for county infrastructure improvements above and beyond the golf course(s) and housing. That's all roads, water tanks and mains, wastewater plants, power transmission and distribution, and storm water systems.

My daily commute to the site is eighty miles one way, in the company truck, and I get to do Parley's Canyon ten times a week in all weathers. Base elevation at the club house is right around 6900 feet and some of the lots are above 7400. I can look directly west at the ski runs in Park City.

There's been some stress. And I'm a little old for the production staking role - you can only get so good at knocking hubs and then you are just beating yourself up. With the coming of winter it's usually just my second man and myself on the site; during the summer we may run as many as three or four crews. The most important professional decision I've made in the last year has been to admit that I probably can't run my second men or the other crews into the ground any more - but I can train them to be as accurate and fast as I ever was. Even better than I ever was.

That's kept me going so far. My family life has suffered. My kids need more of my time than they've been getting, and my wife, well, just know that she only asks for my I.D. sometimes when I show up at the door covered with mud around eight or nine on a rainy night...

Just this past summer my crew, along with others, oversaw construction of several miles of roads, thousands of linear feet of curb, sewer, water, and storm drain, laid out a score of million-dollar houses and staked literally hundreds of building lots. I've mapped miles of terrain for new plats and worked with the golf course architect to tweak the existing course so "Tiger likes the look". Yeah, he's got a lot up here, too.

Meanwhile, here at the house I've got ten square feet of sink surround in my bathroom that's needed tile since spring. My neighbor (another surveyor, by the way) and I share a fence line that needs about four new posts set before the ground freezes. That's been the case since spring's windstorms and neither of us has had time to make it happen. Did I mention the drywall finishing around the new kitchen light? Nope. And there's still more.

I have power tools in my garage that are still in last Christmas' boxes.

Today's dance card had sewer staking in one phase, mapping in another, and I had promised to stake the temporary parking lot and the second swimming pool/jacuzzi in the main common area. One thing led to another (four things, actually - just a normal day) and I ended up running almost two hours behind in getting to the pool.

We parked on the top of an embankment overlooking the area where our structures were supposed to go. The normal activity level in this part of the site makes the construction of the pyramids look like a kid's refrigerator box fort on a rainy afternoon. It's busy with the dirt guys working right against the buildings where the carpenters, plumbers, ironworkers, electricians, and fire suppression troops are busy fighting for turf.

I shouted down to the foreman that we were on the way down, and would he please see about moving the roofers' manlift and that damned huge crane and that bunk of copper sheathing that wasn't there this morning, and we'd get his stakes in the ground.

A minute to assemble the staff that carries my GPS rover, one last look at the paper plan with my second man and some quick directions to him on what stakes and paint to pack down the hill, and off I went in my baggy khakis bouncing on the blue suspenders under the grubby orange vest and scarred hardhat, over the edge, with the trademark "LET'S GOOoooooo!".... and almost ran down a dozen suits and a couple of skirts (heels on a construction site! They never learn.), all wearing their spotless shiny hardhats and pristine orange vests.

One of the banes of a high-value site is the certainty that mid-level client reps will show up to Contribute. They have Blackberries but really want a company car or gold membership in the going club, and to get that they have to Contribute. One or two at a time they are usually manageable. When you get a whole herd they invariably come up with at the very least (best case) a Keen Insight like directing a change to trim color on an existing building. That only screws up a few days' production for the finish carpenters. The other end of the rainbow comes when they look out at the featureless expanse where the new ten thousand foot activity building is going to be and Chet the second assistant VP for countertops, who is visiting from the LA office suggests (brightly! - he's Contributing!) it be moved/rotated/lifted/lowered. Then you have to explain, with tact and diplomacy, that doing that would mean that all the utilities under the featureless expanse would have to be moved and shifting the building would ultimately mean that the club dressing rooms would end up halfway into the eighth fairway.

But I left you halfway through the herd of suits.

I didn't recognize any of them. I kept moving - my second guy knows that his place is on my heels and sure enough he came sailing down right behind me.

I heard one of the ladies ask "Who is that???" One of the Dockers boys said "I've never met him, but that must be "(Tmj) with (my company)"".

Heh. Fame. Minor, but still kind of cool. Cool enough to get me back in the saddle come Monday.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 06, 2006


When you go to the polls tomorrow remember that you are executing a power denied to the vast majority of your fellow humans.

You are not voicing an opinion when you vote. You are determining the course, and perhaps the fate, of our nation.

Choose carefully.

We are long past the false "end of history" and the next chapter is going to be pretty dark no matter which course we choose.

Surrender is not an option. But it is a possibility, none the less.