Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas - Finally

I have been remiss in keeping up the posting but offer no apologies.

I had a great time on the 12th trying to knock down bowling pins in a match set up by Kevin. I haven't shot in a little while due to many reasons. So it was only natural that I go to the shoot with a couple of guns that I normally don't shoot in competition. I did poorly but had a great time. My Frankenstein Commander (Colt slide, Essex frame, and various other parts) performed nicely. I think that it is finally broken in from lapping the slide onto the new frame along with the guncoat refinishing. No FTF or FTE. The Walther P22 worked just fine. Now I need time to get over to the bowling alley and get more pins. We were going through some pins with all the people that were there. It should be mentioned again that the tables looked like really chewed up by the end of the matches. Termites have nothing on us!

I was back in wintry MI the 17th through the 20th to get mom to sign the papers needed to establish a trust. I lucked out as I was there between storms. It has been quite a run this last 6 months. The abbreviated run down looks like this: Dad getting too weak to care for mom in July (she had a stroke a couple of years ago), doctors visits for dad, outside help brought into their house, meetings with financial advisor for VA benefits, dad in the hospital, outside help goes 24/7, hospice, dad's passing in September, taking care of dad's affairs, POA with attorney for mom, arranging and moving mom into assisted living, financial advisor and trust attorney, setting up trust so mom can get dad's VA survivor benefits for care, move house into trust so that Medicaid can't do anything about it in five years, get the house up for sale from within trust and set up estate sale. I think I have been back to MI about 6 times so far.

I fly occasionally for work also so it has been busier than I like. Heck, I am not all that fond of flying anyways what with the airlines stuffing more seats onboard. Coach should really be renamed "sardine class". The last flight was out of Phoenix as I could get a direct from there to Detroit. The drive to the Phoenix airport only takes about an hour and a half from my house so it is still better than having connecting flights. I was dreading the longer flight as I am usually squashed in. Keep in mind that I am 6'7". I went on US Airways and lo and behold they had not shrunk the plane as far as others. My knees were at least a quarter inch off the seat in front of me.

I also got to go through my first of the new scanners. I decided that I should probably go through the scanner as I was unsure that I could refrain from making kissy noises while being patted down or comment on what nice hands he has. I was waiting for the results and asked the agent, "If I give you my email, will you send me a copy of the scan?" He did not actually answer but I did receive what I call THE LOOK. I then asked him, "Have you heard this request before?" I got a one word answer this time, "Yes". He was not happy that I was even talking to him. We believe that TSA agents' sense of humor is surgically removed as a hiring requirement.

Christmas was nice. Daughter #1 is home on break from NAU so the immediate family was together. We all went to Christmas Eve service at the Thornydale Family Church. Daughter #1 likes this church. Christmas Eve has traditionally been our gift opening time after church. Christmas Day is more for play and loafing. The Sunday after was back to my usual busy self - fixed the dryer, put up a shelf, went to Caveman Warehouse to get my 2011 tags, made ham & bean soup, and went to Sunday services with daughter #1. She asked if I would go with her and I try to say yes unless there is something going on like a shoot.

Wow, I was present in church twice in three days. I could see the increased interest is the pastor and others. It is kind of like fresh meat hanging up to attract the carnivores. JK. We were sitting and waiting for service to start. I commented to my daughter that if you changed a few words that you could take Revelation 13 and turn it into the start of a SciFi movie. This time I got THE LOOK from my daughter along with the obligatory exclamation, "Dad!" Which normally means that I am being difficult and should should be quiet. Like that is going to work. So I read part of it to her.

The Beast out of the Sea
1 The dragon[a] stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.

OK, does it have 4 heads with one horn each and 3 heads two horns each or........
Who had the gumption to get up there and tattoo the blasphemous names on the heads?
Shouldn't the dragon be coming out of the sea and the beast on the shore? I never heard of a sea leopard but have heard of a sea dragon.

I don't understand why I get the reactions I do when I am just asking obvious questions!

And on that note - Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reid, Senate Democrats Threaten to Block Obama Deal on Tax Cuts

Pelosi and Reid annoy me. I will just address one issue here from the article, the Estate Tax. Let's call it what is really is, which is the death tax. This falls somewhere into triple or quadruple taxation.

"Pelosi called the estate tax provision "a bridge too far," and Reid also singled it out for criticism." So they are arguing whether is should be 35% of anything over $5 million or 45% of anything over $3.5 million. It should be nothing, period. There is something inherently evil about this tax. Guess they need the money to pay for their endless job benefits. Oops, I guess that makes two issues.

I believe that any politician who supports any measure of death tax should become acquainted with tar and feathers. Both the republicans and democrats are bunch of leaches that still don't comprehend that it is not their money that they demand and then freely squander.

I always laugh at the quote from Grandma Florence Norris in Mars Attack, "They blew up congress. Ha ha ha ha!" She seemed to exhibit the same disdain that most hold for our so called representatives.

Friday, December 03, 2010

My Elk Hunt Sucked

I don't know how else to state it. This hunt ranks down there as one of the worst trips ever. I hired a guide for this hunt which is something I have never done before. There were several reasons involved in this decision. I don't have a hunting partner(s) at this time and my wife actually worries about me when I am in the backcountry alone. I have yet to be able to reassure her with statements like, "I won't die for lack of firepower." or "What the heck is a partner going to do anyways? He can't really can't carry me. I guess he could call and tell you I was dead" or "At least I will die doing what I like to do." She just seems to get more agitated and displays nervous ticks.

I am unsure how many more times I will go elk hunting as the fun really does stop when the animal drops. There used to be a group of us that would all put in for elk. The deal was that everyone went whether they were drawn or not. Everyone pitched in when someone got one and made short work of it. We would split up the elk meat amongst the group. People eventually scattered to the four winds and the group was no more. Elk are a lot to handle by yourself so I thought that it might be nice to get an "expert" to help with finding a nice rack and help tote. I should have stuck to looking at "racks" in magazines instead of hiring a guide.

The online site has reviews for previous clients. I know now that these must have been carefully selected for publication. Either that or they are complete fabrications. There was a questionnaire to be filled out prior to the hunt. It was missing some very important questions such as:

  • Are you able to see well enough by flashlight to march through the woods at 4 AM for miles?
  • Are you able to leap tall boulders in a single bound?
  • If you see game, are you able to run faster than it does? (Keep in mind that an elk will walk at about 5 MPH).
  • Are you able to see game while rapidly walking before they see you?
  • Are you ready to march all day on six hours sleep for days on end?
  • Do you fit in a Suzuki Samurai?

The night before opening day we were going to go glass. He told me to jump in his Suzuki Samurai - right. Keep in mind that I am 6'7" tall and there is not going to be any jumping in. I found that I could get in if the seat was all the way back, reclined a bit, put my left foot in first, held onto the grab bar and door, leaned in, sat down, put my feet just so to get the right leg in, and leaned off to one side to shut the door. I could only describe it as uncomfortable at best until we actually did some rock crawling then it was miserable. These vehicles can be worked over to become quite capable off road machines however I do believe that they were designed by a Japanese gentleman was who considered to be exceptionally short for his race.

We drove about two miles from camp and were glassing a hillside across the canyon above a tank. There were a few other vehicles parked in the vicinity doing the same. I let him know that there was a bull on the hillside. There were actually quite a few elk on the hillside. I figured that it might be a good idea to get on the other side of the ridge where we saw the elk on opening morning. I also figured that a few of the other hunters were going to be parking in the same place and heading that way. They could move them to us.

Such was not the case. We left camp opening morning at 4:30 AM so that we could drive 45 minutes and get to another spot before daybreak. The area actually looked pretty good. Lots of older beds and sign. I only found a pile or two that was fresh within 24 hours. We marched around in a big loop with minimal time spent glassing. Heck, he would go a couple hundred yards without pause prior to taking a quick glance around. Glassing was reserved for special occasions. He said that he could always spot the elk before they saw him even while walking. We saw nothing.

That afternoon we went back to where we had seen elk before and got around to the next ridge over. We saw a nice 6x5 a little over 300 yards out. I was tempted to try to take him but it would require a stalk to get in at less than 200 yards. Keep in mind that this is muzzle loader hunt. The ft lbs of most of these weapons is getting very marginal when past the 150 yard mark. He asked how far I could shoot that thing and was informed that I did not even know the drop at 300 yards as it is not a clean kill distance for this weapon. I looked up the muzzle loader data again for my load. I sighted in for 150 yards which is at 973 ft lbs. Most consider 1,000 ft lbs to be the lower end for elk hunting. At 200 yards the drop from this setup is 13" (762 ft lbs). 300 yards gives 42" of drop and 445 ft lbs.

It was almost dark and I felt that a stalk would be difficult at best trying to get down the rocky ridge line without getting spotted. I was informed that it wasn't that nice of a bull anyways and that he could put me on a better animal. I should have tried the stalk as it was the last decent thing we saw. Heck we did not even get on a spike after that.

The following morning found us on the next ridge over, marching along as usual. We saw some elk crossing a saddle that joined our ridge above us. He took off up the hill like a jackrabbit, jumping from rock to rock, and waving for me to follow. I am not a talus runner. There were three elk, we think, of unknown sex. No identification was possible nor was there any opportunity.

The next morning found us driving to the other side of the unit. We saw a really nice bull about 5AM in the headlights. I guess that was the better bull he could show me. Personally, I would have gone back to the area where we saw elk before but I am not as experienced and have these novice thoughts. We saw nothing that day.

The following days were no better. I have not hunted like this before. Hike an hour in the morning, in the dark, to get to the "good" spot. Spend maybe 5 minutes there after it is daylight. March around hoping that the animals don't see you first. If you do see something, go like heck to try to get in front of it. I was not able to keep up being a flat lander now at 7,000 feet in elevation, I found it difficult to catch my breath. I was then informed that if I wanted to see anything that I had to keep up. I was working hard just to try to keep this a**hole in sight.

He had one of his partners with him one day. They would walk ahead, softly talking & laughing, and with waving their hands with great animation the whole time. The guide had a pair of natural elk skin choppers on. You know how new choppers are yellow and shiny bright. Once in a while they would hold up for you. It sure was nice that they were getting paid to visit with each other. I was wondering if anyone would discover the bodies. We never did see anything that day either. Probably had something to do with marching, paying no attention, and waving those bright gloves around while talking.

I informed him that I had never hunted this way before. He did not like that comment and wanted to know what I really knew about elk. I actually do know a bit about them but thought that this ought to be fun. I responded that they were a lot like deer. Well, I got the 15 minute lecture about how they were not at all like deer which lead into his description of what they were like. He proceeded to give a prefect description of mule deer habits without even realizing it. There is one strong difference. Elk travel further than mule deer when you bump them which is mainly because they can travel those distances easily.

Something dawned on me after a while. They do lion hunts and he is permanently in lion hunting mode where you are always chasing the dogs. I was also starting to believe that he was using my hunt to scout for other purposes.

His idea of accommodating this old man was to wait up every so often and then take off as soon as you caught up. I would continue to stand there waiting for my heart rate to stabilize. He would turn and see me still standing there and stop with a disgusted look on his face. I let him know on the fourth day that I was no longer going to try to pretend that I could keep up with him. I was struggling to maintain a reasonable heartbeat and that this would kill me if I attempted to keep it up. I was very tired from the previous days which made it even more difficult. I told him he could slowly take me back to the camp and that he was relieved of his obligation. This did not go over well as he was probably thinking that this was not good for his reputation. There are no refunds nor was I asking for one. I just figured that I could ditch him and go hunt by myself. He did not want to let go. The last couple of days were more enjoyable as the long marches were over. We even stooped so low, in his opinion, to watch a tank in the evening but no elk was seen. He claims that you don't see elk sitting that you have to be moving. What a crock.

This was the least amount of elk I have seen when fortunate enough to get drawn. I have been drawn four other times. I shot a 5x4 and two times have passed on spikes. Only one other year did I not have an opportunity. I should know better by now not to pass on spikes or anything else. It does not seem to matter whether I am deer or elk hunting, if I pass on any animal that it will be the last shootable game seen.

Camp wasn't even fun. The very early mornings combined with not getting back to camp until well after dark only left time for dinner and bed. You might be able to hustle up dinner and be able to get 6 hours sleep.

Things I learned this hunt:

  • Don't ever, ever, ever bother with a guide unless someone you know has used him. The rest falls under truth in advertising - not!
  • Try the stalk when game is seen. It is better to get busted trying than to not try. I am still kicking myself for not trying. 6x5 antlers would look good next to the 5x4.
  • I hate Suzuki Samurais.
  • I did see some country I haven't been in before. I know where I want to be the first couple days of the hunting season if I can get drawn for 6A again.
  • Bifocal glasses are a poor choice when trying to hike in the dark with a flashlight. You pretty much have to keep your head down to be able to see over the lower lens. Get another pair of glasses without the bifocal. I used to have a regular pair but neglected to do so with the last pair. It's not like your going to be reading much. You can take them off if you can't see the map well enough.
  • I really like my Big Buddy heater with a 20 pound bottle as it lasted 5 days.
  • Cut morons like this loose earlier. You can't get your money back anyways, so why make yourself miserable because you paid for it.
  • Just because your paying someone doesn't mean that they actually know more than you do.
  • Repeat this to yourself as necessary.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Nightmare in DC Act

Contact your congress critter and let them know what you think of yet another attempt at back door amnesty. Senator Session has put up a good synopsis of the bill.

The full text of Senator Sessions’ release:



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has placed S.3827, the DREAM Act, on the Legislative Calendar and has indicated he will seek a vote during the lame duck session of Congress.

In addition to immediately putting an estimated 2.1 million illegal aliens (including certain criminal aliens) on a path to citizenship, the DREAM Act will give them access to in-state tuition rates at public universities, federal student loans, and federal work-study programs.

Aliens granted amnesty by the DREAM Act will have the legal right to petition for entry of their family members, including their adult brothers and sisters and the parents who illegally brought or sent them to the United States, once they become naturalized U.S. citizens. In less than a decade, this reality could easily double or triple the more than 2.1 million green cards that will be immediately distributed as a result of the DREAM Act.

Ten Things You Need To Know About S.3827, The DREAM Act

1. The DREAM Act Is NOT Limited to Children, And It Will Be Funded On the Backs Of Hard Working, Law-Abiding Americans

Proponents of the DREAM Act frequently claim the bill offers relief only to illegal alien “kids.” Incredibly, previous versions of the DREAM Act had no age limit at all, so illegal aliens of any age who satisfied the Act’s requirements—not just children—could obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. In response to this criticism, S.3827 includes a requirement that aliens be under the age of 35 on the date of enactment to be eligible for LPR status. Even with this cap, many aliens would be at least 41 years old before obtaining full LPR status under the Act—hardly the “kids” the Act’s advocates keep talking about.

The DREAM Act requires that DHS/USCIS process all DREAM Act applications (applications that would require complex, multi-step adjudication) without being able to increase fees to handle processing. This mandate would require either additional Congressional appropriations, or for USCIS, a primarily fee-funded agency, to raise fees on other types of immigration benefit applications. This would unfairly spread the cost of administering the DREAM Act legalization program among applicants and petitioners who have abided by U.S. laws and force taxpayers to pay for amnesty. Taxpayers would also be on the hook for all Federal benefits the DREAM Act seeks to offer illegal aliens, including student loans and grants.

2. The DREAM Act PROVIDES SAFE HARBOR FOR ANY ALIEN, Including Criminals, From Being Removed or Deported If They Simply Submit An Application

Although DREAM Act proponents claim it will benefit only those who meet certain age, presence, and educational requirements, amazingly the Act protects ANY alien who simply submits an application for status no matter how frivolous. The bill forbids the Secretary of Homeland Security from removing “any alien who has a pending application for conditional status” under the DREAM Act—regardless of age or criminal record—providing a safe harbor for all illegal aliens. This loophole will open the floodgates for applications that could stay pending for many years or be litigated as a delay tactic to prevent the illegal aliens’ removal from the United States. The provision will further erode any chances of ending the rampant illegality and fraud in the existing system.

3. Certain Criminal Aliens Will Be Eligible For Amnesty Under The DREAM Act

Certain categories of criminal aliens will be eligible for the DREAM Act amnesty, including alien gang members and aliens with misdemeanor convictions, even DUIs. The DREAM Act allows illegal aliens guilty of the following offenses to be eligible for amnesty: alien absconders (aliens who failed to attend their removal proceedings), aliens who have engaged in voter fraud or unlawfully voted, aliens who have falsely claimed U.S. citizenship, aliens who have abused their student visas, and aliens who have committed marriage fraud. Additionally, illegal aliens who pose a public health risk, aliens who have been permanently barred from obtaining U.S. citizenship, and aliens who are likely to become a public charge are also eligible.

4. Estimates Suggest That At Least 2.1 Million Illegal Aliens Will Be Eligible For the DREAM Act Amnesty. In Reality, We Have No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Will Apply

Section 4(d) of the DREAM Act waives all numerical limitations on green cards, and prohibits any numerical limitation on the number of aliens eligible for amnesty under its provisions. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that the DREAM Act will make approximately 2.1 million illegal aliens eligible for amnesty. It is highly likely that the number of illegal aliens receiving amnesty under the DREAM Act will be much higher than the estimated 2.1 million due to fraud and our inherent inability to accurately estimate the illegal alien population. Clearly, the message sent by the DREAM Act will be that if any young person can enter the country illegally, within 5 years, they will be placed on a path to citizenship.

5. Illegal Aliens Will Get In-State Tuition Benefits

The DREAM Act will allow illegal aliens to qualify for in-state tuition, even when it is not being offered to U.S. citizens and legally present aliens living just across state lines. Section 3 of the DREAM Act repeals Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1623) which prohibits giving education benefits to an unlawfully present individual unless that same benefit is offered to all U.S. citizens.

6. The DREAM Act Does Not Require That An Illegal Alien Finish Any Type of Degree (Vocational, Two-Year, or Bachelor’s Degree) As A Condition of Amnesty

DREAM Act supporters would have you believe that the bill is intended to benefit illegal immigrants who have graduated from high school and are on their way to earning college degrees. However, the bill is careful to ensure that illegal alien high school drop-outs will also be put on a pathway to citizenship – they simply have to get a GED and be admitted to “an institution of higher education,” defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Under the Higher Education Act, an “institution of higher education” includes institutions that provide 2-year programs (community colleges) and any “school that provides not less than a 1-year program of training to prepare students for gainful employment” (a vocational school). Within 8 years of the initial grant of status, the alien must prove only that they finished 2 years of a bachelor’s degree program, not that they completed any program or earned any degree.

If the alien is unable to complete 2 years of college but can demonstrate that their removal would result in hardship to themselves or their U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, child, or parent, the education requirement can be waived altogether.

7. The DREAM Act does not require that an illegal alien serve in the military as a condition for amnesty, and There is ALREADY A Legal Process In Place For Illegal Aliens to Obtain U.S. Citizenship Through Military Service

DREAM Act supporters would have you believe that illegal aliens who don’t go to college will earn their citizenship through service in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, the bill does not require aliens to join the U.S. Armed Forces (the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard); instead it requires enlistment in the “uniformed services.” This means that aliens need only go to work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Public Health Service for 2 years to get U.S. citizenship. If the alien is unable to complete 2 years in the “uniformed services,” and can demonstrate that their removal would result in hardship to themselves or their U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, child, or parent, the military service requirement can be waived altogether. Such claims will likely engender much litigation and place a huge burden on DHS.

Furthermore, under current law (10 USC § 504), the Secretary of Defense can authorize the enlistment of illegal aliens. Once enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, under 8 USC § 1440, these illegal aliens can become naturalized citizens through expedited processing, often obtaining U.S. citizenship in six months.

8. Despite Their Current Illegal Status, DREAM Act Aliens Will Be Given All The Rights That Legal Immigrants Receive—Including The Legal Right To Sponsor Their Parents and Extended Family Members For Immigration

Under current federal law, U.S. citizens have the right to immigrate their “immediate relatives” to the U.S. without regard to numerical caps. Similarly, lawful permanent residents can immigrate their spouses and children to the U.S. as long as they retain their status. This means illegal aliens who receive amnesty under the DREAM Act will have the right to immigrate their family members—including the parents who sent for or brought them to the U.S. illegally in the first place—in unlimited numbers as soon as they become U.S. citizens (6 to 8 years after enactment) and are 21 years of age.

Additionally, amnestied aliens who become U.S. citizens will be able to petition for their adult siblings living abroad to immigrate to the U.S., further incentivizing chain migration and potentially illegal entry into the United States (for those who don’t want to wait for the petition process overseas). When an adult brother or sister receives a green card, the family (spouse and children) of the adult sibling receive green cards as well.

9. Current Illegal Aliens Will Get Federal Student Loans, Federal Work Study Programs, and Other Forms of Federal Financial Aid

Section 10 of the DREAM Act allows illegal aliens amnestied under the bill’s provisions to qualify for federal student assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) in the form of federal student loans (Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loans), federal work-study programs, and other federal education services such as tutoring and counseling.

10. DHS Is Prohibited From Using the Information Provided By Illegal Aliens Whose DREAM Act Amnesty Applications Are Denied To Initiate Their Removal Proceedings or Investigate or Prosecute Fraud in the Application Process

When an illegal alien’s DREAM Act amnesty application is denied, the bill states that the alien will revert to their “previous immigration status,” which is likely illegal or deportable. The bill, however, prohibits using any of the information contained in the amnesty application (name, address, length of illegal presence that the alien admits to, etc) to initiate a removal proceeding or investigate or prosecute fraud in the application process. Thus, it will be extremely hard for DHS to remove aliens who they now know are illegally present in the U.S., because illegal aliens will be able to claim that the legal action is a product of the amnesty application, and DHS will have the nearly impossible task of proving a negative.