June 18, 2018

Home Stretch

A few months ago, I reached out to a few friends to see if they'd be interested in a little adventure.

Since the divorce back in June 2016, I have moved to Colorado, bought a new (used) vehicle, and have been focusing on being a bit frugal and getting my finances back in order.  For the most part, I've done well with that, and have a cushion again (albeit not as BIG of a cushion as I'd like, but baby steps, right?).  Also, during the period from Sept 2012 to June 2016, I'd not really done anything that could be considered a vacation save for our honeymoon in December 2012.

Now don't get me wrong: I recreate quite a bit, living as I do in the beautiful outdoor playground that is Colorado.  I'm able to spend three day weekends in the mountains, hiking or fishing.  I can take the guns to the range anytime I wish, I went to Blogorado in '16 and '17 and will do so again this year unless something goes terribly awry.  I went back home to Indiana in '17 for a week for Christmas.

So back in January, I reached out to a couple pals.  Eric is an old friend from back when I was a paramedic in Atlanta, GA.  Brian and I used to work on the helicopter when I was a flight paramedic.  And Kelly is my friend and hunting partner, got me into the Blogorado Tribe, and a very important part of my life.

"Guys, would y'all be interested in a 4 day Salmon and Halibut fishing trip to Alaska in the end of June?"

The responses were all in the affirmative, ranging from "Sure, sounds like fun" to "Oh, HELL YES!"

A couple months of planning, research, and coordinating has the four of us flying to Anchorage on Saturday, a drive to Soldotna on Sunday, and three guided days of fishing and one day of self-guided fishing this coming week.  We'll be going for halibut on the Cook Inlet on Monday, then King Salmon on the Kenai River Tuesday and Thursday.  Wednesday we'll either do some sightseeing or borrow the guide service gear and go after Sockeye salmon on our own. 

It's surprisingly affordable, too: The guide service we're using has a four day package including lodging for $860/person, plus discounts on rental cars, fish processing, etc.  Adding in airfare, licenses, and the assorted and sundry costs, and we're coming in right about $1500/person. 

My flight is this Saturday, 23 June, at 0700 from DEN.  Fly to Seattle, a short layover, and then to Anchorage.  Return to DEN is the 30th. 

I just need to get through the next 5 days, then I'm turning on the "Out Of Office" replies on my email, turning off the mail sync to my phone, and checking out for a week. 

I can't wait for Friday 5:00 pm to get here....

June 7, 2018

SCOTUS Cake Case

Because I hate using all my decent material at an away game, here's a reply I posted on the Book of Faces:



In the SCOTUS case recently decided, the issue is NOT about discrimination against same sex couples. And, as you well know, I'm as big an advocate for same sex marriage as there is... I've supported it going back at LEAST 10 years.

The issue is really about two things: Can the government compel speech, and does the government treat all citizens fairly and with regard for their religious beliefs.

This case is one where the facts often get lost in the rhetoric and emotion, and that's a pity, because facts are really important here.

Fact: The baker did not refuse to sell the couple a cake. He refused to use his artistic ability to write "Congrats, Dave and Joe" on the cake. This is important to note, because we have long held that the written word is protected by freedom of speech.

Thus, the question (that SCOTUS left unanswered) is this: Can the government compel a citizen to write or speak or express words/sentiments the citizen does not believe? Can the government force you to say something you don't want to say? Can they force you to write something you don't want to write? Can they force you to create art you don't want to create?

Can a Jewish baker be compelled to make a cake with "Happy Birthday, Adolf Hitler!"? Can a gay baker be forced to write "Kill the Gays!" on a cake?

I would hope that all freedom loving people would answer that with a resounding "Hell NO!"

The second part, about "does the government treat all citizens fairly and with regard for their religious beliefs" is where the SCOTUS decision focused.

In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy (who also wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges that recognized the legitimacy of same sex marriage) wrote "some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.
No commissioners objected to the comments. Nor were they mentioned in the later state-court ruling or disavowed in the briefs filed here. The comments thus cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case."

In other words, the Colorado Commission were openly hostile to the baker's religious beliefs, while at the same time not applying the same standard to other cases brought before it -- the Commission sided with other businesses who refused based on their morals. See, for example, this story:

"...a gentleman named Bill Jack went to another Colorado bakery to demand a cake that was decorated with text opposing same-sex marriage. When the bakery refused, he also filed a complaint. His was rejected, with the CRCC concluding that a bakery couldn't be forced to write messages that it found offensive or objectionable."

http://reason.com/blog/2018/06/04/supreme-court-rules-for-baker-in-gay-wed

So, this isn't about discrimination, but more about the government treating everyone fairly and the compulsion of speech. SCOTUS didn't address the compulsion of speech in this ruling. Only the first part.

Finally, that the baker didn't want to make a custom cake with a message that he does not agree with brings no direct and measurable harm to the two men who wanted the cake (the two men live in the Downing and 17th street area, the cake shop is in Lakewood, some 12 miles away...) In stark contrast, if a surgeon refuses to operate on a patient, it is easy to show direct and proximate harm caused by the surgeon's lack of action.

Personally, I'd like the baker and anyone else who wishes to run their business the same way to be up front and open about it. Put a big sign on the front door: "We don't make same sex wedding cakes." That makes it easier for me to know where to NOT spend my money. That old "May those who love us love us, and those that don't love us, may God turn their ankles so we know them by their limp" thing, ya know?

In the end, however, the CO Civil Rights Commission was openly hostile to the baker because of his religious beliefs. And government can't do that in this country. Nor should they.

June 1, 2018

Blog Roll Addition

Added Musings Over a Barrel to the blog roll.

Guns, beer, 'Murica... What's not to like?

Y'all get busy with the clicking.

May 25, 2018

Well, If He Was Smart, He'd Have a Better Career


The Denver Police Fugitive Unit arrested a man who was identified as a robber in several convenience store crimes, thanks to the fact that he wore his GPS ankle monitor to the first robbery, police claim. 
Police say a pre-trial services officer saw a crime bulletin with photos of a suspect committing several robberies and recognized the suspected robber as one of the people she supervises. 
They later learned Lawrence Lowe, 22, was on pretrial release and was waiting the outcome of a second-degree attempted murder case in Arapahoe County. The U.S. Marshals also have a hold on him for a federal case of possessing a dangerous weapon.
Police pulled the GPS data for Lowe’s ankle monitor and claim it showed Lowe was inside the store at the time it was robbed on March 10.

May 21, 2018

Helping One Of Our Own

She might fuss at me for this, but I can live with it...

Tam over at View From The Porch managed to bungle up her collar bone over the weekend, and has one arm in a sling, waiting on the fracture to heal. 

This injury will be problematic for her: Hard to run a slide on a semi-auto pistol with one hand, can't do any rifle shooting, and shotgunning is right out.  That makes it difficult to make a living when one's income is based on shooting and writing about shooting firearms.

If you could, swing by her place and hit up the tip jar, throw a couple coins her way to help her through the next few weeks.



May 16, 2018

Florida Coward Set For Life

Remember that cowardly sheriff's deputy in Parkland, Florida, who failed to engage the shitbag that shot up the school?

He's going to collect over $100k/year in pension.

Peterson, who retired in the weeks after the March shooting, is due to collect $8,700 per month. That works out to slightly more than $104,000 a year. Peterson, who is 55 years old, will be able to receive that pension for the rest of his life, and Broward County taxpayers will cover 50 percent of his health insurance premiums.


Disgusting.

May 10, 2018

Fishwrap

My local paper has an Op-Ed piece on their website, which you can read here.

Short version: Ban "assault guns" and blah blah blah.

I replied:



Truly impressive. I've not seen so many factual, logical, and rhetorical errors in one piece as I have in this:


"Hear them say, for instance, that the “AR” in AR-15 is misrepresented as standing for “assault rifle” when in fact the “A” stands for “ArmaLite,” after the arms maker."

That the AR stands for Armalite Rifle is a verifiable fact. When one wishes to enact a ban on what a free citizen can do, perhaps being factually accurate is a good place to start?

"An assault rifle is what we decide it is."

Well, so much for basing decisions on facts.

"Klarevas writes that while the law was in place, the number of mass murders (six or more dead) dropped a “staggering” 37 percent."

And yet the FBI and Department of Justice determined that it had no statistically significant impact on total firearm deaths during the 1994 AWB:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/204431.pdf

Further, if you bother to read Klarevas' study, you'd know that Klarevas concedes in a footnote that of the 12 shootings in his dataset, only three actually involved assault weapons. But again, we're talking facts. It would appear those are not important here.

"The NRA opposes gun control? Why did it not allow guns into the auditorium in Dallas the other day when Donald Trump pandered to the (defenseless) crowd?"

That decision was made by the United States Secret Service, not the NRA. Carrying of firearms was permitted in all other areas at all other times. You'd know this if you had bothered to check some basic facts, or talk to anyone who has attended an NRA meeting.

"You may say people are certain to violate this law (buying their weapons outside Boulder), and that will apply to bad guys.

Yes, and the same could apply to speed limits, laws against rape, bribery and anything else."

Using your (poor) analogy: The town speed limit is 45 mph. Some reckless kids come tearing through at 90. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 35.

Brilliant.

"So let’s not have any laws?"

A first year law student can explain the difference between Malum in se and Malum prohibitum. Things like rape, bribery, etc are In Se laws, because the very nature of the act is abhorrent to the general nature of man. Your desire to ban the possession of a thing just because you don't like it is an example of Malum prohibitum. You want to control people, not allow them to live free. You want to make the mere possession of an object against the law. Didn't we try that with alcohol? Didn't we try that with marijuana? Haven't we learned our lesson?

Some of us have.

"The gun lobby shouldn’t write out gun laws. We should."

You're OK with us doing that to the press too, right? Letting we, the people, decide what is and what is not journalism?

You, sir, should be ashamed to have put your name to this.



I'm done with the Coloradoan.  Subscription canceled.  

April 24, 2018

Weekend Mini Family Reunion

A few months ago, my mother decided to come visit me here in Colorado, and booked her airfare.  I took Thursday, Friday, and yesterday off work, and we figured we'd just tool around FoCo, maybe take a drive in the mountains, and generally enjoy a few days together. 

Well, she talked to her brother, my uncle Kenny, and made mention of her trip.  Uncle Ken's oldest daughter, my cousin Melanie, lives here in town with her husband and their two children, and Kenny told Mom that he and Aunt Sara might just drive up to visit while Mom was here.

Then Kenny talked with his brother, my Uncle Ray, and made mention of it as well.  Ray decided that he and his wife, Aunt Marie, would drive out from Omaha as well.

So Mom got to town on Thursday.  We grabbed a quick bite of lunch, and set up base camp in my apartment.  After a few hours of napping, I made a light dinner, and we loafed at my place that night, turning in early.  Friday found Mom and I shopping in Old Town Fort Collins, where she grabbed a few souvenirs, we had lunch, and then met up with Kenny and Sara and Ray and Marie at their hotel.  To our surprise, Aunt Deb, who also lives in Omaha, came along with Ray and Marie, so Mom got to see two of her brothers, two sisters-in-law, and her youngest sister, as well as seeing me.  It was a little mini-family reunion, and rather pleasant.  We grabbed dinner at a local tavern, played some cards back at the hotel, and called it a night. 

Saturday found us at cousin Mel's place, where we consumed a fair bit of beer, a veggie tray and a bag of chips with salsa, and then Mel brought out a roasted pork loin with fennel and olives and assorted side dishes.  A feast for royalty, it was.

On Sunday, the weather that had been mostly cloudy and a bit of drizzle finally cleared out, so Ray, Marie, Kenny, Deb, Mom, and I piled into Kenny's SUV and took a drive up into the hills.  They haven't seen much of the Colorado mountains, so I took them up Poudre Canyon along Highway 14, then down Stove Prairie Road to Rist Canyon Road, back into Fort Collins.  It's a nice drive, plenty of scenery, and they were glad to have a "local" do the driving so they could rubber-neck and take in the sights. 

Sunday dinner was a couple of pizzas at Mel's, then back to the hotel for a few more rounds of cards and general chattering on, like they do.  After some hugs and farewells, most everyone retired for the night. 

Monday, Mom and I had a final breakfast with Ken and Sara, then they hit the road south to Albuquerque, while Ray and Marie and Deb had already cut out for Omaha by 0730.  I took Mom to DEN so she could make her 1600 flight, and now it's back to the grind. 

A very enjoyable weekend indeed.

April 16, 2018

April 4, 2018

Spicy Ranch Chicken and Rice

I've written many times here about cooking for one, and making meals at home to save money.  Threw this one together last week, and it turned out pretty solid.  Thought I'd share here.

* Three boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  You can use chicken thighs, if you wish.
* One chicken bouillon cube.
* A packet of dry Spicy Ranch Dressing mixture.
* 1 cup rice.
* 2 cups water.
* Shredded Colby Jack cheese.  Pepper Jack cheese would be a nice substitution, but I didn't have any.
* Can of Rotel.

Thaw the chicken if it's frozen, and put it in the crock pot with the bouillon cube, the Rotel, and water.  Cook on low heat until done, typically 4 hours or so.

Remove the chicken, shred it pretty well, then return to the crock.  Add the spicy ranch mix, and stir well.

Add the rice, and crank the crock pot heat to High.  Cover and let the rice cook, about 30-40 minutes.

Throw a goodly handful of the cheese, about a cup or so, and stir to mix, then turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

It's a nice, hearty meal, and didn't cost much at all.  The chicken was the most expensive part, and the rest of the items came from normal pantry stocks.

You could, if you wanted to, put the resulting mixture into a tortilla, roll into a burrito, and top with green chile sauce (like this, for example).  That might be too many carbs if you're mindful of such things, but it'd be a damn fine chicken burrito.

Bon Appetite.