snowpocalypse, part… whatever

It’s snowing here in Upstate NY. Again. It started this morning, and should continue through sometime tomorrow afternoon. This storm is part of a massive weather front that covers multiple states (I count at least 14). Weather forecasters have actually given up trying to predict what the total is going to be. But I’m willing to make a prediction: a whole shitload. How’s that for precision meteorology?

American novelist Charles Dudley Warner once said: “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Well, I’m ready to do something about it. All I need now is instructions on how to build a weather machine.

click, click, boom… or not


I’m shooting in an indoor pistol league this year. Nothing fancy, just conventional pistol, shot with a .22 (some folks are using larger calibers, but at today’s ammo prices, I’ll stick with the .22). This is my second season competing. It’s been a bit of a challenge for me. I’ve spent most of my pistol-shooting life using a two-handed grip to shoot at silhouette targets. Bullseye shooting is done one-handed, so it’s taken some getting used to. But I am enjoying it, which is entirely the point.

When I shot last year, I didn’t exactly set the world on fire with my performance, but my scores improved every week, so I was happy. As long as I’m always improving, it’s all good.

I started this season a bit below where I ended last season. I hadn’t practiced in months, so that was to be expected. But things started to pick up after a couple weeks. Then I ran out of ammo.

You may have read that there’s an ammo shortage going on. Well folks, that ain’t no lie. I had a tough time finding .22 ammo, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish the season. In fact, based on my experience, .22 ammo is the hardest to find in my area. I’m not sure why. If people are hoarding for the large scale civil unrest or the zombie apocalypse, they ought to be buying larger caliber bullets.

I lucked out when I found a local gun store that had two bricks (500 round boxes) of Remington .22 in stock. I grabbed one, figuring it would be enough to get me through the season. I figured wrong. The quantity was more than sufficient, but quality-wise… not so much.

Now Remington is a well known brand. They’ve been around for a couple centuries. Hell, my dad had a Remington rifle and shotgun. Both were fine firearms. It never occurred to me that the company that manufactures such excellent guns would produce such low quality ammo.

Once I got to the range with my new ammo, my shooting went south almost immediately. Feed jams were frequent. On top of that, about 10% of the rounds were duds. Frustration set in. And my shooting suffered. A lot. My scores actually started going down from week to week.

Prior to buying the Remingtons, I had been shooting CCI ammo. I had been shooting CCI for years and had always had good results with it. So I decided that my only hope of salvaging the season would be to get more CCI. Either that, or I should just ditch the gun and throw my bullets at the target.

My search for the Holy Grail of ammunition was easier said than done. I hit up several Wal-Marts, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a half dozen gun stores. Most had no .22 ammo at all, and the few places that did had small boxes of obscure brands at ridiculous prices. It was looking like I’d find the actual Holy Grail before I would find any good ammo.

I was griping about my plight last week when one of the guys in my gun club mentioned a little gun store out in the boonies that might have some .22 ammo. The store is only open 2 days a week for 2 or 3 hours each day. He gave me an address and phone number.  I wasn’t too hopeful, but I decided to give it a shot.

On Saturday, I gave the guy a call and asked him if he had any .22 long rifle ammo. “I have a little.” I asked him what brands he had. There was no way I was driving all the way out there for more Remingtons. “Some Winchester and some CCI.” Bingo! I told him I’ d there in a little while.

This store is out in the middle of nowhere. It’s on a dirt road that’s off another dirt road. I’d have driven right by it if I hadn’t seen the wooden sign that read “guns ammo” on the ground, leaning against a tree. The building was small. There were already eight customers inside. I squeezed in and waited my turn. When I got to the counter, I saw that there were several bricks of CCI .22 stacked next to the register. I heard the voice of Charlie Sheen in my head. “Winning!”

The bullets cost me $35, $15 more than I paid for a brick of CCI last year, but $5 less than what I paid for those crappy Remingtons a few weeks ago.

Last night was league night. I shot my 60 rounds without a single malfunction. No duds, no feeds jams. It wasn’t a stellar night for me score-wise, but it was probably my best night of the season.

Lessons learned from this experience:

1. Use CCI ammo whenever possible.

2. Don’t use Remington ammo. Throwing rocks works better.

3. Travel to the boonies to buy your ammo. The hoarders are wiping out all the bigger stores.


tuesday the 10th. like friday the 13th, only worse

As I alluded to in an earlier post, last week was a real bummer for me. Tuesday was probably the worst of the days. Here’s how it went:

Up earlier than usual to bring the puppy to the vet. She broke her leg a couple weeks ago. I didn’t sleep well the night before, so it was going to be one of those days where I would be dragging my ass.

Shortly after I got to work, my supervisor walked into my office to assign me five new cases. The cases are new to me, but not new. In fact, all five are going to trial next month. Two had fallen through the cracks and were never assigned to an investigator. Translation: No work had been done on them. The other three were assigned to an investigator (now transferred to another section) who was less than motivated. The case folders were pretty much empty. Great, as if I didn’t have enough on my plate already, now I have to scramble to gather the evidence we’ll need before trial.

I took an hour of personal time so I could leave early to pick up the puppy. Had to pay the bill when we picked her up. $350. That’s on top of the $450 bill we had to pay two weeks earlier. Ouch.

After I got home from the vet, my older daughter told me that the brakes on the car she drives were making a strange noise. I took the car out for a test drive. When I hit the brakes I got a loud metal-on-metal sound. Great, brake pads are shot. And this on the heels of spending about $800 on new brakes and tires for my wife’s car the previous week. More ouch.

As I’m wondering what the hell else can go wrong, I heard a pounding at the door. Then a voice yelled, “Fire Department!” I went down to check it out. A local firefighter kindly told me that there was a gas leak in the sewer and that we would have to evacuate the neighborhood. Wonderful. We wound up spending a couple of hours down at my in-laws’ house waiting for word we could return.

By the time Friday the 13th got here, I barely noticed. So far this week hasn’t been great, but I haven’t had a day as bad as last Tuesday. Yet.

anything that can go wrong…

Flat Bastard!

So I was driving through the town of Cairo, NY, site of the annual Temperance and Tommy Guns Festival, when my right rear tire decided it would be a good time to go flat. Needless to say, I was not amused. I guess the crappy week I’m already having wasn’t crappy enough.

After I got the spare on, I looked over the flat to see what the problem was. There was a two inch vertical gash in the sidewall. I have no idea how that got there. I didn’t hit any potholes. Didn’t hit any curbs. But there it was. I have no idea what the hell happened. It’s as if the gods of automotive dysfunction just reached down and swatted me. Bastards!

The only good thing is that it was the company car, so I won’t have to spring for a new tire. I’ve already bought enough tires in my life.

i hate you, monday

It doesn’t matter that I took Thursday and Friday off, the weekend ended too damned soon! Okay, I spent Thursday trekking back and forth to Syracuse to see my mom in the hospital (she had a hip replacement last week), so that day wasn’t particularly relaxing. But still, I had Friday off too, so I should be well-rested. Right? So why did I wake up exhausted this morning? It’s not like I spent the weekend partying. Hell, I had one beer at a graduation party. That’s it. Even at my advanced age and poor level of physical conditioning, one beer ain’t enough to knock me on my ass. Yet there I was feeling sucker-punched, like I do when the clock goes off every Monday morning. But it’s not a sucker-punch. I always see it coming. Mondays are clearly marked on the calendar. They arrive at the same time every week. And I’m still not ready for ’em. Dammit.

The good news is that Monday will be over soon. But then it’ll be Tuesday, and I’m not too fond of these either.

neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night…

Here’s a touching story of a guy who got a postcard from his mom. More than three decades after she mailed it. The postcard was mailed to Scott McMurry’s Clairmont Lane address in Decatur, GA from Chicago, IL in 1958. It was recently delivered to a Clairemont Lane address in Daytona, FL. Thanks to some work by the card’s recipient, Elizabeth Fulcher, it eventually found it’s way to McMurry. Gotta love the postal service. I guess there’s hope my daughter will receive that birthday card I mailed her from Tyndall AFB, FL. In 2002. Perhaps it’ll arrive before her next birthday.

common sense, it’s not that common

In new York, we have this thing called the Move Over Law. It’s designed to prevent accidents. It almost caused one for me today.

On Parkways and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting or a hazard vehicle displaying flashing amber lighting, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.

(emphasis mine)

The gist of that last line is that if there’s a vehicle already occupying the lane to your left, you should not move over. Unfortunately, there are some drivers who don’t get that. These are people who drive like there’s no tomorrow. They speed. They tailgate. They change lanes frequently, and without signaling. They laugh in the face of danger. They fear nothing. Except getting a ticket. That scares the hell out of them. If you’re to the left of one of these clowns on the interstate when he sees the flashing lights, watch out, there’s a good chance you’re gonna get whacked.

I have no doubt this law may prevent some traffic injuries and deaths among police officers and other emergency workers. But I suspect that when all is said and done, it may actually increase the number of personal injury highway accidents.  Time will tell, I guess. Then again, maybe it won’t. Lawmakers like to pass laws, but they’re not too highly motivated to examine the efficacy of said laws. It’s easier to just declare victory and move on to the next law.

A quick note to the guy in the tractor-trailer who almost killed me today: Thanks, man, I really needed that adrenaline surge on my drive home today. Fortunately for you, I decided to let the whole thing go (after a brief outburst of extreme profanity).  As lucky as I was to survive our near-collision, you were lucky too. The next guy you pull that shit on might not be a reasonable guy like me. He might be an angry, obsessive guy who won’t let it go. The kind of guy who will follow you until you stop somewhere for food or fuel. He might be the kind of guy who wants to find out whether that vehicle – whose size makes you nearly invulnerable on the highway – will fit up your ass. Based on my knowledge of physics and biology, I’m pretty sure it won’t. But you won’t enjoy the process of finding that out for certain. Just something to consider. Douchebag.

what part of “no left turn” do you not understand?

I was sitting in my office on Friday. I wasn’t supposed to be sitting there, I was supposed to be up north, interviewing two witnesses for a trial on Monday. But the trial was canceled at the last minute, so there I was. At about 3:20, my phone rang. It was my daughter. Or rather, it was her phone. An unfamiliar voice greeted me.

“Is this John?”


“I’m calling for you daughter. She’s been involved in a little fender-bender.”

I asked her for the location of the accident. She told me, and I was out of the office like a shot. Fortunately, it was only a couple miles away.

She was okay, just a little shaken up. She complained of some head and neck pain, but thankfully nothing major (so far, anyway). The car had been knocked a lane and a half. According to a witness at the scene, the driver of the other vehicle attempted to make a left turn out of a drug store parking lot and hit my daughter, who was in the left westbound lane. Apparently the guy who was in the right westbound lane waved the other driver on, probably thinking the he was turning right, which is what you’re supposed to do from that exit, as it’s clearly marked “NO LEFT TURN.” If you want to go left out of the parking lot, you’re supposed to use another exit, on the other side of the lot. That one’s (not coincidentally) near a traffic light. I guess that jackwagon was in too much of a hurry to make the arduous 200 yard trek to the proper exit. Asshole.

So, needless to say, I’m not a happy camper. I’ll be meeting with an appraiser from the insurance company this week. I’m hoping they elect to pay for repairing the car. If they decide to total it, the check for the value of the car will pay off the loan, but then we’re out a car.  And I’m in no mood to go car shopping.