Torn Between Two Calibers


I like to shoot. I shoot for accuracy. I shoot for relaxation. I shoot for fun. But sometimes I overthink this fun and end up in a dilemma. That’s what I’m having today.

Lately, I have been struggling between two calibers. The rifle I intend to purchase, in whatever caliber I decide on, are essentially. They are both manufactured by Savage Arms, they are both heavy barreled, and they are both the same barrel length. So, the firearm is not part of my dilemma.

My dilemma is deciding between the .22WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) and the .17HMR (Hornaday Magnum Rimfire). They’re both light. They both have almost no recoil. They’re both readily available. Hmm…let’s see.

The .22WMR was developed by Winchester in 1959 as a long-range varmint round; a boost from the reliable .22LR used by every farm kid since 1887. It is really an extended case using the same basic .22 bullet giving the round more powder, and therefore, more power. It shoots fast and flat and reaches our further with more energy on the target. It’s effective for small game between 100-150 yards. Mostly, it’s a fun round for plinking. “So is the .22LR,” you say, “and they’re cheaper.” Well, you’d be right about that and I can’t deny just wanting it for the purpose of honing my own proficiency at further and further distances. Again, I shoot for fun and this would be a fun round to shoot.

So, let’s look at the .17HMR. It’s been around since development by Hornaday in 2002. It is a necked-down .22HMR case to fit the .17″ diameter round. When speaking about “fast and flat,” this little guy gets that job done handily. My opinion is that it’s the new darling of the varmint circle and maybe that’s why I’m considering it. Because it’s small, it really zings out at longer range reaching speeds approaching Mach 2. That’s also it’s downfall; due to it’s smaller stature, it delivers less energy to it’s target at further distances, and it has a tendency to get pushed around by the wind a little more than the .22WMR. And if you want to gouge me on the cost of this fun, the .17HMR is even more expensive to shoot than the .22WMR. Nice thing about it, though, is its extended effective range over the .22WMR.

So the question is this: do I want the screamingly fast .17 to “whistle” downrange, or do I enjoy and moderate “crack” of the .22 round? Do I really need either when the .22LR is still the cheapest popular round on every store shelf in America? The .17 sounds exciting and new, but stocking a new round for a new gun just for the excitement? Sounds a bit like an extravagance, but then this whole debate is about want versus need, isn’t it?

So, the debate in my head rages on and it’ll probably end up in a coin flip, which, by the way, both of these rounds could effectively hit at 150 yards away! Happy shooting, whatever you choose.

Photo by Michael B., Flickr Creative Commons


The Role of Government

I was recently told that the service I was being provided was a “courtesy.” It was meant to demonstrate that I was being afforded someone’s time outside the normal process, but it was also meant to position themselves over me and my project, insinuating that government, and the job they do, is more important than the people it serves.


I’m not anti-government. In fact, I enjoy working as a private individual, along with my local government, to ensure the orderly and prosperous growth and maintenance of the community in which I live. However, I must protest this notion that the “government,” (who are people that enjoy paychecks funded by taxpaying members of a community, and elected officials that also work in that structure) work every day on projects mortals wouldn’t understand or comprehend. They are there by the combined work and effort of the people governmental structure is meant to serve.

We didn’t invent this structure to rule over ourselves and serve someone else’s interests. We invented, put into action, and staffed a structure (even the smallest local level) to serve our interests in matters larger or more complex than citizens could perform alone. Schools, infrastructure, public healthcare, and community economic development are some of the areas that benefits a community’s health and prosperity, and are much too large for a group of concerned citizens to manage daily.

So if you work in a governmental structure of any size, go to work every day remembering where you get your power from, where you get your direction from, and where you should get your inspiration from; it’s the citizenry of the community in which you live and work and play.

Your time and effort are NEVER a courtesy; they are an obligation.

Mild is…middle-ish

Mild is the equivalent of tepid. While some think of the mild as being relaxing, I think of it as boring or uninteresting. I’m not an advocate of the extreme, but I don’t like the middle of the road, either. Be exciting! Move to one side or the other.

Please don’t be mild around me.

If it’s temperature, then make me a little uncomfortable. Allow me to respond by seeking shade or grabbing a jacket.

Please don’t be mild around me.

If it’s opinion, then engage me in challenging dialog. Force me to think of a position and defend it or bring me into agreement with your own.

Please don’t be mild around me.

If it’s flavor, then allow me to change the recipe. Make me taste carefully and bring thoughtful spices and herbs to the dish or allow me room to critique and suggest.

Please don’t be mild around me.

And if it’s temperament, then give me someone exciting to know. Become a thoughtful lover of all things or a firebrand, ready to take on the world!

Please, don’t be mild around me.

via Daily Prompt: Mild


I’ve never learned to juggle beyond the simple mimicry of children playing, so it doesn’t occur to me to perform as a juggler or tell people to trust that I can. It doesn’t enter my brain that I should just be able to do it naturally, or that without training, I should take my show on the road and charge people money to see how many things I can successfully juggle. You see, there’s not only an art to the way you propel and catch objects, but there’s years of solid practice. Go ahead, try it.

Scheduling work, home, and family is a lot like juggling. Knowing what objects to keep aloft and what ones that require your immediate attention and personal interaction is paramount to success. but, just like real juggling, I’ve not had any professional guidance or training beyond mimicking my professional colleagues or my parent’s example while growing up. So, there’s no expectation that I know what I’m doing. Nor should I convince my clients, my friends, my spouse, or my children that I can schedule all of my responsibilities, needs, desires, and dreams, keeping all priorities safely aloft, touching only those that require attention at exactly the right moment, taking care that important ones don’t fall to the ground.

What kind of training do people seek or need to be proficient jugglers of life? Do we include this essential skill in school? Should we? What about university? Surely the things we learn there set us up for a different professional path than if we hadn’t gone. One only assumes this means the juggling will get progressively more difficult. To answer my own question: Yes. People in the world need to know how to prioritize for themselves and it shouldn’t be a realization when they finally see this for themselves. Taking charge of our lives and living independently should be a normal goal. All our growing lives we are set upon by the expectations of parents, supervisors, educators, ministers, and our growing relationship. All vie for time. All externally prioritize.

Teach children, teens, young adults, and those fresh in the world to take charge of their lives. Teach them from an early age and reinforce all along the way that they have the power and the responsibility to learn to do this for themselves. If you fall into that group of people who have power over other’s daily lives, forcing priorities on others, be clear in communicating your expectation so it’s easier for them to successfully juggle. When you see them bobbling their objects, provide training, guidance, and support. Not everybody knows how to juggle, you know. We all have to learn it, whether we perform it in front of other, or just perform for our families in the garden.

And when you drop something, for Pete’s sake, pick it up and start over. You’re learning and eventually you’ll put on a show for all to witness.

Liberals and conservatives and…what else?

In America today, all we debate is the schism between Liberals and Conservatives. Whether on the nightly news, the national or local newspapers, online, or at the coffee shop. All we speak about is how far left or how far right politicians, politics, leaders, and common opinions slide along the scale. It’s both frustrating and infuriating! Personally, I want to be able to talk about issues and make belief statements that don’t begin to define what camp I’m in; rather, I’d like it to lead to meaningful dialog between rational people.

And the labels are another thing. What I believe and why I believe it is not something that makes me liberal or conservative. In fact, here’s an example illustrating why I don’t like the labels. If I were conservative, I’d also be tentative. The very definition means “to hold back; to conserve.” That’s not the way I want to live my life, nor is it the way I want our society to evolve. We need to constantly liberate ourselves from old ideas and ideologies. We need to evolve, to gain ground, to search, and discover. These are not conservative actions or strategies.

I also want to be “liberal” without needing everything to be free for everyone in America paid for by everybody else in America. I want to live in a society where I can build personal wealth without it being taxed away, but I also want to able to give it away if I choose.

I want to live in a society that has respect for people and their views. I want to stop legislating for every eventuality. I want to own a gun and have a place to shoot it and for other people to stop being scared that I do. I want people to have rights about their own bodies; rights to live and to die and for those choices to be made by families and the people who love them. I want to be free to read, and to write, and to travel, and to absorb cultures.

Thomas Paine said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Why, when that was a founding principle around which our government was built, is my liberty under constant threat by my fellow Americans?

photo credit: “Argument” by Poppetcloset, Flickr Creative Commons. No changes made.

Figurine Credit: Gary Taxali

Good or Bad? A conversation.

Is Good the Absence of Bad?

So, the question was, “How was your day?” This is such a benign question, often asked as a place holder before, “What do you want for dinner?” It’s also a short greeting between friends used as a conversation starter rather than a genuine interest in what happened to that person on that particular day. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most people don’t really want to know how your day went. Often, it’s just too much information, especially at the end of the day. I think if someone was honestly interested in what kind of day you’re experiencing, they’d call during the day and ask, “How is your day going?”

Now, I know that kind of interaction would be an imposition in most cases, but at least it would show concern for their experience and give you a chance to help shape the final outcome of their day rather than just hearing about how it went.

Maybe that’s just my brain. My brain likes information and it likes to act on information. It’s not looking for an emotional connection to the information nor to the person giving the information, necessarily. It’s just looking for input to work on until it can gather enough to work on something else.

So, in answer to the question posed, I answered, “Fine, I guess.”

“What does that mean, exactly?” he asked.

“Well, nothing went wrong,” I said, thinking back to the events of the day, “I guess you could say that was good,” was my response. I looked at his expression and I could tell he didn’t get the nuanced variation in my use of the word good.

“Look,” I said, “there are two ways to look at good. Either something good actually happened, or nothing bad happened, which defaulted to good. So without getting into detail about either, the neutral ‘I guess so’ should suffice.”

Again, a puzzled expression appeared on his face.

“Imagine you’re walking home,” I continued, “and you find a ten dollar bill on the ground. Nobody is around so nobody can claim it. It’s just free money. You pick it up and put it into your pocket. Would you say you had a good day?” I asked.

“I suppose,” was the response. “I guess it depends.”

“Depends?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he said. If you really needed the money then it would be a great day. If it was just money I didn’t have and didn’t need because I was wealthy, it would just be a fortunate occurrence; not necessarily good. More like okay. It might be dictated by my mood at the time. For example, what if my dog died that day and I was walking back from burying my longest living companion. I wouldn’t call that a good day, even if I’d tripped over a bag full of ten dollar bills.”

“I’ll give you that,” I relented, “but let’s put all the depends on the back burner for this example and just tell me if you think free money is a good indicator you’re having a good day. A stroke of good luck that brightens your day, even.”

“Okay, then yes. That would be a good day.”

Emboldened, I continued, “now, what if you’re ten years old and you regularly got mugged for your lunch money on your way to school and today no one stopped and mugged you for your lunch money,” I continued, “would you say it was a good day because you didn’t get mugged?”

“Well, there’s a lot of day felt to turn sour, but it sounds like I got a pretty good start,” he said.

“So then, it is possible or permissible to define the absence of bad, as good?” was the question I posed.

There was a long pause.

“I guess it all depends on how hard you look for good. Are you finding good in all that you see, regardless of circumstances? And if you are, does that mean you’re a positive person naturally and trying to always see the good around you, or does it mean your life is fraught with sadness and you must look deeper into each circumstance if you are to find any joy at all?” he said.

I continued my point, “St. Augustine of Hippo wrote that it is only in comparison against evil that we enjoy and admire good even more when we experience it. He was speaking more to the philosophical notion of the absence of good, rather than evil itself. It’s called prevatio boni, in Latin. I merely pose the question in reverse order. If there is no bad for comparison’s sake, can that inherently be called good?”

We both sat in silence, each consider not only our own thoughts on the matter, but trying to digest the argument being presented, perhaps not in opposition, but in inquiry.

Finally breaking the silence, I finally asked, “Are you in a good mood?”

“Right now?” he said.

“Yeah, right now,” I replied.

“I’m not in a bad one,” he said.

“To me, that answer only denotes neutrality. I wonder, as humans, do we interpret neutrality as inherently weighted, however slightly, toward good rather than bad? Do we ever take that statement to mean, ‘I’m on the verge of being in a bad mood, so watch what you say from here on.“

“If it is the former, and you always see goodness, then are you more vulnerable to those circumstances in which evil creeps into your view of the world? Are you less able to demonstrate steadfastness in the face of adversity, whereas those around you, who appear more nonchalant by the realities of the world, continue to function, seemingly without effort or agony? Ultimately, which would you rather be and which would you rather be with?” I asked.


Who are You and Who do you Prefer to Be?


“Kurt Vonnegut is quoted as saying ‘people are who they pretend to be, so be careful9 who you pretend to be.’ As you think about answering that question, ask yourself if your answer is who you really are, or who you’d pretend to be given the situation or circumstance,” I said.

“I’m glad you made that distinction,” he started, “because I think the majority of us give the answer that makes them look the best in the daily face of adversity. So, to be honest, I’d have to be in the situation to know what I’d do exactly. What about you? Who are you?”

I thought for a long moment as if deciding which I am or which I’d like to pretend to be, but in reality I was trying to determine how best to present the answer I knew to be the truth without seeming overly heroic, because that’s not how I’d like to portray myself.

Tools are just tools

With the anticipation of the Dark Tower stories coming to a theater near you, I was reminded of a quote by the Gunslinger, and I am going to paraphrase (with respect to Mr. King): I do not aim with my hand, I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand, I shoot with my eye. I do not kill with my gun, I kill with my heart.

(If I may have one brief comment, I’d like to say that I’m a big fan of Mr. King and have been since childhood. The way he crafts stories and paints my imagination is wonderfully amazing. Movies are great, but his printed words are genius.)

Now, back to the post. Folks who read my all-to-lazy blog know that I don’t have any issues with guns. I like them. I use them. I shoot them. I’m not political and don’t get into heated debates about their use, or their very existence. Of course, I have my opinions regarding all manner of public debate, but I’m not the kind of person that feels compelled to express them openly. We can talk, if you want. But it’s not a subject I’m going to bring up over coffee just because I don’t have another topic on hand.

That being said, I think this quote by Mr. King expresses what I think about gun violence. The people who commits acts of violence only use guns as tools. They could easily use other tools to commit the terrible acts they intend to. Guns are just the means. Folks who have already committed the act with their mind and their heart, only need to choose their tool.

I am saddened when someone has come to the point in their relationships with fellow humans that they choose to kill with their heart. That’s a sad place to be.

Inspiration From Others

I have long desired writing a story.

I have been a student of the creative process all my life. Not in the sense of wanting to learn to paint or draw or sculpt; no, I have been fascinated by watching others perform what I cannot and, then wishing I could that. When I read, and admittedly it’s not often I have the time, I am amazed at how some authors are able to craft, seemingly fully-formed plots and characters that are both complex and at the same time, effortless.

JRR Tolkien has long been a favorite of mine. Not because his stories have made it to the screen time and time again, but because his education as a linguist and his imagination and historical curiosity  about his own country led him to imagine a history either long-forgotten, or never presented. There has been so much written about how his stories hold the core component of good versus evil and, honestly, it’s quite evident. What I find most appealing is the manner in which he’s joined words to form sentences that, in turn, weave pictures together in my mind. The mark of a good author, if ever there was one.

So I will continue to practice stringing together words that weave stories that I enjoy telling and others may enjoy reading.


The Foot-long Receipt

When I go to the grocery store or my favorite sandwich shop, I’m given a receipt that keeps getting longer and long! How many fuel points did I earn? What are the specials of the day? Care to take a survey; there’s a free cookie in it for you! It’s maddening.

Since I purchase everything with a card (who carries cash anymore), I’m dependent on collecting my receipts to record in my register. (I guess, if I didn’t want to do that anymore, I could go truly Millennial and check my account balance and receipt on my phone after each purchase.) Therefore, I carry around so many wadded receipts that it’s frustrating.

Even if I wasn’t at wit’s end with this phenomena, what is the deal with retailers trying to get more and more information into my hands. Seriously, you already send me a circular in the mail, you send me e-coupons, I can check my fuel points with my app. What more is there to say? Why not allow me, as YOUR consumer, to opt out of the extra-long purchase record? Give me the power to save you some paper! If you’re tracking my shopping behavior so closely, why can’t you see that I NEVER act on the enticements offered on my receipts?

I get that it’s hard to work in all spheres of market and advertising these days. We in America literally have four generations of shoppers using who knows how many levels of data and print media to inform their decisions, but I think that this advertising world has to choose a few well-worn paths and stay with them, eschewing the desire to act on every opportunity. Choose your metric, select your consumer, and direct your efforts toward them (and leave the rest of us alone). Alright, if you’re a grocery store, you’re kind of screwed because everyone still living eats, regardless of age. You’re on your own there. I can’t solve everything for you.

Anyway, rant over. I’ll either change (not likely) or I’ll just keep ripping them in half at the checkout line like I do now.


When I was growing up, my great-grandmother lived in the same town as my grandparents. Having lost her husband before even my mother was born, she lived alone in a small house three blocks from my grandparents. Picture, if you will, a rotund woman with a perennial smile and horn-rimmed glasses. She wasn’t obese by today’s standard; she was what we politely called “big boned.”

Growing up during the turn of the last century, she was still very prim and proper when I was little. She matched her shoes to her handbag, wore a dress every day, and wore gloves to church on Sunday, being the God-fearing Christian woman she was. The other thing she did was bake. I don’t mean the odd cake or a tin of muffins. This woman baked every day. There was a fresh loaf of bread each day with an accompanying cake in a glass cake plate. If you had dinner (lunch) with her on Sunday after church, there was always baked goods.

After the death of her husband, she moved into town at the insistence of her son, my grandfather. He took care of her from that time on. She continued to work, cooking for the residents of a local private Christian college, today’s modern equivalent to a “dorm Mother.” She did that until she finally retired and stayed at home.

I told you that to tell you this. When I was little, I spent weekends at my grandparents house. And because I was always there, my grandmother would direct me to take something to Great-gradnma’s house. I would walk down the alley, cut across the elementary school lawn and walk the half-block to her house. She would invite me in and I’d have a piece of cake and deliver whatever I was tasked with. On the occasion that my parents were in town to pick me up, we’d eat over there. While the meal was being prepared, the kids were asked to go outside and play.

Great-grandma had a gigantic lilac bush in her front yard. It was gigantic to me, anyway. The kids would crawl on hands-and-knees under the bush where the boughs would create a small clubhouse. We’d take our toy soldiers or Hot Wheels under the bush and play until we were called into the house to eat. It was a great time to be a kid.

Great-grandma died in the late 1970’s. Her house was eventually sold and another person moved in. As I got older, I’d drive by the house when I was visiting my ailing Grandmother and look at that ancient lilac bush in the front yard. Eventually, my Grandmother died and the only reason to go back to her town was to visit the cemetery on Memorial Day. I still drive by the houses I used to occupy as a child. Great-grandma’s house is gone and the corner lot is now part of someone’s yard. The lilac bush survives.

Yesterday, I was riding my bicycle long a rural roadway and happened to pass a farmhouse with a large lilac bush out front and the wind was just right, bringing that telltale scent and sending me back to my childhood for just an instant. That smell reminds me of my Great-grandma and I appreciate it every springtime when the purple blooms are in full maturity.

Photo by DougAlder, Flickr, No Derivs.