Warm-Up

Every so often I get it right.  A few years ago, Mr. Free Market decided that he wanted to go hunting in Africa — South Africa, as it happened — and asked me for any tips I might have which would make his trip more successful.

There’s not a whole lot I can tell Mr. FM about hunting — he’s an excellent shot, has hunted all over Europe and despite all his skill, he’s always willing to learn more, whether from his guides or from other hunters.  Needless to say, he’s a very successful hunter, as I’ve occasionally noted on these pages.

I thought about it for a while, and really had only two pieces of advice:

Use enough gun.  African game is unbelievably tough, and what would be a killing shot on a North American whitetail with a .30-06 will not anchor a similarly-sized antelope (e.g. blesbuck) on the African continent.  Even a tiny warthog, when whacked with a light cartridge like the .30-06, will run for over a quarter-mile before dying.  The very fact that a .30-06 is characterized as a “light” cartridge should be a warning.  I used to hunt with either .308 Win or 7mm Mauser, but if I was going to shoot anything large or dangerous, I used borrowed rifles in either .375 H&H or (only once, because owie) .458 Win Mag.
But Mr. FM had that covered, using a .375 H&H Magnum chambering which could handle pretty much anything short of elephant or rhino.

The next piece of advice had nothing to do with hunting.

Get a suntan before going over.  Nothing quite prepares you for the African sun, especially if you’re hunting at higher altitudes than a few hundred feet above sea level.  You would think that as you go higher, the weather becomes cooler;  no, it just gets less humid.  (Think:  Arizona high desert vs. South Texas Hill Country, only with Arizona about ten degrees hotter.)
And Mr. FM is a Brit, with the typical fair skin — not, thank gawd, the fish-belly white of the Irish — that has led to all Brits being known colloquially as “Rooineks” (red necks, from the sunburn) by the locals.

So he did, visiting a tanning salon every other day for a couple-three weeks before setting out.  And on his return, Mr. FM said that of all the advice he’d been given, that was the best.  And even after arriving in South Africa with what he thought was a deep tan, he went still several shades darker after a week in the bush.  Had he not had the tanning sessions, he admitted that he’d have been confined to the indoors after the first day’s hunting.  And that’s no way to go through a hunting trip, son.

So why am I talking about this?  Because I was reminded of the topic by this picture, seen in The Sun [sic] newspaper:

In Africa, the girl on the right would burn slightly after a couple hours outdoors;  but the pale one on the left would blister after maybe fifteen minutes.  Yes, it’s that bad.

Ultimate LDR News

Finally — finally! — I was able to get to the range yesterday, and I think the sighting-in is almost complete.  Good grief, it’s been so long (thank you, Chinkvirus), that I probably need to remind y’all what the heck I’m talking about (link):

Here’s the target, at 100 yards:

That was with El Cheapo (Prvi Partizan) ammo.  LOL on me, by the way:  in the five-shot group, the bottom three were the first fired;  then I adjusted the scope and fired off two (the top two that are almost touching) — only I adjusted the scope UP instead of DOWN because Idiot Kim.  Finally got it more or less right, although I’m peeved that none of the final three were touching.

Next week, I’ll try a couple different makes over two or more range sessions, see which one works best, and then hold the drawing next weekend.   Which means the Hawkeye should be on its way to its new owner around August 20.

Good luck to you all.

Shorter Degree

Via Insty I saw the redoubtable Joanne Jacobs’s take on this topic.  Back when I decided to go back to college, I was astonished to learn that a simple B.A. degree would take me four years to attain.  Four years?  Everywhere else in the world only requires three.

Then I studied the curriculum, and started to understand why the late Joseph Sobran lamented that in a single generation, our society had “progressed” from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English at university — a.k.a. the “core curriculum” which required a full year to be wasted on shit like “how to write a sentence” (English 101), “how the U.S. and state governments work” (Pol Sci 001/002), “Math For Dummies” (Math 001), and so on.  Even a “trimmed” course load for this mandatory study looks dubious, as Jacobs notes:

[Greg] Poliakoff would require all students to take “expository writing, literature, a college-level mathematics course, a natural science course, an economics course, a survey in U.S. history or government, and three semesters of a foreign language.”

What a total waste of time, in my case at any rate.  Fortunately, there are ways to “test out” of various courses — for some reason, the fact that I had published three novels somehow persuaded the English Department that I wouldn’t need English 101, for instance — so I was able to reduce some of the bullshit course load, but still not enough to shorten the four years into three that way.

Next, I ran into the stupid restriction that only allows students to take on four courses per semester which, when I studied the course content, made it plain that I would be prevented from tackling five and even six, even though it was easily doable.  My pleas to the Arts Faculty to do so were rejected Because Rules — clearly, the rules are there to protect the Grease Pit Set and Snowflakes from actual hard work, whereas I could see at a glance that the content for all but the 4-level History courses was not only light but superficial.  (Without exception, my requests for a supplemental reading list for a course were met with a “you’re not from this planet” look from the various professors — one admitted to me that she had never received such a request from a student before.  At Wits University in Johannesburg back in the 1970s, every liberal arts course had a supplemental reading list which, while not officially required, was necessary if you wanted to actually pass the course.)

So I attacked the degree with ferocity, taking all the summer / winter vacation classes I could.  (Strange, isn’t it, that professors can teach a course in three weeks that takes a full semester otherwise?)

Anyway, with all that my B.A. still took me three and a half years*, simply because the course schedules often didn’t jell with my degree plan — the one course I needed for a French sub-major (Business French) wasn’t taught in any “summer-mester”, and clashed with a History class during the regular semester, so I ended up taking instead a useless class of English short stories (during which the professor admitted to me privately that I could have taught, let alone studied) and passing up on a French sub-major.

The cynic in me thinks that the overly-long undergraduate degree is driven simply by financial greed — one less year equals a loss of $30,000 in revenue per student — but I will concede that without the bullshit core curriculum, the failure / dropout rate would probably be much higher than it already is.  (And that, of course, is the fault of the high school education kids get these days, but don’t get me started.)

It’s a racket, pure and simple.


*summa cum laude (for my non-U.S. Readers, that means a 90%+ final grade for every course)

Exemplary

When I finally arrived in the U.S. following the Great Wetback Episode, I lived in northwest Austin with Longtime Buddy Trevor while waiting for my visa to be processed.  Having come from the supermarket business in Seffrica, I was keen to see just how good U.S. supermarkets were by comparison, so I went off to the local H.E.B. store just a couple hundred yards away from his apartment.  It was good, very good;  and I became a huge fan of the chain and its operation.  (Full disclosure:  I did once apply for a job at H.E.B., but I was turned down — not by HR, but by an exec VP who called me, complimented me on my resume, and semi-apologized for not hiring me because, as he said, I was not only over-qualified for a senior position there, but horribly over-qualified and they couldn’t fire someone just to take me on.  Classy move — executive to executive instead of fobbing it off onto some HR clerk — and it only increased my admiration for the chain.)

My only quibble with living here in metro North Texas is that there are no H.E.B. stores anywhere nearby (Central Market is owned by H.E.B., but it’s a different division altogether and caters mostly to upscale customers).  I don’t know why there aren’t — the common saying is that 50% of South Texas shopped at an H.E.B. last week — and as I see it, the only reason that it isn’t 50% of all Texas is that they don’t have any stores up here.

This article (found via the Knuckledragger, thankee Kenny) is just one reason why I respect their business and miss their stores.  If H.E.B. were to open one nearby, none of the others — Kroger, Tom Thumb, Market Street, Aldi or Wal-Mart — would ever see me again.

Come on, Steve;  get your South Texas asses up here.

Different Time

I sense that people I speak to are getting tired of me excusing excesses of my youth by saying, “It was a different time.”

Granted, the difference between then and now (for so many things) is vast, but not much compared to, say, my earlier life and the late Victorian- or even Edwardian eras.  Now that was a jump.

What brought this all to mind is the story of former King Juan Carlos of Spain:

His passion for exclusive sports, from hunting and shooting to skiing and yacht-racing, has been matched only by the vigour with which he has pursued women, clocking up roughly 5,000 sexual partners, according to a historian called Amadeo Martinez Ingles, who, in a recent book, dubbed him ‘an authentic royal stud’ and ‘sexual predator’ whose list of best-known conquests ‘represents the tip of a monumental sexual iceberg’.
During one short spell at military academy in his early 20s, Juan Carlos seduced 332 different women, according to Ingles, whose research drew on confidential reports compiled by spies of the country’s former dictator, General Franco.
He has described the tally as ‘good for any actor specialising in porn films — four per week’. At the height of the King’s romantic career, a ‘passionate period’ between 1976 and 1994, Ingles reckons he bedded 2,154 women.
Even in his so-called ‘winter period’ of 2005 to 2014, when he was aged between 67 and 76 and supposedly slowing down, the King’s libido seems to have remained as unchecked as that of his namesake, the legendary seducer Don Juan, allowing him to squire another 191 mistresses.

Hey, great work if you can get it.  Of course, this Evil Womaniser And Seducer once turned Spain from a fascist dictatorship into a parliamentary democracy but that’s just, like, Ancient History, Dude.

Men in positions of power seldom lack for female attention — ’twas ever thus — and let’s be honest, the king of a Mediterranean country… Grace Kelly, anyone?   The higher the rank, the classier the totty.

And his latest — last? one hopes not — squeeze probably epitomizes the type, being a commoner who married into royalty herself:  the wonderfully-named Corinna, Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a Danish chick who married up (and up again) before finally ending up in the bed of the old Spanish goat.

I know, I know:  who cares about outdated political constructs like royalty, anyway?  Of course it’s not important.  But an average of four women per week for over forty years?  Even for those different times, that’s impressive.

Flying Rats

I think I’ve told this story before, but anyway…

When I was at The Englishman’s cottage in Cornwall, I had the rare pleasure of hanging out with the Sorensons (Mrs. Sor is “The Catholic” in Comments) for a couple days.  I walked down to the kitchen one morning to find Mrs. Sor sitting alone drinking tea.

“Where’s Himself?” I asked.
“Down by the harbor, feeding Tesco plastic bags to the seagulls.”

He hates seagulls, and so do I.

When I read this sorry tale, I just shook my head.

Monique Sveinsson, 46, from Cambridgeshire, was on a mini-break with her friend Emma Wilshaw when she was attacked by the hungry seagulls at Brighton beach on August 3.
The mother-of-two, who runs her own planner and diary company, described how the aggressive birds circled above her before launching themselves at her food and flying away with the chips.

There is a way to deal with these airborne rodents, and anyone who is going to the seaside (or anywhere seagulls are in abundance, e.g. the Great Lakes) should avail themselves of this advice.

  • Go to your local Goodwill or thrift store, and buy an old tennis- or handball racquet, the older and more battered (therefore cheaper) the better.  (Tennis is better, as it has a longer handle.)

  • Leave it in the trunk of your car.
  • Then, when going to any place where there are seagulls, take it with you.
  • When the gulls start to pester you, swat them like flies.

I had to live in San Francisco for a couple weeks on a client assignment, and my walk to the office from the hotel took me through a couple parks.  The fucking crows and seagulls didn’t just annoy me, they attacked me, pecking at my head.

So on the way back from the client I stopped at a junk store and bought a racquet.  Then when I  went to the park the next day, the little bastards attacked me again.  Miraculously, however, they stopped attacking me after I’d popped three of them out of the sky. (It’s just a little more strenuous than playing badminton.)

Some stupid Karen took offense and called the cops on me.  When the cop asked me what I’d been doing and I told him, he stifled a laugh and said, “I’m going to have to confiscate that weapon.”  Then he winked at me and said, “I’ve been wanting to do what you did for ten years.  Enjoy your stay.”  And he walked off, swinging the racquet like a billyclub.  I think he was daring the birds to attack him.

As with all my advice given on these pages, there’s a “you’re on your own if you follow it” warning.

But I have to tell you, it’s almost as much fun as shooting them with a shotgun.