Life Among The Gun Nuts

So the other day I was parked in my chair writing this here blog, when I became aware of a fly buzzing around. I ignored it for a while, but when Doc came home from work, I asked him where he kept the fly spray.

“Fly spray? Fly spray? I don’ need no steenkin’ fly spray,” he exclaimed, went away and came back with this thing, the “Bug-A-Salt(TM) The Original Salt Gun”:

For those of you unaware of this Implement of Death, it’s essentially a low-powered pump-action pneumatic shotgun which shoots table salt at insects.

So I popped the fly with the Bug-A-Salt at close range. It buzzed around a bit, somewhat erratically, so thinking I hadn’t hit it squarely, I moved the gun closer and popped the fly again. No effect. So I said a Bad Word, and gave it yet another load of salt. This time it fell to the windowsill, but it was still kicking. So I gave it one last shot, and finally the little bastard snuffed it — at least, he was still lying there a couple hours later. Four shots of salt to kill a single fly — I should have just butt-stroked the damn thing.

This alleged insect-killing device was made in China, and perhaps their flies are not as tough as our Texas flying assholes, which make a noise like a buzz-saw and can crack a window-pane with a single headbutt.

Needless to say, this caused some discussion between Doc and myself, and we came to the conclusion that we either need to drill out a larger bore on the gun barrel to increase the gross projectile weight, or use a larger shot size (i.e. coarse kosher salt), or both.

I’ll keep you posted.

Flying Aces

Although I have something of a reputation for being a gun nut, I’m more of an admirer than an aficionado. Sure, I can tell the difference between most older bolt-action rifles with just a brief inspection (because that’s a particular passion of mine), but the model numbers of the various Glock, SIG and S&W guns leave me cross-eyed with confusion. Unless I actually own or want a particular model, I have little interest in its stablemates, clones, extensions or forerunners.

When it comes to things aeronautical, I’m likewise not one of those obsessive types who can tell at a glance the difference between a Spitfire Mk.III or Mk.IX, but my goodness, I do love the shape of the things:

One of the very few regrets of my life is that apart from puttering around with a friend’s ultralight, I never learned to fly and get my PPL, because I would love to have taken a WWII-era fighter aircraft for a quick flight. Even the much-maligned Hawker Hurricane has not escaped my gaze:

The great WWII flying ace Douglas Bader flew both in action during the Battle of Britain, and his comment was that while he loved the agility and performance of the Spit, he grew to appreciate the Hurri as a rock-solid gun platform that could withstand an incredible amount of punishment — even though its rear fuselage was made entirely of canvas-covered wood.

I’ve seen a Spitfire in the flesh, as it were, as well as its major opponent, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, as both were displayed at the War Museum in Johannesburg.

What struck me then, as now, is how small those wonderful aircraft are. Also at the museum was one of the few remaining Me 262 jet aircraft, and by comparison to the dainty 109, it was a great hulking brute of a thing:

…although I have to tell you, that shark-like fuselage has its own particular attraction for me too.

As a boy, I was fascinated by WWII fighter aircraft and built models of almost all of them: Spitfire, Hurricane, P-51 Mustang, Me 109; you name it, I probably built it. As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to understand just what it is that attracted me (and still does to this day) to these aircraft, and I think I’ve finally figured it out.

These were not the fragile, unreliable and dangerous aircraft of WWI, nor are they the techno-laden jet fighters of the post-WWII era. Instead, they were flying machines which made you feel like you were part of a miracle. The speeds were nowhere close to supersonic (a modern-day Bugatti Veyron has a top speed just 100mph slower than that of a 1939 Hurricane), and honestly, I think my criterion for these WWII fighter planes is one of enjoyment: you’re going fast, but not that fast that you have no time to think about the experience. Kind of like the difference between, say, a Caterham 7 and a Pagani Zonda.

     

I like both, but I’d rather drive a Caterham than a Zonda for the same reason that I prefer a bolt-action rifle to a full-auto rifle: there’s more of an element of actively making the 7 and the turnbolt work, rather than just controlling the Zonda and (say) a BAR. Speed has little to do with it, although I suspect that the thrill of speed in a Caterham may be every bit as good as in a Zonda, even though the latter may be going half as fast again as the 7. Fast is fast: what’s the difference is how much one can feel it — and I suspect that without a speedometer to tell you the difference, you might not be able to quantify it that much.

So give me a good old WWII aircraft — the aeronautical equivalent of the Caterham — any day of the week.

And to quote a friend in a different context: when I see a pic like this one, parts of me start to tingle that haven’t tingled in a long while.

Can you imagine the sound those nine Merlin-engined beauties make as they thunder overhead? I don’t smoke, but I’m pretty sure I’d want a cigarette after that flyover.

Carry Knives

Via Insty, there’s this interesting article about the proper knife to carry on one’s person, and how to carry it, etc., with all the caveats about legality and such.

However, the writer’s basic premise is that nobody should leave home without carrying some sort of blade, and it’s a sentiment that I wholeheartedly support. Honestly, I’ve been more likely to forget my 1911 than my carry knife, especially when I’m in a dead hurry. Hell, I’ve forgotten my wallet but still had a knife on me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to use my blade just in the past year, whether it’s cutting fruit (often) or a stick of dried meat (very often), or cheese (almost every other day, on the way back from the supermarket when the urge to taste the cheese can be overwhelming). And, of course, there’s always that stubborn piece of knotted string, or an over-wrapped package that needs a little coaxing.

As to which blade, of course, we are going to have all sorts of interesting discussions, you betcha. I have two favorites, both presents from The Mrs. from her various business trips: a beautiful Al Mar “Secret Service” from Tokyo, and my favorite folder of all, a Julius Herbertz from Ahrweil, Germany. Here they are, top to bottom as mentioned:

Here’s the thing: I’m aware that the Cold Steel this and the Gerber that are probably “better” knives than these two in terms of fighting or survival or whatever. I don’t care. If there’s going to be a fight, I carry a 1911 for that purpose; and in a survival situation, one razor-sharp blade is going to be pretty much as good as another.

I prefer to carry beautiful knives; and in my opinion (and remember, beauty is the ultimate subjective opinion), the Al Mar with its simple yet elegant pointed blade, and the Herbertz with its swooping edge are more beautiful than any Cold Steel / Gerber knives ever made. Here’s another pic of the Herbertz which shows off its walnut grip a little better:

In any company, that’s a knife which frequently draws ooohs and aaaahs from people who appreciate fine cutlery. (I apologize for the picture quality, by the way; I’m still getting used to the smartphone camera instead of my old Canon, which was already packed for the move.)

And I refuse to apologize for the rather battered state of my carry knives. They may be beautiful, but they have to work for me — which is the ultimate criterion for any tool, right?

Men, Explained

Yeah, maybe. On the other hand, there are thousands of buffalo to be had, but there’s only one fine piece of lioness poontang in the immediate vicinity. And as this is a kitchen metaphor: let’s face it, when she’s wearing that lil’ apron, standing there all hot and bothered, maybe a little messy with flour all over her, ponytail working itself loose, maybe a stray strand of hair falling down her cheek…

…I can kinda see our guy’s motivation.

Altered Ego

Writing that postscript about my friend Patterson last week brought up a random thought about alter egos, because when I first made him public on the old blog a couple of people genuinely thought that I was using him as a proxy to make all sorts of outrageous and non-PC utterances. I let it ride and never commented one way or the other because I found it amusing.

For pretty much all of my online life I’ve blogged, written and commented using my actual name — it’s called “taking responsibility for what you say” — and therefore I don’t need to hide behind anyone else’s persona to call Hillary Clinton a rancid Commie bitch, John McCain a wartime hero / peacetime fuckup, or Chuck Schumer a loathsome cocksucker, as I have been known to do on occasion.

With all that said, though, I have to say that there have been two Kims in my lifetime: a naughty, horrible, cruel and mischievous Kim who would do anything for a laugh or a dare, the more outrageous the better — and let’s just call him “Evil Kim”. Evil Kim once told a boss to stop fucking with me and instead go home to fuck his wife, as I had done the night before (and yes, I had indeed done just that, while he was out of town on a business trip — it was her idea, by the way, and she eventually left him because he was a total dickhead). As Evil Kim, I once put a fist through an office wall because I got sick of some asshole taunting me — actually, the punch was intended for him, but I misjudged the distance between us.  When the CEO called me into his office to reprimand me for the action, I told him the circumstances behind the punch, and said that he could fire me if he wanted to, but I wasn’t going to apologize either privately or in public. He didn’t fire me (I have no idea why not, other than maybe because I was really good at my job and our clients loved me). Evil Kim was also a serious philanderer who kicked down the door of several ladies’ boudoirs to have his way with them, sometimes two in the same night and once, memorably, four times over a single weekend. Evil Kim also stuck a gun (Colt Combat Commander) into a guy’s nose when said guy took offence to Evil Kim having bedded his wife on a camping trip while the cuckold was out on the lake in a boat, fishing — and it wasn’t the first time I’d stuck a gun up a guy’s nose, either.

That, then, is a thumbnail portrait of Evil Kim.

Many years later came a quieter, kinder, less abrasive Kim — and we’ll call him “Nice Kim”. Nice Kim was (and is) more respectful of people’s feelings, would be less likely to get into fistfights in bars over trivial arguments, is not on first-name terms with most barmen (and especially barmaids) in the area, and might only lash out when severely irritated or provoked.

Nice Kim came about because I met and fell in love with a woman named Connie, back in 1996. Within a very short space of time Connie gentled me, made me less of an absolute bastard and more acceptable, say, in polite company — something that no other woman, including a brace of ex-wives, had managed to do.  What may astonish you is that the person you’ve known through this and earlier blogs has actually been Nice Kim writing.

I’ll leave to your imagination what kind of blog would have been written by Evil Kim.

I won’t say that Nice Kim has had the field all to himself, though. A good friend once called me long-distance to tell me of his frustration about the fact that his kid sister was being abused by her asshole of a husband. I listened till he reached the end of his story, and asked him what he wanted me to do about the situation — and without prompting, Evil Kim outlined his options. Did he want me just to chastise the little prick, say, into a hospital ward? Or did he want the wife-beater to go away? When my friend realized the implications of what I was actually offering, he calmed down a great deal and told me that I didn’t need to get involved, he’d take care of the matter himself.

Now that Connie has left my life, I’ve noticed that Evil Kim occasionally pokes his head around the corner, eager to make my re-acquaintance. I have to say, I’ve kinda missed the old rogue and we may go out and play together in the future.

Just in closing, I told a close friend about Nice Kim and Evil Kim (he’s only ever known Nice Kim). He listened as I went through a small part of the catalog of horrors (and they were far, far worse than the ones I mentioned above). When I was done, I warned him about the possibility of Evil Kim putting in the occasional appearance. His only comment: “I can’t wait.”

Which should tell you all about the caliber of my friends.

Fernando And Me

Some time back, I happened upon an interview with F1 driver and former World Champion, Fernando Alonso. At the end of the interview, Alonso was asked a series of questions, and the eclectic nature of the questions intrigued me. So, if Fernando will forgive me, I’ve posted his responses with mine immediately underneath.

If you could pick just one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fernando Alonso: Pizza.
Kim: Boerewors [South African sausage] with Jarlsberg cheese on the side.

If you could pick just one [tropical] holiday destination…
Alonso: The Maldives.
Kim: The Seychelles — if not so far away and spendy, I’d go there annually. And I don’t even like tropical paradises.

If you could pick just one track to race on…
Alonso: Suzuka.
Kim: Spa Francorchamps, in any type of car.

If you could pick just one F1 corner to drive…
Alonso: Eau Rouge [Spa].
Kim: Ditto. Here’s why.

If you could pick just one race car to drive…
Alonso: McLaren MP4/4.
Kim: 1959 Ferrari 246 F1 — still one of the most beautiful racers ever made.

If you could pick just one F1 era to race in…
Alonso: The 90s.
Kim: The late 1950s — yeah, it was dangerous; don’t care.

If you could pick just one road car to drive…
Alonso: The McLaren P1.
Kim: 2017 Bentley Continental.

If you could pick just one other motorsport to watch…
Alonso: MotoGP.
Kim: World Endurance Championship Series, esp. Le Mans (long video).

If you could pick just one video game to play…
Alonso: I play a lot of football games. Probably it would be FIFA.
Kim: Probably none; maybe EA Sports Cricket, if I had to choose one.

If you could pick just one colour to wear…
Alonso: Black.
Kim: Dark blue or -green.

If you could pick just one sport to play…
Alonso: Basketball.
Kim: Cricket. Test cricket, at Lord’s.

If you could pick just one song to listen to…
Alonso: “Have A Nice Day” by Bon Jovi.
Kim: “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas (assuming the genre is rock ‘n roll).

If you could pick just one thing to drink…
Alonso: Apple juice.
Kim: Fresh squeezed OJ, from South African oranges.

If you could pick just one book to read…
Alonso: “Open” by Andre Agassi.
Kim: Fiction: “Goshawk Squadron” by Derek Robinson; non-fiction: “The Proud Tower” by Barbara Tuchman.

If you could pick just one city to live in…
Alonso: Oviedo, my hometown.
Kim: Vienna, Austria:

or Plano TX (my new apartment will be just around the corner):

If you could pick just one movie to watch…
Alonso: It would be a comedy…
Kim: “A Good Year” by Ridley Scott — I watch it about once a month anyway.

If you could pick just one person to live with…
Alonso: That is a work in progress.
Kim: Nobody. Splendid isolation, remember?

If you could pick just one fruit to eat…
Alonso: Banana.
Kim: South African white peach, or papaya (paw-paw).

If you could pick just one vegetable to eat…
Alonso: Courgette.
Kim: Potato, in all its various forms.

If you could pick just one mode of transport to use…
Alonso: Train. I like to use trains. Everywhere that I can, I take trains.
Kim: A performance saloon car like a Maserati Quattroporte or Bentley.

If you could pick just one gadget to own…
Alonso: iPhone.
Kim: Laptop PC — I’d say a Smartphone, but the screen’s too small to read.

If you could pick just one age to be…
Alonso: 23 or 24. From then on it is only going downhill!
Kim: 25 or 26. (I absolutely ruled at that age.)

If you could pick just one band or singer to listen to…
Alonso: Bon Jovi.
Kim: Procol Harum.

If you could pick just one thing to collect…
Alonso: Probably watches.
Kim: Also watches, or electric guitars.

If you could pick just one type of shoe to wear…
Alonso: Sneakers.
Kim: Minnetonka moccasins. That’s pretty much all I wear anyway, unless it’s cold or raining.

If you could pick just one type of chocolate or candy to snack on…
Alonso: Lollipop.
Kim: Buchanan’s Clotted Cream Fudge, from Britain.

If you could pick just one famous celebrity to date…
Alonso: Probably Charlize Theron.
Kim: Nigella Lawson or Carol Vorderman.

And of course, I have to justify my two choices with completely gratuitous pics of Nigella and Carol:

  

Yeah, I have a type. And finally:

If you could pick just one piece of exercise equipment to train with…
Alonso: Bicycle.
Kim: Bar stool.