Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dry-firing with the Beggar of Saigon

The Blind Beggar of Saigon, 1972

Camp Perry is beginning to loom on the horizon.  I've taken all four rifles: AR15, Swiss K31, Garand and 1903A3 down to the studio where I have set up my cart and put up a paster to aim at so I can dry-fire.  Twice a day.  I flip a light I on the target and my jacket hangs on the back of the chair.  A print rail is on the wall a couple of feet in front of my face.  Started off looking at a big Shiprock shadow, then progressed to a night photo, (immediately saw it was printed too dark), and finally to a little matted photo of the Beggar of Saigon.

  The beggar isn't even a photograph, it's a transmitted facsimile of a photo.  Dots.  Lines.  Ebay this Spring.  Shot in 1972 by some un-named AP staffer.  The man is a South Vietnamese soldier, blinded and reduced to begging on a sidewalk.  I dry fire a shot, follow through, then take the rifle down and look at his face.

  Just to the right is a photo of Rick Crawford and a little piece of black ribbon off graveside flowers.

  This is a lot of dryfiring, even for me.  I didn't do this much when I was trying to learn to shoot and I have never worked the old vintage rifles so much.  I think it's helping.  It certainly shows tendencies, flaws, et in your technique and natural point of aim.  Twice a day I shoot three of the four rifles 15 shots each.  The Swiss K31 is the lightest.  My AR is the heaviest by far.  Full kit: sweatshirt, shooting glasses, cart, green eyeshade, muffs.

  As I'm picking up details in my offhand I'm also seeing details in the photo.  He is on a sidewalk, not the street.  There is a little awning in the upper right corner.  Someone just walked out of the left side of the frame.  Click, click, click.  He's probably dead and long gone.....or he could be right there, right now, 40 years later.  People are tough.

 I will probably replace him in a few days, or he might go with me all the way through the National Championships.  I've kind of gotten used to talking to him about my offhand.

Morning Shadow, Shiprock, New Mexico.

  5:30.  Better go dry-fire a little bit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When the Conductor jumps off the train.....

When the conductor jumps off the train, do NOT take time to investigate to see why he jumped.  Instead, try to land in his pocket.

Lonesome George

Maybe he would have done better with another name, like Tom Jones.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monster Gar.

I'm all for hunting and fishing...but.  Seems like a gar this big ought to get a little life respect.  It's really no contest between bowhunter and spawning gar.

  Longer version.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shiprock speed ascent.

Climbs out right where I've taken some great photos.  Tough kid.

I just wanted to see a 30 million dollar painting.

And they don't even show it.


New barrel on AR, a friend had an unfired Les Baer, time to go to the range.  I fired one shot out of the AR to see where it was at 25 yards, put it aside and started on the Les Baer 1911.  Nice gun.  (Mine is loaned out.)  It was way left and low at 25 yards and I kept clicking away until it was in the middle.  I noticed that over about 50 rounds it grouped better and better until it was inside the 10 ring at 25 yards. We shot it a little at 100 and both had about 95% hits.  Great pistol.  No failures-to-feed at all with Walmart white box Winchester 230 FMJs.

  Next I picked up the AR and shot offhand, with jacket and glove, at 200.  Had to click around a bit but finally got it right on call.  Next I picked up the 1903A3 and with some 30-06 1968 match ammo, got it going.  Then on to the K31 which was right when I left it last year when I won the National Vintage Rifle Championship.

  The new barrel on my AR is a Kreiger that they gave me for winning the Vintage Championship at Camp Perry.

Mob? Who You calling a mob?

Villagers do it the old-fashioned way, avenge Buttercup and Floppy.

Desert news

I don't think I have a photo of a Saguaro Cactus, but will definitely be approaching them with an air of expectancy.

Getting weird out West.  But if you can't swim naked in Arizona....where CAN you swim naked?

How do they know these are old artifacts?  They could have been used last Spring.

This lady could have used one full of water.  Desert more dangerous than it seems.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Being 60.

Birthday cake knife.

  Of course I'm not quite there yet, or am I?  I was born very late on a Friday night in June.  Doctor Willingham actually asked mom if she wanted to wait a few minutes and birth me on the 14th, instead of Friday the 13th, but she was ready and I was ready, so here I am.

  This is all just stuff people told me.  Hearsay, in court.  Not admissable.  I really have no idea.

  Very fortunate to be delivered into this particular place in geography and history: after antibiotics, as the effects of a planet-wide war began to ease, in Texas with white skin.  It's a moment in history to be envied by nearly all of humanities members.  To those of us IN it though, it just is the way things were and have always been.  And that's not so.  Could have easily been born in China, the way most people are, or in the hordes of India.  Could have come to conciousness in some regressive Soviet or Islamic system, in blighted Africa, in a moment ravaged by the black death, volcanic cataclysm or other systemic disaster.  Instead, there I was in a verdant landscape and booming economy, with historically low infant mortality, good schools, churches and a political system so libertarian that they met only 180 days every two years.

  Nothing stays the same.  We took that system and ran it into the ground.  If you meet a legislature every two years and pass 500 new laws every session, after 60 years you have 15,000 new laws.  I'm low-balling by a factor of 10, as the bureaucracies and regulators have done so many, many good things that today what isn't prohibited is mandatory.  For the children.  The schools are rich, and ruined.  The local governments work if you know somebody.  If a few percent of the eligible voters bother to turn out in an election it's a shock.  A whole culture has walked over the border, sat down among us and is ignored.  If I walk the dog without my ID, her tags, a leash and a ziplock to pick up dog poop I risk being fined, heavily and my dog killed.  The hispanic kids ride bikes around the neighborhood as God intended: without the required bike helmets.  They are ignored.  No hard feelings, its just the way a system changes over time.  Still, don't brag about freedom to me.  That's over.

  But 60.  That's something.  I've outlived my grandfathers, grandmothers, my dad, his brothers, my brother, a nephew, slews of classmates and aquaintances.  Married thrice.  Have a daughter who is grown enough to make her own way.  Lived several lifetimes.  These days 60 can be youngish, and I have no major complaints.  Still in original equipment and it works.  Climbed and hunted out of trees last fall and hiked all over Shiprock at 6700 feet in March with 5X7 camera.    I could drop dead tomorrow but still wouldn't warrant a complaint.  I've been very fortunate to be in the body I'm in.  I've ran and biked and hiked and photographed and danced and shot my way onto National Match winning teams.  I'm the current National Vintage Rifle Champion until they hold it again in August at Camp Perry.  High Master.  Probably the last person to win the Texas Highpower Championship with a Service Rifle.  Double Distinguished.  My gun guru died....and he was a few years younger than ME.  Lucky stuff.

  And speaking of the lucky stuff: the people.  OMG.  When you are 60 you know LOTS of people, especially a Gemini who is kind of in the people business: teaching and photography.  A friend of mine says that when you know 200 people you know everybody.  She's right....and I know a LOT more than 200 people.  I've been blessed with the best folks in the world, Christian Westerners, since day one.    There might be better folks in an ashram somewhere or perhaps there was a clan of practical zen jokers way back in the Neolithic until they were eaten by lions but compared to late 20th century Texans...they were just....some guys, you know?  Guy friends and girl friends, cousins, neighbors, deer hunters, teachers, classmates, team mates, more girlfriends.  It's been an avalanche of really great folks, even the knotheads.  I can think of only one person I am happy to have dead, even though I know several fairly evil folks.  He's Terry Danielson who used to live next door to me here on Lindsey Lane.  Terry lived for and relished in other folks misery.  Then he died.  I'm still glad about it.  But besides him Its been a party every day.   My last wife, Katie, gets me, and I get her, in a way that has brought both of us a lot of contentment since day one.  We walk our Lucy dog to our offices and our favorite coffee shop full of our favorite neighbors every day.  Very lucky.

  But anything that can't go on forever, won't.  60 is on the way out, not the way in.  I'm coaching, not shooting this year for the Texas team at the Nationals.  What can I expect to happen in the next five years, the next ten, the next twenty, when I may not have a month?  What CAN I get done?  Well, first of all, my will is signed and sealed and Katie knows where it is.  My computer passwords are on a list.  I'm actively downsizing some of the detrius that tends to accumulate over 60 years to make things easier when I depart this lucky place.  We've talked in frank terms, so that's set.  Artistically, I feel like I'm at the top of my game with several projects cooking along.  I'm sticking with sheet film and my Deardorff as long as I can and hope to see Shiprock and crunch my way up to the Diving Board at Yosemite a few more times while I can still carry my own gear.  I bought a new lens on Ebay just the other day while selling off the stuff I will never use again.  My 40 year old darkcloth just got rebuilt.  I'd like to concentrate more on showing than shooting and get more work stashed in collections that will outlast me, but still want to make more negatives.

  It's summertime in Texas.  Getting hot again.  Our folks usually die in the Spring and that's past.  After the National Matches the semester fires up.  New kids for the fall and we have a trip planned in the winter.  God willing.  I'll be 60 tonight near midnight and will celebrate by being asleep.  But not for good and not quite yet.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TSRA Team Practice at Bayou Rifles.

Well-attended and productive practice at Bayou.  Lots of good shooting.

Group heads for the 200 yard line to start the Sunday match.

Ken Gaby.

Randy with range and club record certificates.

Clay in a moment of deep thought.

Keith Stephens on his way to a 192.

Offhand stances.

Gaby shooting offhand.

Jason shooting offhand.

Hefner left and Gaby right.

Property Taxes in North Dakota

What a whacky idea- that the state could take your WHOLE property if you didn't pay a tax on it every year.  Basically it meant that you could NEVER own, free and clear, any property, no matter how long you lived on it or how much you paid the state and the school district.  THEY own it.  You just are passing through.  Wouldn't it be more fair to fight over the amount, rather than the state having the power to seize the whole thing if you are a dollar short?  Shouldn't the taxes END at some point, say after you pay for 20, 30, or 40 years on a place?  Where's the social justice?  Property taxes have grown to where Americans currently pay more in taxes than morgage every year.  That's mind-boggling.

  I'm not in favor of abolishing them, just ending them after you own a place free and clear or have paid for a few decades or you reach a certain age.  And if you don't pay them the fight should be over those dollars, not your whole place.  I know it would be a mess...but it's a mess NOW out of balance in favor of the guys in the leather chairs downtown who run the whole shebang.  They already give exemptions and set asides and they can't pretend like the system isn't already compromised.  The big users of property taxes are the schools.  Add a user tax and let the folks who USE the schools PAY the most, (not all), and bring some social justice to the culture.

Here's a reform list in bullet points:

1. Penalties in a dispute ought to be the amount owed, not the title to the property in question.

2. Property owned for 25+ years by the same person to be removed from the tax rolls.

3. Citizens over 80 shall not pay property tax.

Presto: social justice and fairness, common sense and balance brought to the system!

# CAUTION: Second story linked above is via the New York Times.  I cannot vouch for factual accuracy, hidden political agenda or even grammar.