Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Something Is On My mind...

...and I'll tell you what it is: What has me bothered is the continuing unrest in the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which we refer to, in the United States, as the Episcopal Church. A Church body that is in full communion with my own. You see, the American branch of the Anglican communion has taken a courageous, and wholly Christian stance (in my view) by not only ordaining women, but electing openly gay people to serve as priests. This has caused a great deal of unrest in American church, as you might imagine.

It was reported, three days ago, in the Washington Post, that Colorado's largest Episcopal Church, Grace Church & St. Stephen's academy (est. 1872), in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has elected to leave the American Episcopal church, and enter into association with an ultra-conservative Anglican church body from Nigeria.

Why? Because various congregations in the United States want to use the word of God to codify their bigotry.

This isn't a new thing, unfortunately. In recent years, the Episcopal church has done some things that don't sit well with it's more conservative members. First, in the 1970's the U.S. church started ordaining women as Priests, Next, in 2003, an openly gay Priest, The Reverend Gene Robinson...

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...was elected and consecrated as the Bishop for New Hampshire. In 2006, a woman, Bishop Kathrine Jefferts Schiori, of Nevada, was elected as Presiding Bishop for the entire American church.

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That did it! The conservative elements had had all they were going to take. Many Parishes left after the consecration of the gay Bishop, and over the past year, dozens parishes had elected to leave the church with Jefferts Schori's ascension and the determination of the national church body to continue to bless same-sex unions and refusal to exclude gay members.

I, for one, applaud the action of the Episcopal church. At a time when many churches are taking the stand of exclusivity, as if the church is some sort of country club that needs to keep out the rabble, and in some cases deciding to not decide, the Episcopal church has taken a stand, that I consider to be in line with the theology of Jesus Christ: That all are welcome.

I mean, I could get deeply scriptural here, but I won't... there are plenty of places you can find that if you want. Here it is: Why is it that churches will split over homosexuality, but not over adultery? over homosexuality, but not over lying; sexual infidelity or "sexually inappropriate" behavior by the Pastor; theft; spousal abuse; and on and on? I'll tell you why... because people like having another group to hate... and it is particularly helpful to hate a group that you can get the clergy to agree with you on. You see, we Christians like to feel holy when we sin.

I'll say that again: We Christians like to feel holy when we sin.

It isn't fashionable to be openly racist in America anymore, especially in the church, but thankfully we still have one group that we can openly attack, and we can even try to use scripture against them You guessed it, gay people. Isn't that great? black people, white people, Latino people... we can all hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and exclude gay people from the body of Christ! AMEN!

I'm ill about it.

My oldest sister is gay. She is an ordained minister. She is leaving her church. She has to, before the congregation that loves the way she preaches the gospel, finds out about her love life. I have friends, some of whom read this blog, that no longer are active in their churches, because of the stances of their churches. I have a friend that is seeking ordination in the very same denomination that is struggling on this issue, and I am very proud of the courage that she has shown in the face of all of this furor.

People the world over have tried to cover their hatred of gays by quoting a few passages from the Bible while conveniently forgetting the most important parts of the Gospels: "For you are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." **Please note that this passage from the second chapter of Ephesians doesn't add the caveat "unless you are a homosexual"**

If nothing that I have said makes any sense to you, let me close with this: Excluding someone from your church or it's sacraments because of their sexual orientation is not only a sin, but it's un-American.

That's what I said, un-American. You see, we claim to cling to the notion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

You see, the pursuit of happiness, which includes matrimony, is an American right. A right. A right that the church shouldn't be able to ignore because of the bigotry of some adherents.

American slavery began to be abolished in 1863, and it took until 2000 for the last prohibitions against interracial marriage to end in this country. It may take a long time, but I say to those who are waiting... be of good cheer, history is on your side.



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

News and Comment

The Wheels have come completely off of the current band of thugs running this country (charitably known by some as the Bush Administration).

In Recent News:

First, all of the President's men swear up and down that they had nothing to do with exposing CIA officer Valerie Plame... then Lewis "Scooter" Libby is indicted and convicted for having lied to the FBI in it's investigation.

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Next, The Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, swears up and down that the Justice Department didn't base it's termination of a U.S. Attorneys on political grounds... then internal email shows that this is exactly what happened. This really shouldn't be surprising though... if you remember, Mr. Gonzales is the same guy that trashed the U.S. Constitution in this country with The so-called "Patriot" Act, and the same guy that gave Bush the green light to torture prisoners of war "Hey, if we call them "detainees", instead of POWs the Geneva Conventions don't count!" Many Republican lawmakers are now quietly calling for Gonzales to resign.

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Now, Lurita Doan, The Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) is accused of steering "no-bid" contracts to a local crony, and is being investigated for using GSA facilities, time, and employees to make campaign plans for Republican candidates.

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In war news, the administration is now coming under fire from within it's own party. Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, has actually used the word impeachment. Mr Hagel recently commented on ABC's "This Week", that "Any President who says... "I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else" or "I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed".... there are ways to deal with that"

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Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice (an accomplished Soviet Specialist... um... what Soviets?) continues to make a mess of our middle-east policies, particularly concerning the increasingly alarming situation in Egypt.

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Even Robert Novak, a more than slightly partisan editorialist, has declared that in his fifty years of experience, he has never seen a President so "alone" and isolated.

The 2008 elections are nearly two years away, The President's own party (except for those who REALLY like purple Kool-Aid) wants nothing to do with him.

What a mess.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gunfighter Dreams (III)

Well, I had another interesting dream last night... or should I say, this morning?

In today's episode, my dream begins on an elevator where the doors are opening... and in rushes a torrent of water.

The elevator fills with water and I am, along with the other occupants, pushed through the roof of the elevator... and out onto a residential street, which is also flooding. The water is deep and moving fast... unlike most flood water, this water is clean and clear.

I swim along with the current, and passed another swimmer, a woman, who is wearing a purple clergy shirt with collar. As I passed her, I said "hiya Pastor!" she replied: "That's REVEREND!"

I kept swimming.

Then I woke up... 15 minutes before the clock was supposed to go off.


Analysis, anyone?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You Know You're From DC, when...

Here are a few things about living in the Washington, DC area that make me laugh. People from other places may wonder about some of them, so, if you need clarification, just ask.

I especially love #27.

You Know You're From DC When...

1. You say you're from DC, but you actually live in Va or Md.

2. Ice on the roads just means that you pay more attention to other cars, but still go 75 mph on the highways (I don't do this, which is how I stay out of ditches).

3. You can tell when the roads change from DC to Maryland (they get better), and Maryland to Vriginia (they get better still).

4. You know where the Pentagon really is.

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5. You can see the National Cathedral from almost anywhere.

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6. You actually know at what times the streets change directions and which they direction they change to.

7. You know that Georgetown is NOT only a school

8. You know that Northern VA. is in no way similar to the rest of VA.

9. When you say you're going to the mall you don’t necessarily mean you're going shopping.

10. The Old Post Office doesn't sell stamps.

11. You can take the Metro to another state.

12. You know that we call it Targét, not Target... and are well aware that the one in Alexandria is just a "tad different".

13. You can live next door to a senator/vice president, ousted foreign leader, or any political figure and it is no big deal.

14. The term "inside the beltway" has more significance than national politics.

15. Washington National Airport is and will always be "WASHINGTON NATIONAL" not "Reagan National”

16. You claim that there’s nothing to do on a weekend night even when you have the entire Nation's Capitol to explore.

17. You actually know that Captiol Hill really is a hill.

18. You say "NOVA" to refer to the community college and not to Nothern Virginia itself.

19. You turn on the "local news" to hear about the latest national scandals/events.

20. A Virginian doesn't even have to look at a cars license plate to know that it is a Maryland driver.

21. It's not "the subway" it's The Metro.

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22. When you are driving at night, in PG County, and you see 5 police cars pulling someone over you know its just for a rountine stop.

23. You know what PG County means.

24. You've ever had to explain to someone that there's more to Arlington than a big cemetery.

25. You have a few friends who don't know, or can't tell you what their spouse does for a living...It's Top Secret government work... Just like yours.

26. You describe traffic moving 1 mile in 5 minutes as "not that bad"

27. You know what "motorcade gridlock" is, and have been late because of it.

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28. You're aware that National Airport is in Arlington, Virginia, not D.C.

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29. you know that Pentagon City is the name of a mall.

30. You know how to get to the "REAL" exorcist stairs!

31. When you know that Chevy Chase is a place, not an actor.

32. You know that if you hit one red light on Constitution Ave. you will hit every red light until you get to 66

33. You can parallel park like it’s your job.

34. You know you're from DC area when your life revolves around finding a parking space.

35. When you realize you utter the phrase "damn tourists" entirely too often.

36. You get an inch of snow and your kids miss 3 days of school.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Shoot 'em Up Friday (VIII)

Sorry about last week... I was a trifle busy.

Today's excercise is another discussion about bullet penetration, and the use of effective cover. On television and in the movie, we have seen cops and cowboys take cover behind all manner of things during gunfights. One of the things we see them take cover behind are wooden structures... outhouses, sheds, etc... Well, not to disillusion anyone, but wood is a bad thing to hide behind unless it is fairly thick.

Let's have a look that. We'll be using a half inch thick sheet of plywood as our target today. Our ammunition, picured below, will be the 5.56mm round, fired from an M-4 carbine, the 5.7x28mm round, fired from the P-90 submachine gun, and the .357 (Sig) round, fired from a SigSauer P-229 pistol.

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We will also be using a Remington 870, 12 gauge shotgun, through which we will shoot the target with a rifled slug and with a round of double-ought buckshot.

Here are what the bullet holes look like from the first three weapons/calibers:

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This is what the shot spread for one round of double-O buckshot looks like at seven yards.

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This is what the rifled slug did.

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As you can see, all of the various types of ammunition easily perforated the wood, and would have done the same for anyone trying to use said wood for protection.

The lesson here? Try to use something more substantive to protect yourself from incoming rounds.

Next Friday: Body Armor!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Snow Daze

Since winter appears to have finally left us, I thought I would post the pictures that Olivia and I took on the (hopefully) final snow day (March 8th) for this winter.

Having any accumulation of snow in March is very rare for this area, so it was with real excitement that Olivia received the news that school had been cancelled for the day.

There wasn't much snow, and I wanted to make sure that she had a chance to play in the snow before it all melted, which most of it had by noon, so away we went.

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As you can see, the grass is already peeking through the the snow, but there IS enough to make a snowball...

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...which was promptly thrown at Mrs. Gunfighter's car.

Although the snow wasn't very deep, there was enough for vigorous Snow Angel effort...

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...which paid of handsomely:

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Olivia decided to make more snow angels...

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...and proudly said: "Look, Daddy, it's our family! The big one is you."

Everybody say it with me: "Awwwwwwwwwwww!"

Monday, March 19, 2007

You Know You Are In The South...

...when the white people say: "y'all"

Movie Review: "Casino Royale"

Bond is back! and he is back in a big way! There is a new Bond in town, and his name is Daniel Craig!

I watched "Casino Royale" last week and enjoyed it immensely. Being a big James Bond fan since I was a kid, I have always felt that the best James Bond was Sean… er, Sir Sean Connery.

After being forced to endure the boring Roger Moore doing an only adequate job playing Bond, and then having to put up with the totally inadequate Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan over the last six films, I have to report that there is finally an actor worthy of Connery's Double-O mantle.

“Casino Royale”, like all of the Bond movies, was lavishly produced with high production values and beautiful locations. The script was well-done, I thought, as was the story, but the true story here, in my humble opinion, was Daniel Craig. Many people in Bond-dom were hoping that Craig would fail, and be poorly reviewed, but it was not to be. Craig, unlike his two post-Moore predecessors, played a more manly Bond. While Craig may not have been as smooth, urbane, and suave as some of his celluloid forebears, his was a strong character that upheld the tradition of Bond being sophisticated, but rebellious and tough at the same time.

I can’t help but think that Craig will be portraying James Bond for a long time to come… if he wants to.

The second Bond film starring Daniel Craig is scheduled to open in mid or late 2008. Craig is contracted for that one, and one more after that.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Who Are We?

Joy, at Gingajoy recently posted a series of questions aimed at her community of bloggers that I found quite interesting.

Joy's questions were directed at the so-called "mommyblogging community" to which I don't belong, even though I think I can claim associate membership since many of you that read my blog (and I read yours) ARE members of that community. By the way, if you are of a mind, go by her blog and give it a read.

Whether or not I belong to that community isn't all that important here, though. This is about this particular community in general and how it formed.

For me, this whole blogging lark was just a way to put my thoughts in a printed form... but like so many bloggers, I guess, once you start writing, you also start visiting the blogs of others. Comments left at blogs lead to others reading your blog. The next thing you know, things start to snowball and there you are.

These questions are about my blog and the people who read it... those that form this sort of random community.

Here are the questions, and my answers to them.

1. Who are we?

In the case of my blog, I'd have to say that we are a VERY eclectic loosely-knit group of people. We are ethnically and culturally diverse. We are from New York city, L.A., Lawrence, Kansas, Washington D.C. and it's suburbs, Washington state, rural Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Texas, and many, many other places.

We are Black, white, multi-ethnic, and probably lots of other things.

We are straight, we are gay, we are married, we are not, we have children, we are childless, we are college educated (some with advanced degrees), and some of us were lucky to make it out of high-school... hell, some of you may even have voted for George W. Bush (please don't tell me, if you did!)

I don't think I could possibly pigeonhole this group of people by trying to define it... so I won't. Definitions impose limits. I don't like limits.

2. Who am I writing to? Who is my audience?

I suppose this is THE most important question that a writer can and should ask of him/herself. In my case, I'm writing to any and everyone that will listen, particularly when I ask questions or make statements on politics, culture and/or race.

I suppose saying that I am writing to everyone is a bit self-indulgent... but it is true. I write for anyone who will listen/read. I reckon that a therapist would probably tell you that I am just some oddball, kilt-wearing, narcissist. Maybe I am. I just like to communicate with people. I'm chatty. I thrive at small talk.

3. Why are we writing? What is our purpose?

Probably because I want to be heard. Don't we all want to be heard? Isn't that the best thing about blogging? I'm not trying to change the world, here. This is my way to make a Seuss-ian "Yopp" (look it up, you parents of small kids should know from whence I speak).

4. What is the context for my writing? What am I saying? What is my message?

My main message is: I am Gunfighter, hear me roar... (oh, and I hate George Bush, passionately).

5. How does the medium of blogging affect all this?

Simply this: I get to socialize without consuming an unreasonable amount of my limited free time. I get to shout about GWB's disastrous policies to a wider audience. On a daily basis, I get to share myself with more people than I can in the corporeal world. I learn things from other like-minded souls. I can expand my solidarity with people who have similar social and political outlooks. I can fellowship and share the gospel with fellow believers and share my faith with others in a non-scary, non-pushy, non-intrusive way.

I asked Joy if she minded if I re-posted her questions here, and she graciously assented. She said that she was interested in seeing the answers. I have to say that I am every bit as interested in seeing YOUR answers.

So, if you feel like it, answer away... or not.



Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Dude, What's Up With The Kilt?"

Those of you that have been reading my blog for the last several months, you have been waiting patiently for me to tell you about why I wear kilts regularly and to post pictures to go along with.

Well, for you, today is your day.

As you might imagine, wearing a kilt in 21st century America, without benefit of being in a wedding or being an extra in a Mel Gibson movie...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket an unusual thing... but it is becoming less and less unusual these days. These days, there are no small number of modern kilt purveyors popping up all over, and there are many men to provide the demand for their wares.

For the most part, the success of the modern, casual kilt, the world over, can be credited to one man; A Mexican-American in Seattle Washington, named Steven Villegas was working on a motorcycle (one of his many projects) wearing a pair of shorts made from old, camouflage cargo trousers, but found them too restrictive to move the way he wanted to... so he took a scissors to them, applied some sewing, and the first Utilikilt was born.

I have been wearing Utilikilts since 2001, and the second most common question I get asked is: "Why are you wearing a kilt? You aren't from Scotland!" or words to that effect.

Well here are the answers:

1. Because I can.
2. Because I look great in it (I have great legs).
3. Because I'm not a complete conformist.
4. Because a kilt is almost as cool as a Superman suit.
5. Because my wife likes it.
6. Because friction is bad (figure that out for yourself).
7. For good reproductive health (although I am out of that business).
8. Chicks dig it (they do, trust me).
9. Because men envy me for doing what I want without regard for what others think.

Where does all of this come from? Oddly enough, the idea was planted as a result of reading a Science Fiction novel when I was a young Marine, in about 1986. The name of the novel was "Methuselah's Children", by Robert A. Heinlein. One of Heinlein's favorite characters through several novels is a fellow named Lazarus Long. No need to talk about the book, or this character other than to say that this guy could usually be found wearing a kilt, which I thought was very cool.

Fast forward nearly twenty years: Mrs Gunfighter, Olivia and I were attending the Virginia Scottish Games in Alexandria, Va. in 2001 (I think) and were having a great time watching the pipe bands, dancers, and sampling the various crafts and foods that were available. While we were browsing about, I remarked to Susan how much I would like to wear a kilt on a regular basis. Problem was, they are rather impractical. Not only are they made for a Scottish climate (made from heavy wool), they don't have pockets and are prohibitively expensive (a traditional kilt would cost me around $600).

Well, being that it was mid-June, here in Virginia, and hotter than hell, I took an opportunity to get some lemonade for us, while Susan waited in the shade. While I was standing in the line, I noticed a guy in the line at the next booth, wearing a kilt. Which wasn't uncommon, considering where we were, but the thing that made this guy so UNcommon, was that his kilt was black! and it had large cargo pockets!

When I got our lemonade, I noticed that logo over the back pocket (it had back pockets, too!) said "Utilikilts". I was determined, there and then, to find out more.

A few days later, I did a search (was there even a Google, then?) for Utilikilts and found their website, and the rest is history. I now own 5 Utilikilts, and plan on ordering a new one (this one in leather) some time soon.

If you are wondering about the reaction I get to wearing a kilt, I'll tell you this, and my wife will attest to it if you ask her: Women I have never seen before have followed me in the mall; have been brazen enough to ask if I was wearing any underwear; have come up to me and flat-out ask if I was married; have looked me in the face and said "I wish my husband was half the man you are"; have said to me: "OhmyGod! That is the sexiest thing I have ever seen!, can I borrow you for a while?" I must say, I find it hugely flattering. I get this kind of a reaction from women when I am rapidly approaching (well, OK, IN) middle age, getting fatter by the minute, and am only so-so good looking.

Men react in a range of ways. Some tell me how cool it looks. Some tell me they wish they had the nerve. Most are neutral, although many men ask this question: "Aren't you afraid someone will give you a hard time about it?" To which I answer: "Nobody has ever given me any grief about wearing a kilt... after all, who wants to have his ass kicked by a man wearing a skirt?"

So there you are.

Most often, when people think about kilts, they have this sort of image...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket their heads, but today, kilts can be found in lots of places, from athletic events...

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To hiking...

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To a rock and roll band at Disneyworld...

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To the war in Iraq.

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To selling a kilt to a woman so she can molest her man while he wears it

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At least, that's what she told me (that is me, on the left... oh God, it was so hot that day!)

Anyway, that's my story.

Oh, the MOST commonly asked question is: "What do you wear under your kilt?" My usual answer is: "My boots and my socks"

You can purchase modern kilts here:

21st Century Kilts
Freedom Kilts

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In The Blink of An Eye

The Time: 0615

The Place: Casa Gunfighter

Dramatis Personae: Gunfighter, and Olivia (Mrs Gunfighter is in Boston)

The Scene: A dark, just-post-daylight-savings-time morning, in Virginia.

My eyes snap open to see the clock, just as my mind registers the sound of the fire engines... I close them, thinking: "The old people are dying early this morning" (there is an assisted living facility 50 yards behind our house). There are more sirens and my eyes open again. This time, I get out of bed. I went to the window and looked out to see two firefighters traipsing though the garden in the back of the house. They had searchlights. I thought: "that's odd!"

That is when I smelled the smoke.

When I smelled the smoke, I had what I like to call an "oh s**t!" moment... and that's exactly what I thought. I paused just a moment, while standing there in my underwear, before grabbing Olivia and telling her to put on her sweat pants, to get Shelby (her favorite stuffed animal) her hat and coat and wait by the door.

There wasn't much smoke, but I wasn't taking any chances.

I pulled on my sweats, shoes, and jacket. Before getting out of the house, I grabbed Susan's laptop, camera, my jumpdrive with photos, my gun, and our box of important papers and we headed out.

This is what we saw:

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(The car in the foreground is mine.)

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I turned and noted that the smoke and flames were coming out of the house two doors up from us (we live in a townhouse). I did a quick nose-count of the bystanders nearby and accounted for all of the near-neighbors, and knew that all of them were OK... it was also immediately plain that the house in question was a goner.

Since our house wasn't immediately threatened, I went back in while Olivia waited with one of our neighbors and their daughter, and brought out of few more things, just in case (know what I mean?), and put them in the trunk of my squad car.

The firefighters did a fine job and the fire was out quickly (mad props to the O.W.L. VFD). As it turns out, it was an electrical fire, started by a dryer. The poor teen aged girl that had been using the dryer saw the flames right away... and promptly threw water on the flames.... and I am sure you know what happened then.

I was proud of the way most of our neighbors reacted... some of them, not so much.

The people that lived in the house were renters, and because they had to vacate so quickly, they didn't take their cel phones with them, so it was a few hours before they could get the homeowner on the telephone to tell her what had happened.

The girls, Olivia and neighbor girl Fionna, were sitting on another neighbor's front steps...

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...and were getting cold, so I asked one of the firefighters if there was any reason that we couldn't go back in the house. He said it would be alright if we did, so Olivia and Fionna got in her bed and watched cartoons while Adelle, Fionna's mom watched the doings outside, from my rocking chair.

The American Red Cross was really quick to respond, and Monique, her daughter and granddaughters all huddled at our kitchen table together while the Red Cross reps arranged for hotels and relief supplies, etc... I was feeling a little useless... so I made tea. Yeah, I know, not much of a gesture, but since it was about a fire and not about a firefight, I wasn't much good to anyone... the least I could do was to be hospitable.

The whole scene was wrapped up at around 0930, at which time, I showered and changed for work. I dropped Olivia at school (50 minutes late), and went to work.

Olivia did well, and although she was a little shaken up, she is OK. As for me... I'm not sure what I am feeling, but I think that the chief emotion is relief.

I was supposed to go to choir practice tonight... but I thought Olivia and I could stand some at-home-together-time, so we bagged it, and ordered a pizza.

I would ask all of you who are praying people, to do just that for my neighbors. They have suffered terribly today, and although they are physically whole, I am sure that the extra support,that prayer can bring, will work wonders.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Famous People From Your Hometown

Do any of you come from a place that is/was the home of someone famous?

I am.

The following famous people come from my suburban hometown in New Jersey:

Ray Liotta

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Robert Wuhl

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Both of these guys graduated from the same high school as me, albeit quite a few years earlier.

Colonel David G. Burnet, who was the interim President of the Republic of Texas in 1836 and 1841, also resided in my hometown in the 19th century. Colonel Burnet was the namesake of my junior high school, which is now a middle school.

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Artie Lange, who is a sidekick of Howard Stern on his radio show, is also from Union.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up Friday VII

I had to teach a class first thing this morning... so I didn't get to set up anything cool today, so instead, I took a few pictures of a speed drill that I did while my shooters were cleaning their pistols.

This drill is all about rapidly engaging multiple targets. Why? Because bad guys, like all vermin, travel in groups, thats why.

These red silhouettes have been stenciled on to a piece of cardboard, and are eight inches wide and 16 inches long. The silhouettes are this size to represent the parts of the body that are most likely, when perforated, to cause rapid cessation of the ability to fight or function.

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I shot them from approximately 5 yards out... the idea being to draw from the holster and engage each target with two shots in two seconds.

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All of my strings of fire were pretty decent, although I kinda threw one off to the left...

The last thing I did before calling it quits, is the usual claeaning and lubrication that no shooting evolution is complete without.

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Under Armour

Are any of you familiar with this company? They sell all sorts of sporting apparel for men, women, and children. In addition, they sell "Tactical" gear, including underwear, and they are quite popular with military and police personnel. Their claim to fame is making lightweight garments that help wick away sweat in order to keep you cool(er) in the summer, and warmer in the winter.

I'm all about good gear, but to tell you the truth, at this stage in my career, I leave it to the younger folks to do the sweltering and the freezing most of the time... the benefits of seniority, I guess.

Anyway, I still get all sorts of catalogues from companies that want us to buy whatever new "must have" item is out this month.

Well, Under Armour is no different, and I recently got their 2007 catalogue. I flipped through it figuring that is just more of the same stuff that I won't be buying, until I go to the women's apparel and saw this:

The Power Thong:

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This is the text that went with the photo:


"The Under Armour® performance thong, delivered in an athletic cut to prevent riding and chafing. Seamless construction and knit-in labeling ensure an unobtrusive garment that moves with you."

I'm guessing that the term "unobtrusive garment has something to do with visible panty lines.

OK... when the SWAT team is about to move in on a barricaded suspect, who may be armed...

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... does anybody give a crap about a visible panty line?

Tactical uniforms tend to be baggy because you may need to fight or run or do things that tighter clothing might be too restrictive for.

I am trying to think of a delicate way to ask one of the women that I work with if they would wear such a thing on an operation.

School Daze...

Readers in the DC area will know that we had a small visit from Jack Frost yesterday, who left us a dusting of snow.

A Dusting.

As in less than half an inch of the white stuff. As in not enough to bother to plow. As in not covering my sidewalk. As in not really enough to scrape the windows of my car... are you getting the picture here?

Well, the gurus of public education have, in their er... wisdom, decided to close schools today. Why? Well, they tell us that is is because of "road conditions", but I believe that the truth of it is that school is cancelled today simply because there are still seven "snow days" left in the schedule. Seven days that school can be cancelled without effecting the spring break schedule or causing any issues with the schedule curriculum.

Ah well... yours truly will be spending time today alternating time between watching the "Suite Life of Zach and Cody" & other Disney Channel favorites and re-reading many "Junie B. Jones" books.... and laundry.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The NAACP Image Awards Recap!

The NAACP Image Awards were on last Friday night (3/2).

I recorded the show and planned to watch it after dinner, but I had a long nap in my chair, so the show watched me, instead of the opposite.

I got to watch it on Saturday, and here is my recap of the show:

If you aren't familiar with the NAACP image awards, just know that the premise is to honor excellence in the entertainment industry by people-of-color. Clear?

LL Cool J was the host for the evening, and he got everything started by thanking the NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond for inviting him to host, since Bond had been looking for a "clean, articulate person to host the show.... and since Barack Obama was busy...", LL got the call to host in his place. Funny.

This year the show was broadcast live for the first time... and on FOX, no less!

While LL made his opening remarks, he made note of music mogul Russell Simmons "Hey Russell!, Nice suit". This was because Simmons, for some reason, decided to attend this formal event wearing a striped rugby shirt along with his signature "too-big for-the-size-of-his-head baseball cap" I have to ask what was going through your mind as you got dressed Russell? Look, we know that you are short, we know that you are nearly bald. Wearing that hat won't make anyone not notice these things. Besides, dude, when you are as wealthy as you are, no one would dare say rude things to you (to your face anyway). Can we say "insecure in public?"

LL continued his audience scan and immediately singled out Bill Cosby for some applause, followed by recognizing CNN anchor, Soledad O'Brien. He finished by acknowledging the work of the various nominees.

Randy Jackson and Smokey Robinson present the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: which was won by Jennifer Hudson. Hudson, as usual, looked great.

Megan Good and Columbus short (who both starred in "Stomp The Yard") presented the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role to Djimon Hounsou for "Blood Diamonds"

Commercial break... look! There is a new Chris Rock movie coming out called: "I think I love my wife"… it looks VERY funny.

OK, we're back! Bruce S. Gordon (President of the NAACP )& Kerry Washington are introduced to present the President's Award to Soledad O'Brien for her excellence in news coverage. Now I have to speak plainly here... until two weeks ago, I never knew that Soledad O'Brien was biracial. Did you all know that?

Anyway, India.Arie sang "I Am Not My Hair" before the presentation. I'm not sure what that had to do with an award for Soledad O'Brien, but no worries. Ms. Arie was did a forceful job with that song... which was all about identity.

Next, Lisa Rae McCoy-Bisset (that's a mouthful, isn't it?) and Dwayne Martin Present awards for Best Supporting Actor/Actress in a Series to: Omar Eppps (House), and Chanda Wilson (Gray's Anatomy).

The same presenters also gave the Best Actress in a Drama Series award to: Kimberly Elise (Close To Home).

NOTE: Jennifer Beals was a nominee in this category for her role in the L Word. I didn't know that she was black... or bi-racial, I guess. Did you?

Bernie Mac and Nia Long were next, and they presented the Best Actor in a Drama Series award to Isaiha Washington for Gray's anatomy.

Note: In solidarity with the brothers and sisters of the Gay & Lesbian community, I condemn this award based on Washington's poor behavior over the past months... good actor or not. Considering that these awards are for people of color that create a positive image, I don't understand how someone with clear homophobic attitudes can be considered as such. Calling someone faggot is the same as calling someone a nigger. I don't like it, and it should never be excused. I'm not asking anyone to love me or hate me for the opinion here, but there it is.

Raven Symone (The Cosby Show & That's So Raven) and KeKe Palmer (Akeelah and The Bee) inducted Bill Cosby into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. Well done, and well deserved. Bravo Cosby!

Bad tempered Uber-Model Naomi Campbell and Mo'nique (whats up with that spelling?) present the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series to Tracee Ellis-Ross, for "Girlfriends". Nice speech, but I have never heard of this show.

Vanessa Williams and Dennis Haysbert ("are you in good hands?"... sorry, I couldn't resist) presented the next few awards: Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series went to Reggie Hayes for "Girlfriends" and Vanessa Williams "Ugly Betty"

They also presented the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series award to Tyler James Williams for "Everybody Hates Chris"

Jessie L. Martin and S. Epatha Merkerson are next, presenting the awards for Best Drama to "Gray's Anatomy", and Best Comedy to "Ugly Betty"

The cameras pause to pan the crowd… everyone looks so nice… except for Russell Simmons.

Comment: LL You look good, dude, but lose the fedora, please.

Anika Noni Rose and Hill Harper the awards for Outstanding Album to "Dreamgirls", and Best Song to my new friend India.Arie for "I Am Not My Hair".
The award for Outstanding Male Artist went to His Purple Majesty: Prince.

Tracee Ellis Ross and Russel Simmons Presented the award for Outstanding Female Artist to Mary J. Blige I was rooting for Corrine Bailey Rae, but I am sure that Mary is worthy.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and Tyra Banks presented the The Chairman's award honor Bono for all of his work aimed at reducing hunger and poverty in Africa.

In his acceptance speech, Bono said: "True religion will not let us fall asleep in the comfort of our freedom. Love thy neighbor is not a piece of advice, it's a command!... and that means that in the global village, we're gonna have to start lovin' a lot more people. His truth is marching on!" (Holy smokes! Is Bono a Baptist preacher all of a sudden? You should have heard him preach!) "God is with the poor, and God is with US if WE are with THEM!" (Please follow the link and watch it yourself... the most important part comes at about 4 minutes in. I dare you to watch it and be indifferent).

Amen, Bono! Lay it down, brother!

Tyler Perry with some child actresses presented the award for Outstanding actress in a motion picture to young KeKe Palmer for "Akeelah and The Bee">

Louis Gossett Jr. & Sana Latham (From Nip/Tuck) presented the award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture to Forrest Whitaker, for his role as Idi Amin, in "The Last King of Scotland" Whitaker had only been speaking for about 10 seconds when the music started playing... I guess the schedule was really tight.

Kimberly Elise and Terrence Howard presented the evening's last award for Outstanding Motion Picture The winner was "The Pursuit of Happyness"

I enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would, mainly because in years past, the production seemed even more ponderous than the Oscars, if you can possibly dig that.

And there's an end.

Monday, March 5, 2007

I am Not My Hair (Part II)

I have had a bit of an epiphany in the past few days. It was a rather minor epiphany, if one can call an epiphany minor…

It happened as I was watching the NAACP Image awards, about which I will post soon. To cut right to the chase, it was when India.Arie was singing her hit song called "I am Not My Hair". It is a smokin' tune, it really is. I had never heard it before, but hearing it, and being able to repeat it at will courtesy of TiVo, brought up old memories… and sparked renewed thought on the age old subject in the black community… "Good" hair.

All of the black women who just read those words started nodding their heads upon seeing them.

"Good" hair

"Good" hair.

"Good" hair.

These words have always been able to send me on a tear. Their use upsets me as much as the use of racial epithets… as much as the use of epithets hurled at any group or community.

"Good” hair.

For generations, within the black community, the term "good" hair, means hair that is different from ours. More to the point, different from the texture of those of us who are, ancestrally, from sub-Saharan Africa.

"Good" hair means straight hair. “Good” hair meant hair like the hair of Europeans. “Good hair” meant… and still means “white” hair.

Now, you might think that having generational memories of intra-ethnic strife based on something as trivial as hair texture, is silly. Perhaps it is, but, I entreat you to look at it from a different perspective.

Historically, from the beginning of chattel slavery in America, A slave of the more pure African ethno-type was seen as something less than, or not as good as, a slave of mixed African and European ancestry. Eventually, as more slaves were brought to America, and more and more ethnically mixed slaves were born, a new social stratum was born. The dark skinned slaves were used as field labor… little better than draft animals that could talk, in most cases. The so-called mulatto slaves tended to be used in the homes of the owners as maids and household servants. One of those things that marked the partly white slave was, beside their skin color, their hair… particularly in women. You see, these women had lighter skin, usually ate better, often had more education (such as it was) and had more or better clothing, befitting their closeness to the master’s family.

Fast forward to the early 20th century. Slavery has been dead for a generation or so. Black Americans are beginning to get a bigger piece of the American pie. Black entrepreneurs like “Madam” C.J. Walker are even becoming quite wealthy. The industrial revolution is changing the country, making goods and services available to people of the most moderate or humble means. In the black community, this was indicated, in one instance, by the ability to straighten the naturally tightly curled hair of the African American. Men, in many cases used products as lye and heavy pomades to straighten their hair. Women were using “hot combs": and even flat irons to straighten their hair. Black people were spending inordinate amounts of time and money trying to turn their hair into “Good” hair. Good hair. Hair that was “less black”.

Fast forward again. This time it is the early 1970's and wee Gunfighter is almost ten years old. Ten years old, and nearly nauseated by the stench of singed and burned hair. A stench produced by the “straightening” comb that is heating in the open flame of the gas stove in our kitchen. You see, even though this was around the time of the burgeoning black consciousness movement that grew out of the civil-rights era, we were still conscious about out hair. Witness even the strongest black icons of the period… James Brown, and Ron O'Neal, the cat that played "Superfly”, had straightened their hair. Diana Ross & The Supremes, Tina Turner, Lola Falana, Dianne Carrol… all of these people, women in particular, were sayin’ it loud, “I’m black, and I’m proud!”... as long as I can look like I’ve got “good” hair, that is.

For generations, black women have damaged their hair with chemicals, hot irons, and dye, so that their hair would make them look less black. Women that could afford to go to more expensive beauty parlors could have this work done by others. People that couldn't did it at home and often destroyed their hair for years. Having "good" hair became something of a societal marker.

"Did y'all see so-and-so in church?, did you see her nappy-ass head?"

To appear publicly with nappy hair was nigh unforgivable.

When I was a kid, a good way for two girls to get in a knock-down drag-out fight, was to start some stuff about somebody’s “nappy” hair.

I could go on and on, and while some of you may be scratching your heads wondering if your friend Gunfighter hasn't been using some chemicals himself, trust me when I say that there are others nodding their heads in memory.

So, let us fast forward one last time... we'll call our destination: 2007. What now? What are the hair issues of today? To tell you truth, I'm not sure. The ability to get your hair straightened into the most gravity-defying hair sculpture is available to nearly everyone. So what does it mean?

I'll tell you what it means in the eyes of your humble correspondent. It means that however black women... hell, any women, choose to wear their hair. The hairstyle is not what defines them.

In her anthemic song, India.Arie hits the nail right on the head when she says:

"Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
Its time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off
Like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock
Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight
Like Oprah Winfrey
If its not what's on your head
Its what's underneath and say HEY....

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations no no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within"

Today, in 2007, black people wearing their hair straight doesn't make us less black, it doesn't make us smarter, it doesn't make us better. The converse is also true... having natural hair doesn't make us more black, more authentic, or ugly, or stupid. Hair isn't so much of a social statement as much as it is about the freedom to choose.

We are not our hair.

I Am Not My Hair (Part I)

Have you ever heard this very important song?

Do you know WHY this song is so important?

More later.


Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Awards

I have been honored by Dave G., from over at My Grimm Reality, with a Thinking Blogger Award.

Apparently, some of the things that I write make Dave think. Dave was kind enough to say a few nice things about me here. Thanks, Dave!

So... since you have probably concluded your polite applause, allow me to make the following remarks:

First, I'd like to thank everyone, everywhere for making my blog possible. As you all know, no one does anything on his/her own in this business, so I would be remiss if I didn't thank all of the cast and crew for making this little hobby of mine so very, very, special.

I would also like to thank Suzanne, for showing me how to code, so that my blog would be more appealing.

Most importantly, I would like to thank Mrs Gunfighter. Not because she had anything to do with my blog, but because she is so sweet (and hot, too!). Thanks for marrying be baby!, you're the best.

Lastly, I'd like to thank the United States Marine Corps, for unleashing the killer that was always lurking within.... oh, and (Turn off that damned music! I'm almost done!) I'd like to thank Sandra Scarpato, who was my Grammar, Usage, and Composition teacher in my Senior year at Union High School. Thank you, Mrs Scarpato... looking back through the years, I now appreciate all of the time we spent diagraming sentences.(ok, NOW you can play the music!)

Back to business. This award is also a meme of sorts. It falls upon me, as an award recipient, to name 5 other blogs that make ME think. For those of you I am about to name, Please refer to the following rules:

If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think, Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

Optional: Proudly display the "Thinking Blogger Award" with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Easy enough, right?

The Thinking Black Man
Pundit Mom
Janet Kincaid
Operation Yellow Elephant
Democratic Veteran

These are smart people. They aren't the only smart people whose blogs I read, but these stand out.

I like smart people.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up Friday!

Well... what do we have here? My old boss's building pass.

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Well, ok, I'll shoot it... especially since I can't (legally) shoot her.

Today, I'll be using this, a SigSauer, model P-229, .357 caliber pistol.

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I know, I know, shotguns are more fun, maybe, if you all behave, I'll shoot something with a shotgun next week.

This was shot at 25 yards.

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Will you think badly of me if I take a moment to gloat about the fact that she got fired?