i’m a kraut staplegun.

I am a: Heckler and Koch, Model P7 in 9mm
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That means I’m overpriced and heavy for my size, that my finish comes off when you just think about sticking me into a holster, and that you can fry eggs on the bottom of my frame before I’ve fired fifty rounds.

(Before I get deluged with hate mail from H&K Kool-Aid drinkers fans, it also means that I’m laser-beam accurate, and exceedingly well put together.)

(Via Squeaky.)



“Crusader of the Year” Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, ends up on the wrong end of a federal wiretap while setting up nookie sessions with a high-dollar hooker.

In 2004, while he was Attorney General, he investigated an escort service in NYC. That investigation resulted in 18 arrests for “promoting prostitution” and related charges.

Anyone–anyone–who uses the power of their public office to prosecute and incarcerate people for a crime that they themselves commit should face a firing squad–and I don’t mean the metaphorical kind. I mean the actual kind, with rifles and bullets, and a paper target pinned to the chest of the wayward public servant.

“Public servant”…what a grossly inappropriate term these days, seeing how 99% of them only serve themselves. (Unless you define “serving” as what Eliot the Incorruptible did with that hooker, in which case he’s been serving the public good and hard for a decade and a half now.)

the trouble with san francisco.

In the wildly inaccurate, but delightfully violent epic Braveheart, King Edward I (portrayed by an awesomely wicked Patrick McGoohan) opines that “the trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots.”

Personally, I have no issue at all with the Scots. I spent two weeks in Glasgow and Oban back in 1996, my hosts were among the most kind-hearted and funny people I’ve ever met, and the Highlands are the most beautiful place of scenery I have yet visited on this planet. Scotland rocks, plain and simple.

Therefore, I have no problem stealing Edward Longshanks’ line, but I have to adapt it to the subject of my own geographical analysis:

The trouble with San Francisco is that it’s full of hippies.

I’ve been to San Francisco twice, both times in the employment of a national travel center chain which shall remain unnamed. I was part of the team that went out to the newly built stores to set up their computer network.

The first time I visited the Bay Area was in 1999, and I had just finished a skillfully-mapped business trip to eight different stores, taking down serial numbers for a site survey, and updating their systems to Y2K compliance. (There was a boondoggle that could have made me rich…all I would have had to do for the duration of 1999 was to lock myself in clients’ server rooms for a few weeks, and then come out and present a $20,000 bill for Y2K consulting.) Anyway, I got to map the trip out myself, so I flew into Salt Lake City and made my way up through Utah, Idaho, and Washington before heading back down to Oregon. My last store was located in southern Oregon, and due to my amazing geek skills, I was finished three days early.

(I can neither confirm nor deny that I had sort of expected this circumstance, and that this expectation resulted in my request to the travel office to book my return flight from San Francisco.)

So there I was, with a swank rental car, three days of company-funded leisure, a generous daily meal budget, and a company AmEx at my disposal.

I can say without a doubt that northern California and the Bay Area are the most beautiful patch of America I have yet seen, and I’ve been around the country quite a bit. I decided to go down the Redwood Coast instead of zipping through to SanFran on I-5, and it was absolutely amazing, tempered in its awesomeness only by the fact that I was by myself, and couldn’t share my impressions with someone else. There’s a majestic grandeur to the coastline and those redwood forests that makes you intensely glad to be alive.

It took me the better part of a day to make my way down to San Francisco, because I enjoyed taking the coastal roads, slowly heading south with the Pacific Ocean to my right, and the redwood forests to my left, and it was the most relaxing and inspiring drive I’ve taken in my life.

Then I got to San Francisco.

There’s something special about cities that are surrounded by water on three sides. Maybe it’s the climate, or the ever-present faint smell of the sea, or the sense of openness you get when you walk down the street and see the ocean past the high-rise buildings, something liberating that can’t be suppressed even by the knowledge that you’re sharing a few square miles with a few million other people. If it can be said that you can fall for a city, I fell for San Francisco the moment I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time.

I rented a room at the Radisson Marina in Berkeley, right by the water, and spent the next two days just exploring the city. It was early fall, which seemed to be a good time to visit–fewer tourists, and still agreeably temperate. The job with that company wasn’t the greatest in the world–I was eating fast food and living out of suitcase a hundred and fifty days out of the year–but that one trip to San Francisco made up for all the crummy ten-day working exiles in desolate places like Dog Hump, Nevada.

When I got back home, I started browsing the online job boards for listings in the Bay Area. Then a good friend of mine moved to San Francisco to take a job with an Internet startup, and she was sending me not-so-subtle hints that it might be kind of fun if I were to relocate as well, with the added incentive of finally acting on some mutual attraction. For a few weeks, I was packing bags in my head, and I even went so far as to do a few phone interviews.

Then reality rudely intruded, the way it often does, and my reason wrestled my emotions back into their proper place.

For one, the housing market was (and still is) completely out of control. I’ve seriously shopped for apartments in and around Manhattan before, and I turned down a lucrative-sounding job offer because I would have had to spend more than half of my gargantuan paycheck on housing, just to live in a one-room studio smaller than my then-current living room. As expensive as Manhattan would have turned out to be, however, there was one market that looked even worse, and that was the Bay Area.

That’s not so much a question of public policy, no more or less than the housing prices in any desirable metropolitan area, but the next point of contention certainly was, and that one I can lay square before the aforementioned hippies who seem to run the place.

I had a sizeable collection of firearms, and California has a really onerous list of restrictions regarding gun ownership. I would have become an instant felon for half the content of my gun closet the moment that U-Haul crossed the California state line. I was accustomed to being able to put a gun on my belt while going about my daily business, and carry permits are simply not issued to anyone in the City By The Bay, unless your name is Feinstein, and you go by “Madam Senator.” That was a big roadblock to me, even bigger than the economic downside, and it was enough to outweigh every positive aspect. Add to that the out-of-control regulations and taxation in California, and I soon realized that no scenery in the world can make up for living as a forcibly disarmed tax slave among a bunch of folks who mostly have decidedly screwy ideas about the morality of self-defense, and the nature of property rights.

I still love the city, and the entire northern part of the state. Can we maybe start an exchange program with France, and trade them our Bay Area hippies for a few metric tons of decent cheese and a supertanker full of wine? The French don’t seem to mind subsidizing out-of-work foreigners with an overgrown sense of entitlement. Also, the average Frenchman takes a bath about as frequently as the average Berkeley hippie, so there’s some sort of cultural compatibility present already.

i don’t want your stickers.

I hate junk mail (who doesn’t?), but the kind that ticks me off the most for some reason is not even the generic kind (sales pamphlets and such addressed to “Resident”, or “Our friends at…”). It’s the kind that begs for money, for an Indian orphanage or starving kids in Upper Revolta, or some political lobbying organization, and they try to get you to write them a check by including a trinket in the mailer. You know the kind: there are the ever-popular address labels with your name pre-printed on them (cheap to make, I guess), or some hand-crafted beads and goose feather trinket from said Indian orphanage (which is supposed to guilt you into donating, because some poor doe-eyed orphan made that thing just for you, and what heartless bastard would just chuck the whole thing into the trash?)

This heartless bastard, that’s who.

If I find merchandise in my mailbox for which I did not ask or place an order, it goes right back to the sender, and if I open the envelope and find that they stuck some crap like the stuff described above into it, I toss it into the trash along with the correspondence. The “here’s a gift, now please send a check” kind of mailers just tick me off for no concrete reason I can define.

Maybe it’s the waste of producing an item I don’t want or need and then have to add to my garbage, or maybe it’s a reaction to the attempted emotional manipulation. Or maybe I’m just a cold-hearted and mean cynic…who knows?

spring forward, fall back.

Can anyone advance a good reason why we’re still clinging to Daylight Saving Time?

It messes up our dogs and kids, whose internal clocks are finely calibrated…which, in turn, has a tendency to mess up the adults of the household as well.  Bedtimes and waking times for the kids are off, nap schedules are shot to hell, and the dogs beg for their food a full hour early now.  (If you ever want to see a textbook canine expression of utter incomprehension, try to explain the empty bowl by pointing to the clock and saying, “It’s not your time yet!”)