New toy…

Picked up a new toy recently… a gas blowback airsoft Beretta M9A1 (pictured top). It compares very well up against a real Beretta Model 96 in .40 caliber in terms of realistic weight, size, and function. I was able to interchange the Hogue wrap-around grips from the Model 96 to the M9A1. It was a perfect fit. The only real difference in appearance between the two weapons, aside from the color, is the safety orange barrel tip and the accessory rail on the underside of the M9A1.

 

A side by side comparison of a Model 96 and a M9A1 magazine.

 

 

The single shot fire mode is pictured below. Pushing the mode select all the way down, renders the airsoft firearm safe. Interestingly, if you place the mode select partially between the single shot and the safety position, there is a discernible ‘click’, which in reality… is the full auto mode. 

 

The magazine has a stackable 26 round capacity, holding 6mm BBs. The BBs can range in weight from 12 grams up to 28 grams. The lighter weight BBs shoot much faster but lack the ‘punch’ a heavier round would deliver. The lighter rounds also tend to decelerate more quickly and swirl while in flight, making for less accurate shots. 

This M9A1 was manufactured by WE and uses ‘green gas’ as its power source. Green gas is nothing more than propane gas mixed with a little silicone lubricant and lightly scented to mask the propane odor. Green gas costs about $11 – $14 dollars per 8 oz can. Green gas powered airsoft weapons are expensive to operate, and not easy to use. They require recharging constantly. That’s especially true if you’re using the weapons on full auto.

I experimented using CO2 cartridges in place of the typical green gas with some success. The cost for CO2 cartridges is more affordable than green gas but they still require constant recharging. The only upside to using CO2 is that the cost is more affordable. The downside in using CO2 is that the pressure placed upon the air reservoir built within the magazine is not controllable. That can lead to the magazine rupturing its seals and damaging your weapon.

The solution? Use the same type of air cylinders that paintballers use. The one I purchased has a 3,000psi rating and can… utilizing a quick-disconnect fitting that replaces the normal green gas charging port… be attached to the magazine reservoir. The pressure is dialed down to approximately 150psi from the tank, through the regulator, so as to not rupture the magazine.

The rig below can be purchased from either your local paintball or airsoft store. The tank runs about $65 and the regulator gage assembly, with hose, is about $85. 

 

You’ll still need to build an air linkage from the quick-disconnect hose assembly to your weapon’s magazine or charging port. Mine is pictured below with the green gas port changed out to a quick-disconnect fitting…

 

One advantage you gain by converting the green gas system to an air tank system is that you can switch your weapons out from sidearms, to assault weapons, to sniper rifles, simply and more efficiently than relying on green gas based systems. You’re able to carry less equipment because you’re not having to haul around a lot of 8 oz green gas cans, or handfuls of CO2 cartridges. This frees up valuable space in your tactical pack for ammo, medical kits, etc. And in the long run, it’ll save you a ton of money.

 

Here’s my M9A1 in action using the paintball air tank… Full auto Beretta M9A1 airsoft pistol  

Plant warfare

Plants actively engage in the environments in which they live. They can communicate with other plants and animal neighbors. They respond to threats around them by changing their defensive chemistry, and alert plant neighbors to predation.

The wild desert tobacco plant, like all plants, have more genomes dedicated to environmental perception and response than animals. The plant has to adapt it’s physiology to what is going on around them. Being able to respond quickly is essential. As the tobacco plant is attacked by insects, it ramps up production of the chemical called nicotine. Nicotine is a natural pesticide against most insects, but has no effect upon the Hornworm caterpillar. In this case, the desert tobacco plant releases a chemical signal to other nearby plants. This signal warns of the ongoing attack upon itself and predators of the Hornworm caterpillar are summoned to fight off the attack.

So, how does the desert tobacco plant know what bug or insect is attacking it and what predators of the pest to call in? That answer is found in the saliva of the attacking pest. The tobacco plant can identify the pest thought the chemical compounds found in that pest’s saliva, thereby knowing what predators to call in to stem the pest’s attack. If a caterpillar eats the sticky sweetness from the plants trichomes (small hairs on plant stems), it will develop a smelly type odor, which in turn, will alert predators to the existence of the caterpillar.

The downside to the desert tobacco plant in ridding itself of the caterpillar, is that the caterpillar… once transformed into the nocturnal Hawk moth, is also its best pollinator. How does the desert tobacco plant solve this problem? It simply switches out pollinators. It does this by changing the shape of its flower, which typically opened at night, from an open shape to one that is more in the shape of a funnel. The funnel shaped flower would open in the dawn hours and produce a sweeter nectar, thus attracting hummingbirds instead of Hawk moths. This switch in pollinators can be accomplished in less than eight days.

The desert tobacco plant under attack from caterpillars, will emit a chemical odor to alert its nearby neighbors. The other desert tobacco plants in the immediate area would then ramp up their defenses. We see this behavior with other plant life too. Take, for instance, the acacia tree in Africa.

The acacia will emit ethylene to signal their neighbors to herbivore predation. The nearby acacia trees then ramp up production of tannin levels that can be lethal to herbivores feeding upon them. Interestingly enough, giraffes get around the toxicity of the acacia leaves by only eating a few leaves from the trees and then moving upwind to other acacia trees not receiving the ethylene signals from the previously foraged trees.

 

 

Monkeys shines!

It’s remarkable to think of all the funny happenings and stories that have punctuated many of the moments of my life. Comprised herein are some of those humorous moments.

I was born six months to the day before the climax of the United States space race in 1969… culminating with man walking on the moon. So the late seventies and all of the eighties were the years that defined my childhood.  My childhood was marked by constant change. From the loss of a parent, resulting in an unstable home life and constantly moving from place to place… state to state… country to country. From preschool to high school, the numbers of different schools I’ve attended number nine. Think about that for a moment… nine different schools… It seemed like every other year we were moving to a new place, making new friends, and figuring out just how to fit into our new environment. The questions were always there… ‘How long would we live here?’ and ‘Will I make new friends just to lose them in another year or so?’ With all the constant changes, I was fortunate enough to spend all four years of high school in the same school. Of course, I went to a different high school than my brother and sister. That was the result of yet another move in the same town but to a different school district. My brother and sister finished at one high school since they had already started there and we moved just before I entered high school so I went to the high school in our new district. All of my friends from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades went to the high school my siblings attended. Again, I had to start all over… new school… new friends… new everything.

I’ve been exposed to many things over the years, different cultures, peoples, etc. Those experiences, both positive and negative, have helped shaped the person I am today. I think the difference between it either being a blessing or a curse, lies in how you choose to embrace the chaos that is life.

We’ll start our walk through the past in the year 1982. That summer was hot and humid, as is typical in the Deep South… our own little slice of hell in a place known as Huntsville, Alabama. I was 12 years old and lived half a block away from a K-6 elementary school. The school grounds were a popular hangout for the neighborhood kids. There were bike trails in a far corner of the school grounds and a large pine wooded area at the front of the school. There were wide open areas between the back of the school and the dirt bike trails in the rear.

During the summer months, the city had in place a public health program to keep down mosquitoes. They sent out sprayer trucks that would spray entire neighborhoods as the truck drove down the streets at least once a week. People got into the habit of closing their doors, windows, etc. when they heard the truck coming down their streets. Others would try to outrun the trucks and escape the area before becoming sprayed. On one such occasion, a group of us kids were riding our bicycles in the wooded area previously described at the school when we heard the bug spray truck turn into the neighborhood. Someone had the bright idea of throwing green pine cones at the truck as it passed in front of the woods on the surface street. So we hurriedly gathered as many pine cones as we could find as the truck slowly made its way towards us. As it came within range, we pelted the truck with as many pine cones as we could unleash. The truck screeched to a halt before accelerating forward and turning into the school grounds. A little gravel road hugged the edge of the woods and wrapped around the upper area where we had planned to escape. The race was on! We hopped on our bicycles and took off towards the top of the woods as the truck sped along the gravels. As we exited the woods, the man driving the truck was jumping out of his vehicle. He was really close to us. All he had to do was to catch one of us and the rest would’ve been busted. My friend Billy was the easy target. I vividly remember Billy standing up with his back arched and pedaling his bicycle as fast as he could and the man making a grab for his seat bar. The man missed and bit the dust. I don’t quite remember what all the angry man said but he had quite a few ‘sons of bitches’ and ‘little mother fuckers’ in his screams. We didn’t throw at the bug spray trucks any longer after that.

We moved from that neighborhood shortly thereafter and relocated to the northeastern part of town. I entered the ninth grade at Lee High School. Our new neighborhood had a lot of other teens around my age. Two of my closest friends were my next door neighbors, Tony and Tim. Tony was several years older than me and his brother was a year younger. Since Tim and I were closer in age, we tended to hang out more often. Behind our homes was a creek that ran parallel to a strip of woods that was divided by an abandoned railroad bed.  Beyond that was a large field that led to a major roadway known as North Memorial Parkway. This would become the scene of many, many adventures over the next several years.

One cold winter day, during our two week Christmas break, Tim and I had taken our air rifles into the woods to target shoot. We wore several layers of clothing to help protect us from the biting winter wind and wore double socks to shield our feet from the cold wet snow. We had taken provisions with us into the woods to make a temporary camp site and warm our food. Over the course of the next few hours, we had traversed all through the woods and worked up an appetite. We made our way to the abandoned railroad bed. All that was left of the former railroad was the raised gravel bed the rails used to sit upon when anchored to the rail ties. Most of the rail ties were taken, along with the steel rails, but some of the unusable wooden ties were left behind off to the side of the bed. Tim and I dragged a few of the ties back onto the bed and formed a makeshift fire pit. We then filled the fire pit with dry pine straw and sticks we found underneath the snow covered trees. Our ‘roughing it’ skills of lighting the fire with flint and steel gave way to the trusty lighter. Soon we had a nice fire to warm our faces and hands. Digging into our provisions, I pulled out a few cans of Beanie Weenies and handed one to Tim. Out came my P-38 can opener and I punched a few holes in the top of my can to release the pressure the can would generate when placed at the edge of the campfire. We both placed our cans of Beanie Weenies at the outer edge of the fire and were discussing our day. A number of minutes had passed when suddenly, a huge explosion went off. My ears, face, and hands were all burning. Looking down, I saw that Tim and I were both covered in steaming Beanie Weenies. Turns out, Tim had failed to punch holes into the top of his can of Beanie Weenies. Talk about a freakin’ mess. I learned a valuable lesson that day… never assume someone has any common sense.

Both Tony and Tim lived with their grandparents. With such a difference between their respective generations, it tended to produce conflicts. The grandparents were of the World War II generation. The grandfather had served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during the war. After the war, the grandfather went into the painting business. As was common for the time, it turned into a family business. Both Tony and Tim followed in the footsteps of their father and grandfather. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them and for their grandfather during the summer months of my teenage years. It afforded me the ability to earn more money than a conventional job and I could work far more hours than the law provided since I was paid ‘under the table’.

There are so many funny things that occurred on the job when I was painting. Seems like there was never a dull moment when working with Tim or Tony. Tony had a habit of doing his ‘business’ on the job site. If we were working on a new construction site, before the plumbing was installed, Tony would grab a plastic bag and a 5 gallon bucket and head for a closet… thus creating his own personal toilet. In occupied homes, Tony would use the homeowner’s bathroom and stink up the room. Once, when he was finished doing his ‘business’, he went looking for Tim. He told Tim about the amazing porn collection that was stashed in the bathroom. Tim being Tim, dropped what he was doing and took off for the stinky bathroom. Upon entering, his dear brother Tony pulled the door shut and secured it so that Tim couldn’t leave. Needless to say, the porn collection never existed, and Tim certainly wasn’t amused!

Another ‘poop’ story… and there are many! We were working a new construction home just north of Huntsville on Bob Wade Lane. The owner was a lay minister and an insurance broker. The home was massive!  The living room was two floors tall with tongue-in-groove poplar ceilings and recessed can lights. Poplar is a hardwood that is very knotty. When poplar is made into planks, the colors will vary greatly over its length. Part of the process of installing poplar ceilings requires using a pneumatic nail gun to nail the wood to the ceiling. The holes produced by the nails then have to be filled in with special wood putty. The putty resembles clay and can be mixed with special pigments to match the color of the wood it has to blend with. On this particular day, we ran out of putty. Tim and I went searching for putty in different parts of the house while Tony went out to the work van to see what he could find. Tim and I came up empty. Minutes later, Tony comes back into the house holding a rag. As he approaches us he says ‘I think I found some extra putty!’ and extends his hand holding the open rag with the putty clearly viewable. Instantly, Tim starts to grab the putty but stops short when he realizes the putty is actually shit Tony had put in the rag. Yep, Tony didn’t find any putty but had plenty of time to take a crap in the van.

On the same job site, and in the very same living room, one day Tony was messing with Tim again. Tony had climbed the scaffolding erected in the living room to install the poplar ceiling, and climbed up to the upper level window and thereby made his way to the outside roof. Tony began calling Tim’s name down the chimney. Tim kept walking around downstairs yelling ‘Where are you?’ After coming in and out of the living room several times, he figured out that Tony’s voice was emanating from the fireplace. The prank was over and Tony came back inside. Later on that day, Tim… being an original thinker… decided to play the same prank on Tony, but with a twist. He made his way up the scaffolding and then the roof. ‘Tony! Tony!’, Tim called out. Tony came into the room and immediately knew Tim was on the roof. It happened that the home owner, his wife, and his sister-in-law entered the room just behind Tony. Nobody knew they had driven up and we weren’t expecting to see them that day. ‘Tony!, Tony!’, Tim yelled again. The home owner went over to the fireplace, bent down, and stuck in his head to look up the chimney. No sooner had he done so, ‘splat’, something hit the stonework beside his head. Tim’s twist on Tony’s prank was to crap down the chimney. It goes without saying that was Tim’s last day on the job site.

I worked with Tim, Tony, and their family for several years in the painting trade. Once I married in 1990, I wanted something more permanent and year round employment. I worked for a few years for a large local computer corporation before landing a job at an ambulance manufacturing company in the Madison, Alabama area. The company employed around 200 people at the time. Of the 200 employees, most were members of one of three families. How that happened, I don’t really know. Regardless, that’s the way it was. I worked second shift and one my team members included a supervisor (Ray), his son David, and his son-in-law Mark. I don’t know what was wrong with Mark. Maybe generational inbreeding finally caught up to him or he was dropped a lot as a child… anyway, Mark wasn’t very bright. He was always full of stupid questions and comments. After one such comment, I turned to him and asked, ‘Mark, did you graduate from high school?’ Everything seemed to pause. His father-in-law, brother-in-law, and others close by stopped what they were doing and waited for Mark’s reply. ‘Yep.’ Mark answered. Then I followed up with, ‘If you don’t mind me asking, what was your GPA?’ To my complete surprise, Mark responded ‘I didn’t get one of them, I got a GED!’ David turned and walked away and Ray, his father-in-law started cussing under his breath but I vaguely made out ‘I’ve got grandkids from that dumb son of a bitch!’

A few years passed and I found myself enrolled in a machine tool technology class, working my way through school training to become a machinist. After just one quarter of school, Parker-Hannifin raided me from the machinist course. I still went to trade school for the next two and a half years but was also learning on the job as well. I was employed by Parker-Hannifin as a screw machine machinist. The people of north Alabama are good and true but they are also a riot to be around. At break time one day, I shared an outside picnic table with two middle aged women, Linda and Kathy. Linda was commenting on the weather, ‘It sure is airshy out here and the sun makes me wanna squench my eyes!’ I whipped around my head towards her and asked, ‘Do you mean airy , as in breezy? And do you mean squint, as in to partially close your eyes?’ Her stare was cold and her face nearly turned into a scowl. ‘You know what I meant! You ain’t from around here are you?’ she asked. ‘Actually, Linda, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised all over the place, but spent the better part of my time right here in Huntsville!’ I replied. ‘Then how come you don’t sound like us?’ she asked in her heavy southern drawl. “Because you guys sound like a bunch of fuckin’ idiots, that’s why!’ I retorted.

I ran into an old friend, Bobbie in 1998. I hadn’t seen her for several years. I asked her how she was doing and how were her sisters.  She said that she was well and one of her sisters was in the hospital.

‘Is she ok?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, she’s just gonna have her dick cut off.’ Bobbie said.

‘What???’ I was taken aback.

‘Yeah, no shit dude, she’s got a dick.’ stated Bobbie.

‘But she’s married and has a kid!’ I said.

‘Yep!’ said Bobbie.

‘I thought hermaphrodites were sterile?’ I shot back.

‘Nope, there are several types of hermaphrodites. Some have testicles…’ she started to say.

‘Hey! I don’t really want to know!’ I cried.

‘Dude, you asked!’ she giggled.

‘Well, it does make you wonder… In the morning when she pees, does she sit or stand? And, when she gave birth, did the doctors have to duct tape her dick out of the way? The bigger question is, does that make her husband gay or at the very least, bisexual???’ I asked.

Many more comments were made but those were the most tasteful, so to speak. A few weeks later I met up with Bobbie once again and inquired about her sister. ‘Oh, she’s staying with mom so she’ll be closer to her doctor appointments.’ Bobbie told me. ‘But Dude, check this out!’ she continued. ‘The other day, she came downstairs when my mom had her friends over for tea. She walked right up to a lady sitting on the couch, reached down and lifted up her skirt, with no panties on, and asked ‘Does this look natural?’.’

‘No way!’ I laughed. ‘That takes balls!’

‘Um, not anymore!’ Bobbie snickered.

I divorced my first wife in November of 1998 after eight years of marriage. After finalizing all of my property matters, I picked up and moved to San Diego. I had no children, no responsibilities, and the chance to start my life over again. I was thirty years old and free to do as I pleased. It was a toss-up as to where I wanted to move. It came down to two locations, Montana or San Diego. I longed for the tranquility and wide open spaces Montana offered. I wanted to drop out of the rat race and reconnect with nature. I’ve always found peace when I was alone with my thoughts, no distractions, and in the midst of the great outdoors. The practical side of me said to go where I had ties. Both my brother and sister were in living in southern California. My sister lived in San Diego and my brother lived 30 minutes north of her in Oceanside. The obvious and practical choice was San Diego so that’s where I went. Still, every so often, I think how differently my life might’ve been had I gone to Montana.

I stayed a few months with my sister and her husband until I could get on my feet and find a place to live in San Diego. My sister’s husband, Derrick, likes practical jokes. I’m a machinist as I’ve previously stated. We use a lot of oil based coolants when machining. It is because my sense of smell was thusly compromised, that I did not notice Derrick had played a joke on me. As it turns out, Derrick had gotten ahold of an old pair of my sister’s pantyhose, went outside, and filled it with dog poop. He then hung it underneath the bed I slept on with a paper plate under the poop. The plate was there to catch the excess water from the spray bottle Derrick was using daily to keep it nice and ‘fresh’. One day Derrick finally came in and asked me if I smelled anything. I replied in the negative. He then pointed out what he had done and couldn’t believe I never smelled it. Nope, never did.

There were many great times over and my sister’s and Derrick’s home. She lives in a home that backs up to a canyon that’s a dedicated green space. Hot air balloons would dip down into the canyons behind their home and ride until they approached the far canyon wall. They would then charge the balloon to gain altitude and climb over the canyon wall. One late summer afternoon, another hot air balloon dropped into the canyon. My brother, his girlfriend Kelly, my sister, Derrick, and I were all hanging out in the backyard. My sister, Lillian, was using a video camera, recording as we horsed around. As the balloon reached the end of the canyon, they attempted to climb over the canyon wall. We could hear the people, which numbered about 8, talking very clearly. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t gain altitude. The gondola containing the passengers started to drag along the ascending canyon wall. My brother, Tony, being the outspoken one in the family… decided to offer some helpful advice. ‘Throw the fat one out!’ he shouted. He must’ve shouted it half a dozen times or more. Mind you, we could hear the passengers speaking clearly before they ran into difficulties, it was safe to assume they could hear my ass of a brother the first time he yelled ‘Throw the fat one out!’ In any case, the hot air balloon operator gave up and landed as best he could. Chase vehicles arrived shortly thereafter and picked up the passengers and retrieved the balloon.

When I first moved to San Diego in 1999, my brother Tony was dating a sweet girl name Kelly. Tony was a helicopter Crew Chief in the Marine Corps and Kelly was a Psych Tech with the Navy. They had been dating a while but never set a firm date when they would marry. We were all gathered at my sister’s home one Christmas Day when the topic of marriage was broached. My brother, in true Tony fashion, started to rationalize why they weren’t setting a date. He said that he didn’t have a wedding ring yet suitable for the occasion. Off Lillian darts upstairs. A few moments later, she comes back down and hands Tony a ring. ‘Will this work?’ she asked. Then Tony says he doesn’t have a band either. This time Derrick takes off. In a bit, Derrick comes back with a band. Tony is getting painted into a corner quickly. ‘After the holidays…’ he starts to say, when someone mentions Las Vegas. We looked it up and find that yes, you can get married on Christmas Day in Vegas. So the five of us pile into my sister’s GS400 Lexus around 6 pm on Christmas Day and head out to Vegas. The wedding was on!

We get to Vegas around midnight, arriving at a wedding chapel. They send us to the county courthouse for a marriage license. So, sometime after midnight on the morning of the 26th, we’re finishing the required paperwork for a license at the courthouse. We then made our way back to the wedding chapel. Ceremony was performed shortly thereafter and by 6 a.m., we were sitting at a Vegas hotel buffet having breakfast. Twelve hours… a lot can happen in twelve hours. Yes, Sin City at it’s finest.

Kelly decided that she wanted to undergo elective surgery for a slight under-bite. Being military, she could have the procedure performed at the Navy hospital. In addition to having the under-bite corrected, Kelly also wanted to have a fuller lips. She was wanting to tell me all about her upcoming surgery. ‘Kelly, are you sure you want me to know?’ I asked. But she persisted. She explained how they were going to cut two ‘S’ shape fragments from both sides of her lower jaw and slide it backwards to correct the bite. While they were at it, they were going to insert a sphincter from a cadaver, underneath her lips to fill them out. Apparently, somebody’s dead asshole has similar characteristics to human lips. Who knew? Kelly soon regretted telling me these beautiful nuggets of information. The humorous observations began! What if the sphincter came from some gay guy’s asshole? Would you still be able to whistle? Or, would it look like a basset hound blowing out a cake full of candles? And questions like, ‘Doctor, why does everything taste like shit?’, ‘What’s the difference between oral and anal sex, Tony? NOTHING!’, and so on…

Some time later, Tony, Kelly, and I were going to Lillian’s home to hang out. Entering the bottom of the neighborhood, Tony saw two very overweight German Shepherd dogs walking around a front yard. Remember, Lillian’s home backed up to a canyon. Seeing wild animals in the area wasn’t uncommon. Anyways, Tony points out the dogs and says to Kelly, ‘Kelly, look at those coyotes!’ Kelly’s eyes grew large and exclaimed. ‘Those mother-fuckers are HUGE!’ I laughed and said, ‘Kelly, I think they escaped a research facility.’ ‘How do you know that?’ she asked. ‘Well, you see those fucking collars they’re wearing…?’

Kelly was a lot of fun to be around. She wore her heart on her sleeve. One day she came by my sister’s home and we were hanging out again. She started to tell us about her day at work in the psych ward. She opened by saying, ‘I was talking to a friend at work today…’ when I interrupted with, ‘Hold on, are we talking about a patient or a co-worker?’ and then Lillian asked, ‘Yeah, can we see them too?’ Kelly was not amused.

I worked for a couple of years in Scripps Ranch at a machine shop. After work, some of my coworkers and I would go out bar hopping. On one occasion, two of my coworkers and I went to visit the PB Bar and Grill downtown. We parked a few blocks away from the bar as there were no parking spaces available closer. Floyd, Mike, and I were walking along, making our way towards the bar when we noticed that Mike started to lag behind. We stopped and I asked Mike, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ Mike walked up to us, turned and pointed out a homeless lady a short distance away. ‘Yeah, so?’ I asked. Mike continued, ‘I’ll bet she’ll do anything for a cheeseburger!’ Sick bastard… we grabbed him and kept walking towards the bar.

Floyd is a fun guy too. He comes with his own set of issues. He’s Pakistani by birth. When I first met him he introduced himself. I asked if ‘Floyd’ was his given name or a nickname. He assured me that yes, ‘Floyd’ was indeed his birth name. Ok, the guy is dark, he’s Pakistani, and his name is Floyd. Just how the hell did that happen? As it turns out, Floyd’s grandfather was from the UK. He met and married Floyd’s grandmother when India and Pakistan were still one country under English colonial rule. From that point on, the family was raised Christian in a majority Muslim country. No need to point out the many serious problems that created for the family. Eventually the family immigrated to the United States.

Floyd use to make a Tijuana run with another coworker named Richard. They frequented a rat hole in TJ whose name translated into ‘The hairy cave’. There, they would pick up prostitutes for the evening. One Monday Floyd came to work with a strange look on his face. I asked if he was ok. Floyd informed me he thought he had fallen in love. ‘With a hooker?!’ I exclaimed. His story went something like this… after having sex, the prostitute got up and went to the bathroom. She left the door open and Floyd could see her cleaning herself out while straddling the sink. It was then he said that he fell in love. Really, Floyd? Really??? That’s seriously fucked up, dude.

 

How Some Fellow Mensans View Mentioning IQ…

Obviously I’m not alone in my ongoing dilemma as to when, if at all, to mention my membership in Mensa. It always felt a bit awkward, and maybe I dreaded the possibility, that someone would think me pretentious or an arrogant ass for even mentioning the fact. When is it OK to let it be known? Should you even put it on your resume? If so, does that put you in ‘bad light’ in the eyes of a potential employer? If you don’t reference it on your resume, could you possibly be sabotaging your chances of securing a job that requires logical reasoning and high intelligence? Just where do you draw the line? And, if you were to put it on your resume, or bring it up during the interview process, just how would you do so?

Try looking at it from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re applying for a job that receives numerous applicants for the same type of job. Your degree is probably no different from dozens of others being considered. What sets your resume apart from all the others? The fact that you may have a Masters instead of Bachelors? Or, a Doctorate instead of a Masters? What about if your degree is from a prestigious university and not a local community or state college?  As an applicant, wouldn’t you want to stress where you were educated and the level of your education? And maybe, if you are just entering the job market, you’d want to point out your GPA or making the Dean’s List? Aren’t these the things a potential employer would want to know? I mean, if I’m looking to hire the best qualified applicants for a position, wouldn’t I then want the most ‘bang’ for my buck, so to speak? The answer should be obvious, right?

Why is it considered ‘bad form’ to mention your IQ? Are professional athletes ridiculed for being good at what they do? When was the last time someone said “Hey, you don’t have to excel at so-and-so! Show-off!” to an MLB, NFL, NBA player or other professional athlete? Athletes are highly regarded in their particular sport… so why aren’t highly intelligent people viewed in a similar light?

Below are a few comments gleaned from a recent discussion among fellow Mensans on a private FaceBook thread. Even among ourselves, we struggle with answering this question. The question asked was “Is a Mensa membership something to be proud of?”

Response #1: The profoundly stupid can do things we can not do… This guy I work with amazes me with his stupidity every day… But he should be ashamed in the same way I am proud … But he is way too stupid to realize he is stupid.

Response #2: It’s something I’m proud about – not to an obscene level, but I am proud of my brains just as much as I am proud of my good singing voice. It’s no better or worse than other people are proud of their good looks or ability to play sports well (neither of which I can claim).

Response #3: We have a right to be proud of whatever it is we are good at doing – be it something physical, mental, whatever. There is nothing wrong with that.

Response #4: It just sucks because saying you’re proud of doing a sport is cool but once you bring up intelligence you’re immediately seen has being condescending

Response #5: Perhaps – but that’s their problem. Someone feeling that I am condescending by mentioning I am proud and happy to be a Mensan makes me sad. I don’t feel it’s condescending when someone tells me they are a great dancer just because I have two left feet and dance like a drunken hippo.

Response #6: The question was – is Mensa Membership something to be proud about. And I think someone can be as proud of their innate intelligence as someone can be about any other innate ability. Sure – not every Mensa member lives up to their complete potential. I know I don’t. But I think that being smart enough to qualify is something that I can be proud about.

Response #7: I disagree that qualifying for Mensa is innate. If Usain Bolt never left his couch and ate Big Macs nine times a day, his potential would be the same but his actual time in the 100 meters would be sometime next Tuesday. Standardized tests show a significant training effect and a love of reading and learning is a common trait among our cohort. So, yes, most of us worked to get this smart, and could be proud of it. However, it is often more politic not to be too loud about our memberships because no one likes a smarty pants.

Response #8: I remember that my best test was my GREs, where I scored 2200+. I showed my scores to all my profs, and the first words out of my chemistry professor was, “I didn’t think you were that smart.”

Response #9 (my personal favorite): People will judge you negatively for being intelligent.

Mostly, I think, because they feel threatened.

Because intelligence is not immediately obvious–the way other characteristics can be.

Virtually no one will feel bad about not being a professional athlete. So they can laud that ability in others without feeling personally inferior.

No one, in my experience, thinks they aren’t smart. Until the person they least expect turns out to be demonstrably more intelligent than they are. They don’t expect it, and thus feel threatened. So, to mitigate that feeling, they react negatively.

You should be proud of your intelligence. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves because they’re a few standard deviations above normal.

______________________________________________________________

So, let me ask a question. Should it be considered bad form to mention your membership in an high IQ society?

If you’re currently employed and happy in your job, how do you think your boss would react to finding out you were a Mensan? Do you think that could be a roadblock to your advancing within the company? Would your boss and fellow co-workers likely feel threatened?

Our universe is amazing!

Everyday things we tend to take for granted… the warmth of the sun, our own moon, and even the jewelry we wear. All of these things are the result of physics that started billions of years ago and is continuing on today. From the Big Bang to the collapse of stars… our universe is constantly changing and creating new stars, solar systems, and worlds.

Galaxy-background

From the death of stars, the potential for life is born. Stars are in a constant tug-of-war battle. The exploding fusion reaction of a star is in a delicate balancing act against the immense gravity crushing down on the star’s core. Eventually, gravity wins out in this epic struggle. The death of a star occurs when gravity keeps compressing and creating heavier and heavier elements within its core. Once a star creates the element iron at it’s core, the death of the star has begun. Iron stops the fusion reaction occurring within the star. In a matter of  seconds, the star goes super-nova, gravity finally overtakes the fusion reaction and the star collapses. This collapse happens so suddenly, the inner core literally turns inside out, changing places with the outer perimeter of the star. As the star explodes, spewing matter hundreds of millions of miles into space, heavier elements are created… among these are silver, gold, and platinum. The light emitted from the super-nova briefly outshines an entire galaxy. This burst of radiation can send exploding material at a velocity about one-tenth the speed of light. The mass that’s left after the collapse of a super-nova is called a neutron star. They are the smallest and densest stars known in the universe.

So, as you go about your daily routines… take a moment to reflect upon all that is around you. The sun, waging a constant war against gravity… will one day die. Life on Earth, made possible with water molecules emitted from stars and carried to Earth via comets… our moon, the result of a long ago collision of Theia with Earth… gave us tides which helps in the cycles of life on our planet. Life, our world, and the jewelry we wear… all came about from the death of stars.

Always thinking…

It seems, even if my outward life is quite stable and consistent, my thoughts are always evolving. They’re constantly in flux. Why I believe the things I do and how I view my world are reevaluated on a regular basis. Recently, that reevaluation has preoccupied a good portion of my ‘quiet hours’… time that I take for myself after the responsibilities of the day are done.

I’ve always been amazed about the physical world around me. Learning leads to questions, and the subsequent answers, to ever more questions. It’s a vicious cycle. The complexities of our world and the makeup of our universe, in all of its awe-inspiring variations, are truly a wonder to behold. It’s easy to assign these wonders to an all powerful entity… God. But, is it… really? I mean, is there a God?

Evolution

I believe in what is scientifically provable… what is logical. For me, in order for God to exist, God would have to be able to defy all the laws of physics during and after the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago. Also, it is estimated that there are 10 trillion galaxies in the universe… Why then, have we humans of Earth, been singled out by any God for ‘salvation’? And why humans? Why not another species? We’re just the latest in a long line of animals to exist on Earth. Were it not for the death of dinosaurs, humankind most likely would never have had the opportunity to rise up to become the dominant species currently at the top of the evolutionary food chain.

Something to ponder…

Something to Ponder…

Political correctness permeates many aspects of our everyday lives. Incrementally, it has crept upon us in such a way as to render common sense and objective reasoning almost non-existent. Words and terminologies are thrown around without much thought going into the real meanings being conveyed.
Have you ever wondered about the term ‘African-American’? The term appears on a multitude of government forms and job applications. Many people use the term interchangeably to mean ‘black’. The funny thing is that a ‘hyphenated American’ originally was defined as someone who was a first generation American. Therefore, an African-American could be any skin color under the sun. The term ‘African-American’ is not a racial designation… even if it has been misapplied and accepted over the years.
Another politically correct and popular misconception concerns people with gender identity issues. I realize that the idea of homosexuality being a mental disorder went out of favor in the late 70’s. Still, I strongly feel that once a person suffering from a gender identity crisis has identified the root of their problem, the cause will most likely be a combination of deep emotional scars and behaviors indicative of a narcissistic personality. My personal opinions aside, one can no more change their gender than they can change their species. A male will always be male as a female will always be female. Their chromosomes determine their sex. The only people to whom this is not strictly applied are hermaphrodites.
Currently, popular political correctness is targeting the flag once used by The Army of Northern Virginia, aka the Rebel flag. The Confederate States of America, over the course of the Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression), from 1861 – 1865… chose three flags to represent the Confederacy. The flag of The Army of Northern Virginia was not one of them. The general argument is that the flag in question represented slavery, as well as sedition, and should be purged from the American culture. Let’s look a little deeper. The ‘Rebel’ flag was only in use during the four years the Civil War was being waged. Before that time, slavery was very much a part of our history and culture. From the time of the founding of our great country, Old Glory has represented the United States. How come Old Glory isn’t being targeted as a racist symbol?
Trying to reasonably discuss these ideas with most people typically ends with accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’. It’s sad when you realize how unthinking the general public tends to be.

 

Crash and burn.

Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, resigned today. She’s been posing as a black woman for many years and her parents finally outed her. In her past, she’s complained about being a victim of racism in a heavily white region. She also sued Howard University in 2002, claiming “race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender, as well as retaliation”.

 

I find it ironic and funny as hell, a white woman has made such a mockery of a (in my opinion) inherently racist institution. Sure, the NAACP allows people of differing ethnic backgrounds to join, but their foremost goal is to promote the black race. Rachel Dolezal scammed her way into a leadership role with the local NAACP and they fell for her ruse hook, line, and sinker. And the turmoil it caused within the group, as well as the nationwide ridicule the chapter has garnered, has created a definite schism amongst the members.

 

The recent ‘big story’ has been about Bruce Jenner coming out of the homosexual closet and calling himself ‘Caitlyn’. The media has been clamoring over him and embracing his ‘becoming a woman’. Guess what… Bruce is still a man. He’ll never be anything other than a gay guy prancing around in women’s clothing. I know, I know… I’m being politically incorrect. I should be using the term ‘transgendered’. LOL! Right! Bruce is mentally ill.

 

How does Rachel Dolezal’s ordeal tie in with Bruce ‘Fruit Loops’ Jenner? Simply because the media is now proposing the politically correct term to describe Dolezal’s dilemma as ‘transracial’. Really? What the hell is she??? A black soul trapped in a white woman’s body??? Thank God she isn’t also confused about her gender! She would be a ‘transracial-transgendered-American’. Try finding that box to check off on an application form. All kidding aside, she’s just another nut job with mental issues… another thing she has in common with Bruce Jenner. Rachel-Dolezal

 

Baltimore and Freddie Gray

I’ve refrained from commenting on this story all week. But with the arrest of six officers in Mr. Gray’s death, it seems like a rush to judgment is in full swing.

Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray, died at the age of 25. He was first arrested at 17 and his police record has consisted of 18 different arrests.

  • March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
  • March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
  • January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
  • January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
  • December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
  • December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
  • January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
  • September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second- degree escape
  • April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation
  • July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute
  • March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute
  • February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation
  • August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana
  • August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts)

Barely two weeks have passed and charges have been brought against six police officers in the Freddie Gray case. I highly suspect there hasn’t been enough of a depth of investigation to warrant charges being brought so soon. It is for this reason, I believe, that most of the current charges against the officers will be dismissed or fail at trial.

Baltimore Background:

It is interesting to note that all 15 city council members of Baltimore, including the mayor and police chief, are democrats. There hasn’t been a Republican mayor in Baltimore since 1967.

The current mayor of Baltimore is Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, another democrat. She currently serves as the secretary of the Democratic National Committee and is the vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. She was also a member of the Baltimore city council from December 1995 until January 2007.

The Baltimore Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts, was once married to Laura Richardson… one time U.S. Representative of California’s 37th congressional district. She was defeated in 2012 by democrat Janice Hahn by more than 20 percentage points. In August 2012, the House Ethics committee found that Laura Richardson violated federal law, violated House rules, and obstructed the committee’s investigation. She was found guilty on seven counts of violating House rules by improperly pressuring her staff to campaign for her, destroying evidence and tampering with witness testimony. There were many allegations concerning Anthony Batts during his tenure as Chief in Oakland and Long Beach. Among them were Lobstergate and the possibility the Oakland Police Dept would be put under federal receivership.

Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby is a democrat. She’s married to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby (D). Nick Mosby represents areas of west Baltimore where riots erupted earlier this week. Marilyn Mosby also has ties to the attorney representing Gray’s family, William Murphy, Jr. Mr. Murphy has raised monies and contributed to Marilyn Mosby’s campaign… as well as being a member of her transition team. It was for this reason, Gene Ryan (police union leader), asked Mosby to appoint a special prosecutor. She’s resisting appointing a special prosecutor.

Balitmore facts and demographics:

Population: 622,000

63% of the population is black

29% of the population is white

Low-wage service economy jobs accounts for 90% of jobs in the city.

Baltimore is an independent city and is not part of any county.

Baltimore has been a democratic stronghold for 150 years.

 

My take on this…

I believe liberal democrats have destroyed many people’s lives, their livelihoods, and the communities where they’re entrenched. Trillions have been spent on LBJ’s ‘war on poverty’ and guess what? We still have poverty. Yet, the liberals will bitch and complain that we’re not doing enough as a nation to end poverty. Our schools have suffered under the collective thumbs of teacher’s unions… another huge pool of liberal democrats. In my opinion, today’s democratic party is a modern slave plantation. Sounds absurd, I know. But think about this… if you’re dependent upon Social Security, welfare, Section 8/government housing, of a whole host of other entitlements… would you really vote for a conservative that wants to cut or reduce those entitlements? Of course not! In essence, your vote has been purchased by way of entitlements. You’re a slave of your overlords, the Democratic Party.

I believe Baltimore is just the latest example of the failure of liberal democrat policies. There aren’t any Republicans around to blame for their plight. And they cannot blame racism either. While 3 of the 6 officers charged are white, the other three are black. The whole governing political structure in charge are black and democrats.