Sunday, January 30, 2011

Georgia Pacific is squeezing my brain

Please...I need your help.  This has reached crisis  proportions and I am, indeed, an island.  One man against a huge corporation...Georgia Pacific.  I would do anything to get this post to go viral...if you can feel my anguish after reading this, please pass a link on to everyone you know.  Let me see if I can actually talk about it...I may need to medicate.

 If I see another Quilted Northern toilet paper commercial all the synaptic pathways in my brain will mimic a toaster being dropped into a bath tub.  Ok...the cartoon bears were cute...sort of...but did any of you think, like I did: "This is offensive.they're using Yogi and Boo Boo's GI issues to hawk TP because of that old sarcastic adage, "Does a bear shit in the woods?"  Somebody tell me I'm wrong.  I can just see the ad-schmucks in that meeting.  Then they took it a step further.  The little dude had little chunks of TP all over his bear butt.  OK...too much.

But...Mein Gott und Nuestra Senora, Maria, Madre de Dios or OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  These new ones /, just in case.  They have all these horrendously icky women that are like 50s housewives/feminist activists/attendees of empowerment seminars...the kind where the real point is it's society's fault that men don't worship us and being hideous and shrill and emasculating are actually our positive qualities.  (sorry, complex stereotype).  And...all these creatures are speaking in 1960s militantesque making manifesto-like proclamations that they're going to "get real about what really happens in the bathroom."  And, apparently, what happens in the REAL bathroom...Can I bring myself to actually say it?  Again...apparently, if they do not have the canvas like strength and ermine like softness of Quilted Northern, they smear themselves with fecal matter.  I guess they just can't help it.  If it isn't Quilted Northern, poo goes everywhere.  Really?  No, Really?  Did the really have to go there?  They must be stopped, please help with any and all suggestions.  Western Civilization awaits your support and sacrifice.  Thank you

A title would steal the drama

One very cold and snowy afternoon several years ago, Whitny and I were up at the Yosemite house.  I don't remember what I was doing.  Whitny was sitting in front of the fire with her laptop.  Suddenly there was a brilliant flash and one of those peals of thunder that kind of click and sound and feel like a train has slammed into the house.  Then, there was a flicker and that weird little cacophony of everything that requires power shutting down.  It is the sound of death.  As we sat there discussing all the ramifications of being without electricity and anticipating the prospect of hours of having to exist as primitives, a walking tour of the property in the remaining daylight seemed like a good idea.

The original stagecoach road into Yosemite Valley runs the length of our property.  At the time, it had been neglected for many, many years.  Not only could you not drive it, there were places where it was difficult to walk it.  Our standard walk of the property is to go down the stagecoach road to the big meadow on the far side of the property where we used to camp, cross the creek on the bridge my uncle built and walk back to our driveway on the paved county road.

As we crunched our way through a foot and a half of snow, the gray and white silence was ripped with a plaintive cry with a bird like quality. But, it was no bird I had ever heard.  We looked at one another and began to speculate as to what it was and where it might be coming from.  Our place is in a little hollow that gives very odd acoustic variation to sound.  The melancholy sound intensified as we seemed to come closer to the source.  Essentially at the same time, Whitny and I looked at one another and said: "That's a woman screaming...isn't it?"  We slogged on for a couple hundred yards and then entered the section of the road where it borders the creek and is still heavily forested.  By this time, we could clearly tell that is was indeed a woman screaming.  In lower tones, coming in staccato bursts was the voice of a man, panicky and full of mounting anger.  Then, the occasional revving of a large V-8, tired and in need of a tune-up.  We still could not make out the words, nor the direction from where they were coming.  I felt a little shiver of apprehension as I realized it was all somewhere in front of us.  The fact that the sounds were in front of us meant they were on our property.  The only way they could have gotten where they were was via the gate at the other end of the property which had a substantial chain and lock securing it.  I would have been somewhat more optimistic about what we were about to encounter had the weather been different.  But, in my experience in those woods, the only people out roaming about in those conditions, under those circumstances, are tweakers.

For those of you unfamiliar with the species, tweakers are former human beings who have traded their status in the evolutionary chain for a life of wandering the forests in search of anything of value that they might trade for meth.  As we rounded the last corner, my worst fears were realized.  Tweakers can be identified upon sight.  They look like they just stumbled out of a concentration camp, covered with open sores, and they manage to acquire a filthiness that I have never seen anywhere else.  Sitting in front of us was an old Ford F-150, jacked up at least 18", but as we looked on, it was sitting on the frame in the mud.  We were still mostly concealed by foliage and the occupants had not seen us.  Again, because of past experience, I don't go out into the woods unarmed.  On this particular occasion I not only had a pistol in a shoulder holster, but I had dropped a another in my jacket pocket that had a tactical light.

 As I handed Whitny the Glock I had a very disquieting emotional disconnect.  My daughter was in danger and I would do anything to protect her.  At the same time, I was glad to have her there to back me up.  I very cautiously approached the driver's window with the pistol in my hand, down, against my side, but visible.  I asked the guy what he was doing on our property, but in the middle of the question I saw that he had a 12 gauge shotgun with the barrel and stock cut off and wrapped in duct tape between his legs.  This is a weapon with the sole purpose of blowing a very large hole in a person at very close range.  At that moment, I was the person who had just been pigeon-holed in this a-hole's brain most likely to need a large hole in them.  My pistol came up, muzzle right in his face.   He went through a number of contortions and facial expressions that gave no clue as to what he was thinking.  He completely ignored my question regarding the reason for their trespass.  Instead, he chose to state the obvious.  "We're stuck.  Can you help us out?"  My reaction surprised me again.  I was feeling anger.  I was feeling indignation.  I had an odd sense of violation.  And, I had a gun in this guy's face.  It's so odd to think of what ran through my mind...inane things like...yes, I could get you out...I have a backhoe, but I'd rather not, because you are not a good person.  And you've placed me in an odd see, I'm tempted to say, "Yeah, let me go get my backhoe."  because that's the kind of guy I am, as opposed to the kind of guy you are...a guy who broke into my property and you have a gun sitting there that only has one purpose and that purpose is to kill people like me and my daughter who accidentally catch you doing things you shouldn't be doing. While I was thinking all these things, some other autonomic part of my neurological system made my mouth say, in a civil, yet, sarcastic tone: "Not without a Chinook.  You are really stuck."  Then my mind raced again.  I thought, you know, there really isn't good etiquette information for situations like this.  He is completely ignoring the fact that I have a gun in his face and really placing me in an awkward social position.  The other thing that popped into my head was that in my peripheral vision I was fairly certain I was seeing the woman slamming crank  (colloquialism > v. to inject meth) in the back seat.  Now you have your tweakers, and you have your really hardcore tweakers who would actually shoot up.  And, so, Jim was thinking...what do I do next?  I'm kind of in a life and death situation with people who are in that second category and totally spun and if they feel any emotion at all its going to be paranoia. (random, racing thoughts don't have grammar or punctuation really).

Then he asked me if Whitny and I could stand on his rear bumper to give him traction.  This was good.  I turned and whispered to Whitny to just take off as fast as she could toward the meadow.  I started walking backward, my gun pointed at him.  This was the most tense part of the whole ordeal.  I had no idea what level of cognitive function this guy had going on, but I had to assume he had perhaps done something similar before and knew that...given the weapon he had, putting a little distance between us, especially where I couldn't see if he was going for it, gave him an advantage.  Anywhere from  the time I left the window to, let's say, 75 feet away, in a situation like that you don't get to use the sights.  I was trying to watch two people, walk backwards in the snow and if that shotgun did come up I would have to point and shoot...not aim and shoot...point and shoot.  Whereas, should he decide to shoot when I was still within that range, he couldn't miss.  I explain all this just so you can appreciate my relief when I got out of range and caught up with Whitny.  I suppose I was giving this guy more tactical thinking ability than he deserved.  But, it wasn't like I had a choice regarding what was going to be running through my head.  In retrospect, I have thought I should have taken the shotgun before backing up.  But, I had no clue what was going on in the back seat and getting away as quickly as possible seemed the most appealing choice at the time.  Since I am sitting here writing this with no superfluous holes in me, I suppose I made the right choice.

We got to the meadow and saw where they had broken in and driven through the snow.  The tire tracks explained their movements and it appeared as though they didn't really mean to try and come up the stagecoach road.  They were just so high, I think they got confused as to which way to go to get back to the county road.

All the way back to the house, Whitny and I could hear them.  It's a bit difficult to describe if you haven't been there, but we had to walk away from the house to get to the paved road, and then back toward the house.  The paved county road and the stagecoach road parallel each other with the creek in between.  So, since we knew where they were, the acoustics were no longer an issue.  We could tell they were still trying to get the truck out.  It took maybe 20 minutes to get back to the house and call the sheriff.  We're in what they call "north county" and Mariposa is almost an hour from us.  You never know how soon the sheriffs will show up.  This time, there were some deputies at the north county substation which is only a couple of miles from us.  I have no idea how long it actually took them to get there, but it seemed like Whitny was calling downstairs to me telling me they were coming up our road as I hung up the phone.

Two deputies showed up, each in their own 4X4 with AR-15s in the racks.  I walked out to meet them.  One drove to the front of the house, the other drove up the cement driveway part way that leads to the upstairs portion of the house.  After Whitny and I explained what had happened, they decided it would be best to box them in.  So, one went down the stagecoach road straight toward them and the other asked me to go with him and show him how to get in the back way.  We had to park in the meadow and walk in.  As we were walking, the deputy said, "I hope they run.  I love it when they run."

 It was 12 degrees and the woman was in a tank top and men's boxers.  That's it.  No shoes...nothing.  They didn't put up any resistance.  They were so high still I just can't even imagine what was happening in their brains.  I shouldn't say they didn't put up resistance.  He didn't.  She was still screaming.  The first time I actually understood words was when she was protesting to the deputies that she wouldn't step out of the truck into the snow without shoes.  It was all so surreal.  One of the deputies carried her to his truck.

When they told the deputies their names, one said to the other, "Man, we finally got 'em."  I asked what he meant.  Apparently they had found the cabin these two had been living in and it was filled with stolen property, including a phone booth.  Don't ask me....  And...wanna guess?  Her birth certificate.  Looking at this pair, as Whitny put it: "They looked like they were about 35, but a really hard 35."  As it turned out, he was actually 21 and she was 18 and they had two kids in the foster system.

I really wish the story ended there.  But, at some point while I was helping the deputies look through their truck to see how much of the stolen property was mine, something felt wrong.  I felt light on my left side.  Seriously, when I reached up and felt my empty shoulder holster, I had more of a sick feeling in my stomach than I had when I saw the shotgun.  My mind started racing.  It wasn't like I lost my watch.  As I stood there, probably with my mouth hanging open it just got worse and worse.  OK, on the positive side, it was obviously on our property somewhere, so, it wasn't going to fall into the wrong hands.  The only other place it could have possibly been was in the deputy's truck.  That seemed unlikely...didn't it?  I was getting frantic.  The deputies left and I told Whitny what happened.  And then, I was one of the guns listed on my CCW.  Great...I get to go tell the sheriff that I lost my gun during that fiasco.  What a nightmare....

I walked the quarter mile loop probably 6 times while it started to snow again.  Eventually, at like 3am Whitny convinced me to stop wandering around like an idiot in the snow and go to bed.  As I laid in bed reliving the entire experience it occurred to me what happened.  I had taken it out of the holster when I was calling the sheriff.  When Whit called down that they were coming up the road, I shoved it in my shoulder holster and didn't snap the strap, thinking I was just going to come back in the house and take it off and put it away.  So, when the one deputy asked me to go with him and my pistol way just shoved in the horizontal shoulder holster sans retaining was inevitable.  The next morning I woke up to another 6 to 8 inches of snow.  OK...there was no way I was going to find it by just looking.  My anxiety was peaking.  Fortunately I have a brilliant daughter.  She said, "Dad, what about a metal detector?  Do you have a metal detector?"  I felt a surge of hope.  "No, I don't, but we can go buy one." I said happily.  After a number of phone calls we found a place in Merced that sold metal detectors.  Only an hour away.  So, we jumped in the truck and drove to Merced.  When we got there, I thought Mapquest had led us astray. Our directions said to turn left, away from the shopping centers, down a farm road.  A couple miles down the road, there was the address.  It was a farmhouse.  At least we had cell reception.  So, I called the shop to see where we had gone wrong.  The gentleman said from the metal detector shop listened to my dilemma, instead of explaining where Mapquest messed up, he said "Is that you outside in the red Avalanche?" OK....I mean, the ad in the phone book....well, he was a nice guy and he had a metal detector.  Yes, one metal detector.  His Yellow Pages ad itself would wipe out his profit margin.  Oh well...not my problem.  But...I did have another problem...this guy was a cash only guy and he hadn't bothered to mention that on the phone.  I just realized I still owe Whitny for the metal detector.

So, we get back home and I start walking the loop.  I start finding old nails, license plates, barbed wire...just cool stuff in general.  I mean, why didn't I think of this before?  The original stagecoach road...there is all kinds of cool stuff.  But no gun.  I spent all day walking that loop.  I couldn't imagine where it could have gone.  Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that I had lost an $800.00 gun that I was going to have to report to the sheriff in disgrace.  I was sitting on the porch, looking out across the meadow and noticed some tracks in the snow.  I was staring out at them, wondering what would have left such big tracks so close to the house.  Bears wouldn't be out that time of year.  Oh...I felt foolish.  That was where the deputy and I had run up to his truck parked on the driveway.  A light bulb visibly appeared above my head.  I ran to get the metal detector.  What a brilliantly beautiful melody the metal detector played.  What a glorious light show....little green LED lights dancing as if to tell me that all was well with the world and there really is a Santa Claus.


If we're being honest, this is not an attractive gun.  In fact, it is an ugly, ugly gun.  But, as they say, and they do is all in the eye of the beholder.  When I pulled this beast from the snow drift, it was beautiful.  I am elated just remembering the feeling.  And, I think a night in the snow was good for it...toughened it up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011



OK, What the heck is this now?  I may be the only person in the world that would make this connection, but I find it fascinating.  This Hi Standard 102  Supermatic Trophy .22 target pistol is one of my favorite pistols.  The Esterbrook "J" fountain pen is one of my favorite pens.  They were both made about the time I was born.  I have many of each in all their different varieties.  But, for the sake of mood, I chose rich, dark hues for the comparison.  The contrast is irrelevant. The similarities are almost bizarre.  Hi Standard was the only manufacturer to come up with the idea of removable, interchangeable barrels.  Except for the earliest of Hi Standards and the fact that they changed the mechanism shortly after implementing it, essentially any Hi Standard barrel will fit on any Hi Standard frame.  Esterbrook, America's oldest pen company, until they went out of business, about the same time that Hi Standard also pulled the plug is the only pen company to market a fountain pen that had interchangeable nibs.  Rather than being press fitted into the section, the nib and feed are one unit that screws into the section so, one pen can take essentially all Esterbrook or Venus nibs.  The marketing idea was the same.  One pen barrel (yes, the body of a fountain pen is called a barrel) and several nibs rather than several other entire pens. 

 Hi Standard sold some of their higher end target pistols with sets of three barrels of different lengths.  This particular model, or series, the 102-104 Supermatic series, was called the "Space Gun" because with the weights and the futuristically shaped muzzle compensator made it look like the Ray Guns in the robot from space movies of the 50s.   Well, ok, the marketing was probably a good idea, but imagine for a moment what they did to me.  Yep, I've got barrels and nibs....barrels and nibs.  Don't say that fast too many times.

Now that you've read this...can you admit that two things that you thought you had absolutely no interest in actually are quite interesting now that you know some stuff that you probably wouldn't have ever heard anywhere else?

Friday, January 28, 2011


Product Placement Impaired Polar Bear

This morning, I was photographing some things and something just told me that I needed to take my Glock stress squeeze ball and let Gail's Polar Tanker Bear hold it for a photo.  Then, not unlike seeing the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast, there was a piece of art on my camera screen.  It says so many things and it says nothing.  When you look at it, your first reaction is: "What the hell is that?"  If that isn't the very definition of art, I don't know what is.  I may have to change my profile.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


If I may digress from my primary point to set this one up...  Gail has been quite ill for some time.  It's amazing to me how long she went with every diagnosis from MS to Lupus, to Chronic Fatigue and on and on.  Finally, she was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease and because of all the time gone by with all the misdiagnoses, she is in the tertiary stage.  So, some of the damage is permanent and she is about as miserable as I have ever seen her as they as giving her massive doses of antibiotics to kill off the stuff.  So, back to the point... When she was feeling better, but not good enough to do much of anything, she would just look around online for things she thought I might need, especially as I worked on the Yosemite house.  Well, she saw these and bought one to see if I liked it.  I have actually found them quite useful.  They are a very bright halogen light that fits on my head.  So, they are very useful for fixing things in the middle of the night.  So, she bought me a whole bunch of them so I could just stick them everywhere I might use them.  They aren't very expensive.  I have used them for several years, occasionally opening a new one as I needed.  The only downside is the batteries are very hard to put in.  Somehow I did this without ever even noticing the packaging.  I hate this kind of packaging and it is one of the reasons I always carry a knife.  For some reason, I actually looked at this one before I opened it.  That is when it struck me.  What in the hell does this light have to do with playing golf?  Was there a meeting, or did they just have a photo on a card the right size?  I really want to know if there was any actual thought put into this package.  I really want to know and have no idea how to find out. 


Buffalo Clip from Sundance and Indian Head from Orvis

If you have read much of my blog, I think we can all pretty much agree that I have OCD.  This is just one more facet of it that I share for your entertainment and my purging, hoping to get a bit of control over it.  The whole money clip thing has been going on all my life.  I like them because I've never been big on carrying a lot of money in a wallet and with a money clip, I can sort it by denomination and make sure its all facing the same way, you know, OCD stuff.  It got a lot worse a few years back when I was actually in the business of buying estates and always carried a lot of money on me because if you don't have the cash, you don't get the deal.  It came to its worst when I picked up a camo money clip at the Shot Show at Las Vegas.  Gail thought I had just gone too redneck.  Then, to make it even worse, I was up at the Yosemite house by myself and in a hurry one day.  I had gone to the little market in Greeley Hill and when I got back home and emptied my pockets, my little camo money clip with all the money I had was not there.  I realized immediately what I had done.  My keys were on a lanyard, and I paid for whatever I bought and shoved the money clip in my pocket on top of my keys.  Obviously, when I pulled my keys out, with the lanyard, it took the money clip with them.   It couldn't have been 10 minutes, but by the time I got back to the market...someone had found it.  I just kept telling myself that I hoped that it was somebody who really needed the money and not some tweak who used it to go buy meth.  That's about a  50/50 chance there.  Well, I actually stopped carrying money clips for a while.  Then, Gail bought me the one above on the left.  I really like this clip.  It matches a whole bunch of others little things I have, and its just cool.  I have also stopped putting lanyards on my keys.  (except for my quads and backhoe and things like that...whole different purpose)  Then, one day I realized I didn't know where my money clip was.  I had no clue where I had lost it.  I was slowly losing my mind over this and quickly driving Gail insane by mentioning it every day.  One night I was on the Internet, kind of out of it from back pain and lack of sleep.  I came across a money clip very similar to the one I lost.  I think at the time I thought to myself, "If I buy another one, I'll find the lost one."  Things usually work that way for me.  I remember thinking that...not actually buying it.  Just a couple of days ago I got this strange visual image of my briefcase tipping over in the back seat of my truck and spilling out.  Even though I had looked under the back seat for it maybe 10 times, I went outside at like 3 in the morning and looked again.  Just as I was about to give up, I saw something that looked kind of strange.  I reached for it and it was as if my money clip just appeared in my hand.  It had fallen against the seat rail in such a way that it had looked like it was part of the mechanism.  Then, the next day, the other one showed up in the mail.  Well, looking on the bright side, they aren't identical.  Gail bought the original one from Sundance,   I bought the second one from Orvis.  The new one is a bit bigger and has slots for cards.  Though, the clip is magnetic, so I wouldn't carry credit cards in it.  Well, all in all, I am really glad to have the one Gail gave me back...and in a way, I almost wonder if I would have found it if I hadn't bought the new one.  I at least got a story out of it.  Even if it is one that makes me look foolish.

It's kind of hard to see, but "Sundance" is embossed in the one and "Orvis" in the other.

Just a few of the money clips I've used over the years
Is anyone surprised that I still have all these?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Miller Photo Company, Klamath Falls, OR
Street Scene, East Rochester, Nevada, No. 293

This is one of very few pieces in the puzzle that was the original Uncle Ernie.  The back story on that is that a lot of people, especially people that worked for him, called my dad Uncle Ernie.  That always made me think of Uncle Ernie in The Who's Tommy.  This is the story of his Uncle Ernie, my grandfather's older brother that kind of just falls off the map.  He was a miner who seems to have left home when he was 13 or 14 years old.  Most of what I know about my grandfather's family I had to research.  I don't remember him talking about them at all.  Even though I lived with him for a while when I was in college, he didn't seem to want to talk about his parents or siblings.  There was a lot of pain I wasn't going to intrude.  It wasn't until 2002 that I finally found out who my great grandfather was.  I'm just about at that same place with great Uncle Ernie.  He was the eldest of my grandfather's half siblings.  My first introduction to his existence was when my dad gave me  a very nice set of prospector's magnifying glasses and a Smith and Wesson Revolver and told me they had belonged to his namesake.  I'll add photos of those when I have access to them.

I had tried to research him.  Once I knew who my great grandfather was I had a little better idea of where to start looking.  My great grandmother, Rosa Goerke, had come over from Austria in 1876 to live with her brother Paul in Rosita, Colorado.  The family story was that she was kind of an arranged marriage for Frederick Braun.  I'd probably still think that, but by the strangest coincidence, looking for something else entirely, I found an article in a Pueblo, Colorado paper about Frederick Braun leaving to go back home to Germany for a two year trip and, his ship sailed out of New York the very week that Rosa, Paul and his wife Ida arrived.  So, I feel fairly safe in saying it wasn't an arranged marriage.  I guess people just thought that because Mr. Braun was 20 years older and she was quite an attractive woman.  Later, doing some other research, I found them all in a census and Frederick Braun and Paul Goerke were next door neighbors.  So, I assume this is how they met when he came back from his extended trip.

This is where Ernie comes into the picture.   However the courtship happened, it happened quickly because, between 1878 and 1882 they married and had Ernest, Helen and Anna.  Braun just disappears in 1882.  I am still looking, but am surprised at how much I have looked without results for the details of the death of such a prominent man.  The family seems to have gone through some very hard times and Rosa somehow met and married my great grandfather, Ory T. Davis.  They were married just about long enough to have him and learn to truly hate one another and divorce.  This is the most puzzling part of my family history to me.  I grew up hearing that Ory was a horrible man.  But, when I did find him in 2002, I found the biggest prize this kind of research can bring a person.  My cousin...Debbie.  She was such a gift in so many ways.  Not only did I discover that Ory was a truly great man from her.  It is almost surreal to me because when I was young and thought about my great grandfather, I imagined Debbie.  I can't explain it.  I just knew she was out there.  I pictured her, even down to what she looks like.  Then, 
in 2002, Gail and I were on a trip and found a historical society in Colorado that was putting on a display of Ory's photographs.  They also put us in touch with Debbie.  It was just so weird.  

Well, I didn't mean to put so much in this post about Ernie, all this has other places to go,  I guess it's because Ernie is still such a mystery to me.  I have no idea how close he and my grandfather were.  I was thrilled to find this post card because it is the only thing I have of his that gives any insight at all to him as a personality.  It is a frontier, typical boom town post card of East Rochester, Nevada, dated April 1, 1913.  It is addressed to Edmond Braun, Barstow California.

On it Ernie said: Hello Ed Old Kid,  It has been a long time since I wrote to you so I'll drop you a card.  I have been doing the carpenter stunt but not having any tools or being an expert at the business, russling has been tuff.  I am playing the mining game, trying to peddle some claims or commission.  Maybe into the money later.  With best regards, Ernest

Ernest never won any of those games.  As of right now, all I know is that my grandfather made a trip to Nevada to bury him not long after this post card.  I believe he died in a mining accident, but I'm not even certain of that.  A Smith & Wesson break-top, a set of magnifiers and a post card.  I do hope this isn't all I will ever know of him.