Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men....

Wishing you and yours a safe and prosperous New Year, wherever the trail takes you.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Author's note: This was put together fairly quickly and in response to several inquiries regarding my thoughts on the recent mass shootings. It's not as polished as I'd like, but it's self reflective and I'll put it out there. I wanted to refrain from writhing on this topic at all as it ventures quite far from my usual genre. Comment moderation is on and given the amount of inappropriate commentary I've already read on this topic I may not publish any of them. Intelligent commentary is, of course, welcome.

As an observation about the events in Connecticut...

It seems to me that calling this event a tragedy isn't really correct- this is an atrocity. A school bus crashing on an icy road is a tragedy; the purposed murder of children is an atrocity.

The proper response to tragedy is sorrow, whereas the proper response to atrocity is rage.

And here's the rub- with these sorts of events the person primarily responsible often winds up dead in the act; leaving us rage without a target. People will sort this out in a variety of ways- some direct their rage toward the instrument (i.e. the gun), toward the shooter's family, toward elements of society they perceive to have enabled the shooter, to the government and, lastly, God. I've seen all of these responses in the last 24 hours, some of them within the ranks of my friends and family as well as myself.

While it's all very normal, it does leave us lacking with all the talk about changing our laws in response to such events in order to prevent it from happening again. All this misplaced emotional rage clouds our judgement and prevents us from having any sort of meaningful discourse. As a nation we demand action- and are far from being able to discern what, to whom, and to where.

Do we, as a society, need some type of stricter controls on arms? Or, as some suggest, less controls? I don't know the answer to either, but as an individual I take encroachment on my liberties quite seriously. I also take the safety of my family seriously and the safety of our nation seriously as well. If we are going to have a national discourse on gun control I'd certainly like it to be with the clearest minds possible and that isn't now. Most people I know with even a modicum of compassion are hurting. And angry. And confused. 

I believe we will, and should, engage in the debate about the ease of access to arms in our society. If undertaken, we need reason and diligence to protect both our liberties and our safety. But not now- now is the time for prayer, and tears, and mourning. Not a vicious debate.

Quick draw bantering- the same old tired cliches back and forth is meaningless and will only break our civil discourses down further. There are folks on both sides of this debate who will use the emotions of the day to further their agendas- and I don't care which side they're on- engaging in a sort of opportunistic ghoulism provided by the blood of innocents. It disgusts me beyond wrath and it should you too. To be perfectly clear- if at this point you're either calling for more gun control or crying out against it- your priorities as a human being, frankly, just suck. 

I'm suspicious of special interests, politicians and others (who may not actually care very much about the safety of our families) that are going to be talking a lot in the next few weeks about the safety of our families. For a lot of those folks it's about winning a long running debate, a philosophcal argument more so than anything else. They've entered into this discourse with their minds firmly made up from days and battles long past and aren't going to engage in anything new or meaningful at all. Mere vitriol for the cameras- soundbites to appease their supporters and donors. For so long the debate about arms has been between the margins- the vocal outliers on both sides who don't do a very good job of representing us. Any of us.

I'm also deeply suspicious of anyone who steps forward and purports to have an easy solution. This atrocity isn't merely about guns, if it were the solutions would be pretty simple. The factors that lead to these attocities aren't simple problems and there are no easy solutions. In fact- there may not even be a solution and that troubles me deeply. The problems in our society are many- easy access to weapons, a culture enamored with extreme violence as entertainment, a moral compass that spins wildly out of control, a national mental healthcare crisis, a generation of medicated and maladjusted young people- freedoms undertaken without responsibility. To focus on one element of this atrocity is myopic at best and irresponsible at worst.

As a nation built on democracy and civil discourse there will be time for all of that...but not now.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Practicool, not Tacticool...or I'm Officially Sick of Zombies

OK folks...here we are a week past Thanksgiving and a few weeks shy of Christmas and winter is upon us full force. It's dark and cold and, given the season, I've had to venture out to do the seasonal shopping. I absolutely refuse to participate in Black Friday madness so the shopping waited a bit until this week.

I tend to shop local as much as possible but given my locale there are certainly some things I have to travel to a larger city to find. While I'm there I generally like to make my way to the "Hook and Bullet Superstore"- which is basically everything you need and a lot of what you don't under one gigantic roof. I've been aware for some time that the outdoors industry is every bit as a fashion and fad driven as any other that markets it's wares to John Q. Public. I purposely try to stay out of the fray given my self admitted gear nerd tendencies (SBW would call me a 'kit tart' with a proper British accent) or I'd be right there with the rest of my gear nerd brethren arguing to the supremacy of 250 vs 300 gr/in merino wool, the 7mm vs the .30s, or some other vital minutiae.

That said- what I find on my visits to the "H&B Superstore" sometimes gives me no shortage of chuckles. It seems in the fashion driven world of hunting the word "Tactical" is back and "camo is the new black". It seems there is no end to what accoutrement manufacturers will slap camouflage paint on and no silvery, shiny surface they'll not black out in an effort to "tacticfy" it. Yep- camo, matte black, and the trendy "Flat Dark Earth" color (which conspicuously looks like old school khaki to me) on everything from clothes to packs to tents, to whatever. Among the wares tactified were knives, lighters, flashlights and other items it seemed to me might be in the outdoorsman's best interest to find quickly and not lose.

Case in point- a fine looking knife with a MARPAT sheath and handle and a blade coated with some type of FDE coating. You know, as a guy who uses a knife in the field quite a lot  I'll be dead level honest with you- I'd lose that thing in a second. I'd set it down while working on a critter and never find it again. Heck, I've lost bright, shiny and pretty knives to the tundra and boreal forest without trying. These days I buy knives that are two things- inexpensive and, preferably, orange. You know, a knife is a pretty important piece of equipment to the outdoorsman and it seems silly to make one harder to find on purpose- especially since no one I know ever spooked a deer or moose with the handle of their knife. Of course, if you make knives I can see some value in making them easier to lose.

Come on guys (and it's always guys)- we're hunters not ninjas.

The other fashionable artifact I saw in great abundance were zombies. Yep....zombies. Unless you're living under a rock or are my next door neighbor you're already quite aware that folks in the US (and maybe other places as well) are flat out fascinated with the brain munching undead. I gotta admit that I find the notion a bit less than appealing. Maybe more so since it's now infected the outdoor market and I saw items such as "Zombie Max" ammunition- might sound like a joke but the bullets are real. Not funny. Seriously. I also saw a "Zombie survival kit" (not on my list of things I worry about), zombie targets (again, not on my list) and a shotgun marketed as a "Zombie Slayer". You know- maybe I need to lighten up a bit but marketing real arms and ammo to the X-Box crowd might not be in our collective best interest.

After seeing these sorts of products, maybe we could start a new trend..."Practicool". You heard me- an item that's practical in it's construction, useful in this paradigm of existence and made in a color that doesn't virtually guarantee it's immediate loss. How about an orange handled knife that costs a mere $15? Everybody ought to have two! Tents would come in one color....bright yellow and ammo will kill real creatures as opposed to mythical ones out at the Walter Mitty Gun Range.

Alright, rant off.