Sunday, October 28, 2012

Odds and Ends and Observations

1. My husband is quite happy to be a curmudgeonly stick in the mud, content in his way of the world. This is why God paired him with an Alaskan goth geek pilot - we are talking about the same sense of humor that made platypus, after all.

So this weekend, while at an Italian restaurant, I pushed him far, far outside his comfort zone. I pointed out that the Italians do not eat with their forks upside down like Brits do, and it'd be far better to try to eat Italian food the way Americans and Italians do.

After some thought, he flipped the fork over, and had the most endearingly awkward attempt to eat neatly with the fork held correctly. It would have worked better if he hadn't tried to pile two square inches of entree on each forkful, but the sheer determination when every fiber of his being was going "This isn't proper!" was quite endearing and amusing.

He gave up after two forkfuls.

On a related note, I now understand why the Brits are so attached to toast with everything, and eating everything with fork and knife. It's so they can cut a backstop at the end of the tines to try to hold food for long enough that it will reach their mouth, despite the utterly impractical notion that they should put the food on the backside of the fork.

Clearly, I need to get him to hold a fork correctly, as any proper American can, so he doesn't need or miss toast in the low-carb diet.

2. Never, ever, let a South African who knows his cheese loose near the Whole Foods cheese counter. Especially not when a very enthusiastic cheese-geek is manning the counter and eager to talk with someone else who knows "Continental" cheeses fairly unknown in the US. Most especially not when the person who is supposed to function as the control on the budget is hurting badly enough they're having trouble staying upright and conscious. We've spent less on a winery tour.

Oh, well, it's a very tasty haul. Diet? What's that?

3. One of the joys of registering Libertarian is that almost nobody bothered sending me their junkmail. (When I registered undecided, everybody sent political junkmail, trying to sway me. Libertarian, though, is so far from the current "moderate" that nobody figures I'm worth swaying by spamming. That's fine by me. I wonder if registering Green Party would do the same?)

4. A wonderful benefit of early voting: I now neither have to listen nor care until the votes are tallied. The whipped-up sound and fury of the whole monkey show is utterly ignorable, leaving more time for finding better things to do and think.

5. Stand up comics have a harder job than it seems. Facing down a sea of subordinates who are starting Another Work Day, informing them of updates and safety reminders, then motivating them is hard work. Strangely, it seems to go better when I wing it than when I'm handed lines to say.

Repeatedly telling them that I'd rather they ask questions than make assumptions, and that it's always okay to stop me and ask something, has led to a much higher than expected level of quality (expected for their point on the learning curve, to be precise). It also means doing a fifteen-minute job takes forty-five minutes, as people see me out on the floor and start flocking with questions. This is good. This is good. Keep repeating that and remain calm and cheery. Yaaaaargh!

6. I like military men. I can speak Army, and pidgin Air Force, but Marines, well, we'll have to resort to civilian for a mutual language. My company likes hiring vets and reserve, and I get on well with them. However, there's definitely been a few moments lately where the guys with plenty of gray in their clipped hair are turning a very sharp glare and tongue on the young guys with lots of...enthusiasm... and reminding them not-so-gently that I am a lady, not one of the guys, and that language is definitely never appropriate in the civilian workplace. It's relatively easy to reign in the subordinates, but it's harder when the, ah, enthusiastic language and stories are coming from higher up the chain.

7. When someone tries to complain about a boss's character and approach to life, apparently a blank look and "Well, of course. He's a helicopter pilot!" is not the expected response. Clearly, my subordinates need to know more helicopter pilots. After your first couple, it's a whole lot harder to get your feathers ruffled by 'em. (And you look on their antics with a fond grin, a wish to send them off on a motorcycle road trip to use up their reserve of mayhem, and to feed 'em grilled meat and beer by a bonfire. I mean, helicopter pilots. Of course they're crazy!)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

PMR-30 Round Count

For Matthew, of Straightforward In A Crooked World, who wants a real-world test across all platforms of .22LR and .22Mag:


.22 WMR
400 rounds, 40 grain CCI Maxi-Mag, no problems after I learned to how to double-check I've seated my rounds fully, and that I'm prone to not seating them right when trying to load with thick gloves on. So, no ammo failures, just a shooter failure.

.22 WMR
50 rounds, 30 grain CCI VR Max, 2 failure to eject the brass, whatever you call that, I'll look up the term tomorrow. (Someone dropped that box in as replacement for shooting my ammo. Very nice of them, and now I know that the manual was right when it emphatically stated I shouldn't use low-grain ammo. Also, I know that loading pointy polymer tips pricks my thumb even through thick gloves; hollowpoint hurts less.)

I think I need to clean the gun tomorrow, too.

Perfect Days

Sometimes, it seems there are no perfect things: the perfect day for flying will contain the reality of a bladder with less cycle time than the plane's fuel tanks, and the wind leaks and noise of a stripped-down plane. The perfect mountain climb with friends also contains the burning ache in the rebuilt knee as I struggle to get back down. The perfect road trip with Calmer Half usually contains some crabbiness about directions, eating, turns to drive, or something. Bills always come due, even sleep, blood sugar, and oxygen debt to a body that's no longer thirty.

That doesn't stop perfection from being a worthy goal to reach for, and something I often realize I reached in hindsight. It's a good day if no one's shooting at you. It's a good day for me that I can walk. In fact, it's a great day because I'm still breathing, and not eating my salad from the roots up.

I once tried, very hard, to capture perfect moments on camera - to somehow capture the essence of an infectious grin, of the sheer awe of an airplane thundering by right above a runway, the way the sound of an A-10 just makes my heart swell and overflow with feeling as it screams overhead. I ended up with a lot of pictures of little airplanes out of context in a blue sky, or the tail end disappearing out of the frame, or spectacular pictures of my thumb or people's shoes.

Some people go on to master photography, and to gain the skills and the eyes to see how to capture that moment. I went a different route - I put down the camera, and removed the artificial filter between myself and life. My imperfect, often fuzzy memory that drops entire weeks and years, then recalls something vividly after years of forgetting - it will have to do, as I stand there with tears welling up and face hurting from the ear to ear grin while an F-22 pours out pure power in shockwaves that vibrate my ribs like a flag in gusting wind.

I have no pictures from Colorado, either from meeting Sarah Hoyt or from Blogorado, nothing that I'll pull up in ten years to remark on how people have changed, or the things we did once back when. I won't remember the weekend perfectly, and the little things like smoke in my eyes from the cedar fire in the yard (burning old fenceposts, beautiful smell) to the way my lungs tried to turn inside out when Labrat cracked a perfume sample in the same room (really cool names, great scents, just can't breathe)... those will pass quickly away, leaving a large set of memories, like the wonderful conversation in a Thai restaurant between someone who lived through the Portuguese revolutions, someone who lived through those revolutions' affect on a Portuguese colony, and the cross-conversation between two American spouses. I won't remember any cat hair (though you know some must have been involved), only Havelock (a cat I'm certain belongs to the given name) trying to convince me he's sweet and innocent.

I'll remember the grins when other people tried my little PMR-30, the sheer fun of pushing partially-loaded magazines (it gets hard on my tiny hands after 10 rounds, so I stop at 15 for fun shooting) on people to enjoy. The big boom when 'splodey the tannerite pinata deer head disintegrated, of the return of the prairie dog jihadi from a successful hunt (not often in the USA you see a pickup bed crammed with bundled-up men holding AR's and other rifles pointed at the sky), the hours and nights of conversation, great food, baileys-laced coffee, and sheer number of fun and interesting people that I felt over-stimulated, over-peopled, for days on end.

I'm still exhausted by it all, but that's more from not scheduling a day off between flying and walking into the madhouse of work in the middle of my week. Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the dishes, or folding the full pile of finally-finished laundry. For now, I'll finish a cup of tea and talking about the perfect weekend already gone so swiftly into the past I can't recapture any moment exactly as it happened. Then, to bed.

Enjoy your life. Capture snapshots along the way, but above all, enjoy the perfection of each imperfect, glorious, nitpicking, awesome, everyday little moment.