Friday, June 29, 2007

Borrowed from Marko

If you can read German, click here.

Fourth Branch

I just wanted to say that (1) Vice President Cheney is an idiot;
(2) He doesn't understand- or deliberately ignores- the Constitution.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Near Miss

Monday evening I was listening to The Cure while tooling along in my new Grand Am. As I crossed Riverwatch Parkway, a VW Beetle started to turn in front of me. I honked my horn, and then, as the Beetle actually turned, my instant mental replay gave me an image of green turn signals. I was arrowing through a busy intersection at fifty miles an hour, and I had just run a red light.

I swerved to my left to dodge the Beetle, immediately punching the accelerator and swerving again to dart into the nearest turn lane ahead of the full-size SUV that was turning. I made it, but god, was I embarrassed!

Friend Byron says he'd rather be lucky than good, but I prefer good. I'll take lucky in a pinch, though.

Monday, June 25, 2007

D. Hoskins is a good man

I was finally able to talk to him again two days ago. D. had told me that he had sent me a knife along with my ax, by way of apology for the delay. When I excitedly picked up the box from the post office, I was astounded to find not only a combat-style knife, but a beautifully ornate Damascus blade, as well.

I was afraid that perhaps the Damascus piece had been sent to me accidentally, and so, was afraid to mention it, but D. assures me that he sent it to me not only because of the delay, but because he appreciated my service overseas.

There's nothing you can really say about that, except a humble thanks.

Here are some pictures Derek Zeanah was kind enough to take for me. I have also added D's new website to my links, along with On Scene Tactical's Speed Dialer.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Yesterday Jordy and I went to the wedding of one of her friends. It was an outdoor wedding, held in the early afternoon, and we all gratefully adjoined to the cooled reception area afterward. A fairly recent idea for some special events is to leave cameras around for the guests to photograph some of the proceedings, thereby giving a much more diverse view later. This wedding had several such cameras, and Jordy encouraged me to take some pictures with one. I took a couple.

"Here, let me take a picture of you," she said.
"They don't know me. A picture of me won't mean anything to them. Let's get a picture taken of us together."
I handed the camera to another guest and requested a picture. Jordy and I were in the picture, along with a man who appeared to be a first-generation immigrant from Africa.

After the picture, the man turned and looked at me intently. Then it began.

"You. You're a preacher, or you have preachers in your line." His eyes were fixed on me. "You've been through so much, but you're full of such love. Don't fight it.
You're going to bring so many people to Jesus."
Uh-oh. He continued in this vein for perhaps four straight minutes, mentioning that I had been through hell for about the past four years, and that in fact I had experienced a difficult life, but that I was going to do such great things.
"You've been having dreams, strange dreams, lately. You'll understand them. You are like John the Baptist, going before the Lord..."

I looked at him wordlessly, clasped his shoulder, and Jordy and I walked away. After we stepped through to the screened patio, she whispered to me: "Well, he got a few of of the details wrong..."

I turned to her after we sat down. "I think there's something that some people have, and they probably call it different things based on their beliefs. It's really all the same thing, though."

This is probably the fourth time someone has gone off on me in a similar fashion, not always saying exactly the same thing, but there are a few constants: love; challenge; potential.

Well, heck, we all have those.

I saw the man before I left. "I'll see you, man of god," he said. "Don't fight it."

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I've been looking for another vehicle. This must be an easier task if one has abundant funds and doesn't care if you're actually getting a reasonable value.

After looking at various cars, and a few trucks and SUVs (Jordy hated the Jeep Cherokee), I bought an '01 Grand Am (Jordy loved it). I wasn't overly enthused with it, but after picking it up, I'm becoming increasingly happy. I hope that continues.

The car that I borrowed to use while searching for another vehicle has finally been repaired from its unfortunate collision with a loaded hotel luggage cart. A bad and stressful experience all around, but I'm supposed to receive some AR lowers in payment for my repair costs. I trust the friends that receive the lowers will be happy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kisses and Rings

I think this is a great image, despite the fact that I'm in it.

Memes. Sheesh.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Yes. My middle name comes from a family friend. He, of course, after a career as a fisherman and preacher, became addicted to pornography, and divorced his wife of 16 years or so.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? I dunno, but I tear up fairly frequently. As in on weekly basis, perhaps.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No. I typically print, but I'm pretty sure there's a reason God invented word processing programs. I prefer to type anything I can.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Peanut butter- without hydrogenated oil, of course.
Excellent with crispy lettuce on good toasted bread.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Give me time.


DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I heard once that "Sarcasm is a weapon of the weak." I usually work to control how much sarcasm I use.


WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Is there money involved?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I like taking disgustingly sweet cereals and sprinkling raw oatmeal on them.


DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Fairly. I'm a hobbit, though, so take that into consideration.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Hard one. Not anything overly sticky sweet. I like green tea ice cream, mango, most Ben and Jerry''s hard to find ice cream I don't like.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? How they carry themselves. Probably what they do with their eyes next.

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My continual battle between my obsessive control impulse and self-indulgence.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? I don't know, really. I try to make the most of the time I've got, with those I care about. I'm most surprised that my father's not still around. That was unexpected.

WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Um, badly ripped black silk shorts. No shoes.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A feta and chicken Pizza Joint slice slathered with El Yucateco green habanero sauce.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Nothing. Actually, my friend Russell.


FAVORITE SMELLS? Skin. Some people just smell right, like nature's marked them out for you. No, not arousal, just natural skin smell.



HAIR COLOR[S]? Light brown.



FAVORITE FOOD? Sushi. Pizza. Grilled food and barbecue.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? "I'm all about the happy endings." I'm quoting Tamara, but it's exactly what I would have said. Yeah, I'm a sap.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? I watched "Knocked Up" last night. Funny yet sensitive to the issues. Don't watch if you're sensitive to vulgarity.


SUMMER OR WINTER? Fall. I love fall. Delicious days and nights made for snuggling.

HUGS OR KISSES? I love hugs, but good kisses are great.

FAVORITE DESSERT? I like fruity things and moist breads.

MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Holly, probably.

LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Hm. Lawdog or myself. Wait, I can't respond to myself! Scratch the latter.


WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? "An Army of One". It's Russell's, though.


FAVORITE SOUND[S]? Good music. The laugh of a lover. A bird's song on a beautiful morning.



DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Yes. I can find information. I love it.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Alabama. I escaped at 21.

WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? I have no expectations, but surprise me. :-)

Poster, Posting

I know I haven't posted much lately, and I apologize. I've been busy looking for cars and lodging, moving things, applying for programs, applying for jobs- you get the idea.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll hope the words are good ones, and I'll hope the pictures might make up for my decreased verbiage of late. Here's yours truly.

(We kept looking for ineffective tools.
John: "Here's a hammer..."
Tamara: "No, that's too much like something someone who was serious might use."
John: "Oh, here's an e-tool!"
Tamara: "No, again, that's kind of a serious tool."
Oleg: "John, the problem with you is, you usually look like you're going to kill them no matter what you're holding!" )

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fiddleback Forge

Andy Roy is a good man and a good friend. He started making knives as a hobby, and now makes both ground and forged knives. When I visited him earlier this week, he showed me something I thought everyone could use, whether preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse, or just keeping up with survival chic.

These fire starters just need a thick piece of steel to strike against, and Andy makes them in a variety of tough and attractive woods like ironwood and teak. $30 shipped. If you want one, drop Andy a line at aproy(at)

Something I have to post

though posting it makes me feel nerdy...(at least I don't understand it!)


My posts might be picture heavy for the next few days. Here's Mike Crenshaw and custom knife maker Kim Breed. I've been talking to Kim for several years, and he did a pat-down to verify I had returned with most parts intact.

In this picture of Jordy and I at the Show, I look like I can barely contain my happiness. Fair enough.

Friday, June 15, 2007


hawk, that is. Picked up from USPS today. It has both a blade cover and sheath. More

Home Again?

Jordy and I have arrived safely back in Augusta. Thanks to Oleg and Andy and Leah for their hospitality, and Frank for all the assistance.

I'm going to be trying to nail down a place to stay and find wheels for the next couple of days, but I should be able to post some pictures soon. Stay tuned, kids!

In the meantime, here's a pic of Jordy and I.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oleg and Tamara

After arriving in Nashville very, very late (or extremely early), I finally reached my great friend Oleg's place. A bonus was that Tamara was also visiting, and local friend
Frank was kind enough to not only show up, but to help me with a few gun-related projects over the next couple of days.

Besides seeing my friends, I was also happy to be able to pick up a hunting rifle Frank, a firearms dealer, had been holding for me. I should have pictures soon.

There are few things as joyful as reunions with good friends. Perhaps the fates will see me living in TN at some point in the future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Jordy and I helped a very large distributor at the Blade Show in Atlanta Thursday through Saturday. Jordy had never been to one before, and I was a little concerned that she might be stressed and somewhat bored. There probably were some moments of boredom, but we both had fun, despite being extremely busy almost the entire time.

At the Show, I got a chance to see Kim Breed and John Greco again, and introduce Jordy to them. I also was able to see some of my friends from the Himalayan Imports forum, and a few other friends. Jordy learned very rapidly, and despite working with hundreds of knives, only received one tiny prick from an automatic knife that she said "literally jumped out of the box at me!"

There were so many knives at our booth, they couldn't fit into six display cases! As we began selling some knives, I was finally able to pull out all of the Spyderco knives, price them, and put them in the case. I can't help being enthusiastic about these knives: not only do they have great steel, ergonomic design, and fair prices, but they're sold by friendly people. I sold a lot of them, because I know a good bit about the line, and I can honestly say I've used them in some difficult situations.

I finally found D. Hoskin's table Saturday. He had an ax that he built for me, a really nifty looking piece that somehow manages to look both "tactical" and medieval at the same time. I stepped up to the table with a smile.
"Mr. Hoskins, do you know where I could find a good tommyhawk?"
He smiled back.
"I sure do- and this one's yours!"

He told me to take the ax, but since he was here at the Show, I left it with him, so he could keep showing it until the end. He didn't come back to the show Sunday, but he did call me this morning to apologize for leaving without giving me the 'hawk, and explain he had an emergency back at home that had required him. He's already sent the 'hawk out, and included a knife because making the ax took so long! Good people.

Sunday afternoon, my friend Doug D. came to the Show. It was great to see him, and after the Show closed, he spent the next five hours helping us pack knives, and move display cases. After dinner, Jordy and I headed for Nashville, fortunately arriving alive.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


The brightly colored "Welcome Home, John" banner, subjected to wind and rain, has gone the way of all flesh and paper. I'll always remember it, though.

I have applied for a Master's of Arts in Teaching program at ASU. It doesn't seem like I'll have any problem being accepted.

Jordy and I are headed to Atlanta soon. We'll be helping at a Blade Show booth, and then visiting friend Oleg for a few days. Y'all don't worry if you don't hear from me; I'm just fine.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

SciFi Randomness

Your results:
You are Deanna Troi

Deanna Troi
Jean-Luc Picard
Mr. Sulu
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Beverly Crusher
Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Geordi LaForge
Mr. Scott
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

I'm going to claim my excuse is that some of my friends did it first...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Wheels Down

After arriving in Kuwait, we mostly waited for three days. There were long lines everywhere: for the phones, for the MWR computers, for meals, for McDonald's and Pizza Hut...and I can vouch for the fact that Joe will stand in line for McDonald's, especially if it's been months since he's had any! The waiting was made a little more bearable by the many MWR game systems and TVs set up for individual movie watching. I also got in a good workout, staying mindful of my lesson learned on 6 March: don't push too close to muscle failure! I was afraid I would have to lug my three duffel bags, black box, and assault pack carry-on through a few large airports.

Finally, on the night of 23 May, we dragged all our luggage down to wait for the customs inspections. It amazes me to see some of the bone-headed things service members have attempted to take home, like rocket propelled grenades. I personally had none of these things, but I was lugging along a personally owned upper receiver I'd used on my M4. Practically every soldier who'd seen me with it, and noticed it wasn't stock, had assured me I would have trouble bringing it back to the US. When I had mentioned it to the C CO supply sergeant, he had told me, "You will not tell them that (the truth). You will tell them that the lower receiver was damaged, and so, you're taking the upper back for me."
With this in mind, every time on the way back someone would ask, "Hey, why do you have-", I would answer, "The supply sergeant said..." The funny thing is, no-one in Customs asked me about it, which is fine, since legally, it is no more a firearm than the (also personally owned) scope and buttstock I brought back with me.

After having customs rummage through everything of mine- which somehow ended up packed more efficiently, for the first time ever- we waited a few more hours, and then took our buses out to the flight line. We climbed aboard our ATA 737, and headed home on the morning of the 24th.

After flying out of Kuwait, our first stop for fuel was in Hungary. We were not allowed to deplane because of a lack of sufficient security, but I still eagerly drank in the orderly green fields and civilized look of the houses beneath us, so very different than the shabby, filthy, parched land I had just left. Our next stop was in Ireland.

Ireland is green, my favorite color, the green of lush fields of grass and sturdy trees. It is also very obviously a wet place, and as we dropped towards the runway, there was so much moisture in the air, I could see the small trails of turbulence from our lowered flaps. We were reminded by our attendants of our two drink limit. Those of us who actually care about such things (most probably just cheerfully broke the "limit" without consideration) were reminded of the injunction of Sergeant Major Connelly (showing surprising deliberation) and General Pritt, that the "limit" was really a "don't get stupid" limit, and we could drink whatever we could handle without incident.

I was near the back of the plane, and by the time I "range walked" (nonmilitary might call this speed walking) through the terminal, I was still faced with a long line of soldiers waiting to buy two drinks from the bar. I thought. And I looked around, noticing that to my side was a store holding lots of cheerfully waiting bottles. Easy enough- I headed for the duty-free store.
I was about halfway to the store, when a soldier gleefully informed me that there were free samples of whiskey being given out inside- and so there were.

Now, if you took over a hundred and twenty mostly youthful, rambunctious soldiers, deprived them of alcohol for a year in a stressful environment(except perhaps for two weeks of vacation), and then dropped them into an environment with free liquor, you *might* have a problem, don't you think? For myself, I enjoyed some Irish whiskey, and a wee dram of Carolan's, and picked up a bottle of Irish Mist to take back to the States. I then went and bought a single glass of Scrumpy Jack cider, and returned to the airplane, to be sure our weapons guard had been given a chance to get off the plane.
As I walked, I thought fondly of the welcome I saw from the Irish in the brief moments I'd had to talk to them, of their concern for our safety and their cheerful friendliness. Someone else had already relieved our guard, so I just found my seat and watched everyone straggle back. There were no incidents.

We touched down again briefly in Canada, and then finally landed in Colorado. There was a line of brass waiting to greet us, and a couple of guys from McDonald's handing out Quarter Pounders. I smiled and shook the hands of those waiting for us, but couldn't keep the tears from my eyes before reaching the end of the line.

Colorado was a flurry of turn-ins and briefings, some of them infuriating. We were forced to watch a video about "battle mind", in which a squeaky-voiced Lieutenant Colonel had the audacity to solemnly advise us that carrying or keeping a loaded weapon as a civilian was wrong. That went over well with a group of Oklahoma boys!

I turned in my field gear, and late on the afternoon of the 27th, was told I was flying back to Georgia at 0650 the next morning. I called Jordy, asked if she was back in town, and when she said she was, said, "What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?" She gasped.

I'm back. I haven't taken the many good things in my life for granted for years, but I suppose you can never deeply appreciate just how good life here is until you see what life is like in truly desperate places.

Warts and all, I'm damn proud to be an American.