Archive for February, 2008

GAS, again.

Day 359

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

Another haircut, this one’s not nearly as screwed up as the last two were. Lately I’ve had another majore flare up of what I like to call Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This, of course, impacts a wide number of things I enjoy: photography, guitar, motorcycling, marksmanship/hunting. To date, I think the single largest GAS flare up was clearly photography related, costing some $12k when it was all said and done. The second most rapidly growing tab would definitely go to my motorcycle, but that is largely due to the cost of a brand new motorcycle. I’d say guns and guitars are about neck and neck, they’ve both certainly been major interests of mine for long enough.

Some folks might look at my collection of guns, or guitars – and wonder what the heck I could possibly do with so many of either. My answer is simple – use them. I don’t own a single guitar I don’t play, or a single amplifier I don’t use. All of my pistols are shot as often as possible, ditto my rifles. $2300 custom 1911 to $70 Russian military surplus rifle, they all get used.

Anyhow, this latest resurfacing of GAS is on the firearms train again. Somehow, I’ve managed to go over two years without purchasing a single firearm! On one hand, I’m well outfitted already with what I have. Hunting rifle? Check. Plinker? Check. Varmint control? Check. “Combat Handgun”? Only the best. Compact CCW pistol? Accurate, inexpensive, and made in the USA. What’s missing then? Practically speaking, probably not a single thing, but who is really concerned with practicality anymore?

I greatly enjoy handloading my own ammunition, and the .308 Winchester case provides a lovely platform for a variety of calibers. Sometime in the last few days, I decided why not celebrate that entire family. .243 Winchester was the first centerfire cartridge I ever fired, .260 Remington is a very impressive round, 7mm-08 Remington represents 7mm beauty in a non-magnum short action cartridge, .308 Winchester has long been one of the most popular .30

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

The eclipse was pretty cool. If I’d been thinking about it, I probably would have watched the whole thing while listening to Eclipse by Pink Floyd. It was playing in my head, so that’s all that matters I suppose. Lacking a tripod, I decided to do my best to stabilize my camera for a long exposure using some bleachers, and a few rocks. Worked well enough for my liking, and I got some shots that I like. Of course I’d have preferred to have been able to have the moon larger, but when all you have is a 28mm lens, you’ve gotta come up with something else.

Nearly a year gone by

Day 355

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

The day I loaded up my gear, and first said goodbye to my family for yet another tour in Iraq was almost a solid year ago. A little intervention from Mother Nature, in the form of a tornado, kept me in Georgia a little longer – and made us all say goodbye again. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have mixed feelings about that arrangement.

Hopefully, my time here won’t extend too far beyond the year mark, and my time in the Army afterwards will be equally limited. Right now, I am looking at the middle of two different months as prospective dates for newfound freedom. Should the first of the two come about and see me actually sign out on terminal leave, I’ll be one happy camper. If I have to wait for the second, I won’t be quite as happy, but I won’t let that slow me down.

For a while I’ve been thinking my planned mega-ride around North America will have to wait if I’m not free before July. I’ve officially kicked that possibility out the window. I don’t care if I only have three weeks between signing out on terminal leave and class starting, I’m making my ride. That might mean I don’t get to do it slowly, and take things in as much as I’d like to – but I decided to do the ride, and I’m not letting the Army decide I can’t because they can’t figure out how to get me out sooner than a full year after my contract expired. If it comes down to that, I’m going to blast around the continent 600mi a day. I’ll stop and take photos, get chow, and sleep – but I’ll keep pushing until I’ve clicked off at or near 600mi every single day. Should take right at around two weeks to cover the intended route that way, and severely limit the time I get to spend with people I planned on hanging out with along the way, but I’m still making the trip. Come hell or high water.

mmm food

Day 351

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

mmmm food. I’m stuffed. For lunch I had a double meat, turkey footlong on parmesean oregano, with all the fixins. I consumed it all in probably one minute. I was hungry. Sue me. Later, I played my guitar a little bit, and remembered how much I love noodling along the jazz/blues line. Of course, that just made me miss my Stratocaster, and my plethora of deliciously warm toned tube amps back home. Really though, for the jazz/blues line, I can’t beat one of my Dad’s old Gibsons plugged straight into the oldest of my amps.

One day, I’ll post a similar photo, but I’ll be full of elk, moose, or something else freakin’ huge and delicious. Since I’ll actually be home for all of hunting season this year, if you have land, or know someone with land that wouldn’t mind me hunting on it – shoot me an email. I’m far from rich enough to afford a lease.

Slam it in a door

Day 347

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

Usually, anytime I have to reference an Army Regulation, I get the urge to slam my head in a door several times. Right now, I’m hoping I can get all the documents and approval required to voluntarily separate from the Army when I redeploy, sooner than my current leave savings will allow. Chapter 5-16, AR 635-200 holds the key – Early Separation for Higher Education. Should I fail to succeed in receiving that chapter, I’m going to have the pleasure of exiting the Army, going to orientation, registering for classes, finding a job, buying a house, and moving into that house in the span of about two weeks. Should be a blast!

Weeping for America

Well, the glimmer of hope I once held for the 2008 election seems to have faded away. Somehow, the voting public has been convinced to throw their support (and ultimately the future of America) at the feet of those with absolutely no record of either caring about the public, or the Constitution. To be certain, they all talk the talk, but on paper (and in fact) they do not walk the walk. Of the entire field of candidate, everyone speaks volumes about how spending needs to be cut – yet only one man has managed to even run his campaign without incurring mountains of debt. That man did not win a single state on Super Tuesday.

Along the same vein, several candidates have said in one breath that they would return fiscal responsibility to Washington, and in the next praised some brilliant social plan that would ultimately cost hundreds of billions of dollars to implement. Perhaps it is my tiny infantry brain that keeps me from comprehending this, but if we have no money (on the positive end of the scale) – where exactly will the funds for these social plans come from? Surely a champion of fiscal responsibility would not dare suggest incurring additional debt for these plans, yet no one favors raising taxes either. There are probably dozens of accounting frauds in prison dying to know the secret to producing billions from thin air.

In short, I am truly concerned for the future of the United States of America. This concern comes not from a threat by cowardly foreign enemies, but from the domestic variety that have chipped away at the foundation of this country for far too long, with far too little opposition. From where I stand, I have no choice but to work towards trading in my SGT for a REP or a SEN. It is clear enough that supporting and defending the Constitution, as I am sworn to do, is going to require more sacrifice on my part – and an eventual run for public office. That’s a heady charge to make, and of course assumes there is anything left to defend when I finish school.

CNN Republican Debate

After having the opportunity to actually watch the recent CNN Republican Presidential Debate, it is time once more for me to exercise one of the freedoms I am sworn to preserve, and give my take on the whole thing. Granted, in a debate hosted by a far left “news” network, and headed by none other than the ultra-liberal Anderson Cooper, there was not much room for the freedom of speech on stage today. Mention the very document which clearly gives all persons that freedom, and there was a good chance you would be cut off from speaking entirely. At least if you happened to be a Congressman from Texas.

Typical to each debate I have watched, balance was nowhere to be found, either in the questions or the time given to various candidates to answer those questions. Instead of giving the voting public the opportunity to hear clear, uninterrupted, and direct answers to serious topics, the questions were again catered to whomever the network pundits have declared frontrunners. In short, this debate could have easily been called “The McCain and Romney Show!” More on that later.

The very first question posed to all four candidates asked for an opinion as to American’s being better off now, than eight years ago – before President Bush. In keeping with his long standing tradition, Mitt Romney responded by recounting for the umpteenth time his record as a governor. Despite being directly requested to clarify his position, in terms of the greater national public, Romney continued to dodge the question, and focus on his record as governor. On the same question, John McCain declared that yes indeed we Americans are better off today than we were in eight years ago. McCain went as far as to begin enumerating positive changes brought forth in the Republican Congress, but was cut short by an all-too predictable interruption by Cooper. Apparently even the possibility that someone could make such an assertion, and even begin to offer the grounds on which said claim is founded, was far too shocking for Cooper to remain silent.

In response to the same question, both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul stated we were definitely not better off today than we were eight years ago. Huckabee acknowledged that there is a significant slice of America is economically hurting, and went on to say that without serious leadership touching all people, things would not start to get better. Ron Paul emphatically stated that we were certainly not better off, and placed the blame for our current economic crisis on years of unsound economic and foreign policies in Washington. Paul went on to explain, surprisingly without interruption, the long road we have taken toward this low point, and the poor monetary policy that drove the vehicle for crisis.

Half of the candidates feel we are better off for whatever reason, and the other half does not. From where I stand, I’m inclined to agree with the two who commented to the negative. Anyone unable to see the present economic plight, is either too rich to care, or dead. Everyone else is simply lying to themselves. Assuming you can comprehend the fundamental law of sound economics – that no matter how much you spend, it can not exceed how much you make – it should be alarmingly clear to you that our present federal expenditure is in gross violation of economic principles many of us first learned in the candy aisle of a 7-11. Simply put, Congress must trim the mountainous excess from its appropriations bills, unless of course national bankruptcy is something to which the voters of America have given consent. Whoever takes the Oath of Office on January 20, 2009, they absolutely need to be committed to real fiscal responsibility.

“The McCain and Romney Show” begins here, with another left-wing publication asking Romney why he feels McCain is a liberal, despite their assessment that his record is strongly that of a mainstream conservative. Romney and McCain traded verbal punches, insults, and refuted the merits of one another’s “facts”. At some point, Huckabee entered the picture to chime in as the true conservative among the group. How such behavior is tolerable in any form of debate, especially one between persons wishing to be the President of the United States of America, is beyond me completely. I suppose there are just some things a lowly soldier like myself just can not comprehend.

Four questions into the event, another question is finally posed on a real issue – one grounded in the Constitution itself – and is given to each candidate for input. That question, initially asked to McCain, centered on State’s rights. Specifically, McCain was questioned as to his position regarding the Governator’s (sorry, I couldn’t resist) request to allow California to enact and enforce emissions and other environmental policies far more stringent than those of the federal government. As these debates are surely available on YouTube by now, I will spare you the lengthy answers of each candidate, and simply state that all four spoke in favor of State’s rights, as well as alternative energy, and protecting the environment. The general consensus seemed to be that even if mankind is not to responsible for changing climatic trends, the worst that could happen as a result of reducing human pollution would be a cleaner world for our children.

The above is of major importance, for two key reasons. First, each candidate made a clear and direct answer aligning themselves with the Constitution of the United States, specifically acknowledging the right of each State to make their own policies. Secondly, despite Democrats’ rhetoric to the contrary, Republican candidates both care about the environment, and wish to ensure we leave the best planet we can for future generations. It seems some would be well served to remember where the entire idea of conservation started.

The remainder of the debate largely focused on the economy, and the war in Iraq. At least when McCain and Romney weren’t one-upping each other in the dirty politics game. Well, honestly, even when they were one-upping each other, that was still the focus. Every candidate stood the course of their campaign, and I’m not sure anyone’s minds have been changed as a result. For my money, Ron Paul is still the man. When allowed to actually speak, he well stated the things this country needs to return to the greatness we once enjoyed. Namely, fiscal responsibility, and responsible foreign policy. You know, the sorts of things the GOP once stood for.

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