Tuesday, March 29, 2011


If you're not into shooting and reloading, you might not understand this. 

I'm a fairly serious shooter, or rather I have been.  Life has significantly intervened, and I haven't been able to go shooting for a while.  Since my funds are somewhat limited, and I need to do SOMETHING shooting related, I am going to get back into reloading.

I had been reloading for a few years.  I was introduced by my uncle, but I think I kind of upset him.  What took him about 20 years of work to grasp, I understood in a day or so.  That particular uncle isn't particularly bright.

Anyway.  I had been reloading rather avidly, then something important happened.  I fell in love and got married.  I moved, then I moved again.  I left my reloading setup in my parents' house, but I didn't really have time or energy to devote to it. It kind of got buried, when my wife and I stored some of our stuff in the same room.  When my job went away, we had to move back in, and even more stuff went wherever I could put it.

Now I'm needing to get back into it, even if I don't have the time to go shooting now, or the money to get a range membership.  I can at least do something shooting related.

Since I left my reloading table as it was the last time I finished using it,  I thought I would share some insights.  Finish whatever you were doing before you stop, and put it away with understandable labels.

Let me share with you how I found my reloading table when I unburied it:

I found a powder trickeler full of an unidentified powder.  I don't remember what I was reloading last, so that powder is basically useless.   I'm pretty sure it's IMR 4732, but that is only based on its look, and where my powder measure was set.  I'm not willing to bet my life on it.  That means over 300 grains of powder just went down the drain.  On the plus side, I hear it's good fertilizer.

I found 2 #10 cans partially full of brass. I'm pretty sure I was doing some sort of process on a batch of brass, but I can't remember the process, or which can was the ones I was finished with vs. the ones I wss going to work on. I had various tools everywhere.  It was a mess.

While I don't really need to buy anything new, I might as well be starting over.  I have to take all of my brass and separate it out.  I have to get a bunch of new containers to store it in, and make sure everything is labeled.

I can only be thankful that nothing was rusty, or degraded in any other way.  Even my scale was still pretty close to being zeroed.

The moral of this story?  Even though most reloading equipment is of extremely good quality compared to most consumer goods, that can't keep you from all of your problems. Keep your reloading area clean and organized.  ALWAYS put your powder away, and if you can't finish a batch of something, label it.  Say what you were doing, and which stack was done and which one was not. Even masking tape and sharpie will work for that.  Finally if you can, clean up and store your supplies BEFORE you stop using them for an extended period of time.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Yardwork Time

It's amazing how a little maturity, and some desperation can make things that were previously tortuously dull, interesting.   

I live on a half acre of property, and I'm pretty sure we're headed for a financial collapse, and I don't think were going to be allowed to do much to actually own anything in the near future, I'm getting into gardening.

Throughout my life I've hated yardwork and gardening.  My parents tried to force me to get interested in it, but I never would.  It wasn't technological, it was boring.

I no longer feel I have an option.  We have a large garden spot, and when the ground dries out, and we can get the grass killed, we will till up a much larger section.

We've begun planting fruit trees, and doing spring yard cleanup as well. We have access to flood irrigation, so we're moving dirt around to keep the water where we want it, and we've set up a supplementary watering system to keep the garden watered when the irrigation water is not available.

I am also working on bigger plans.  I'm looking at beekeeping, and even a greenhouse.  Keeping chickens would be good too. 

If I have access to the land, I want to use it to make myself as independent as possible. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

I've had experience with this


Over the years, I've learned that Dilbert isn't really a comic strip. It's more of a documentary.

At the university I worked for, while it was not specifically stated, we were basically to get approval for all activity participated in outside of work. If your extracurricular activities did not meet their approval (some of these included such things as attending an unapproved church, or starting a relationship with a blacklisted individual) they began to try to force that person out. If the mistreatment didn't either get the person to change their life to meet the boss' approval, or quit, charges for firing would be trumped up.

I knew this was happening long before I got fired. I committed several serious betrayals. I took part in a case of whistleblowing, when they fired the whistleblower (since she was a student employee, and at will, they could fire her without saying why), I took her side and tried to help her. Finally I committed the ultimate betrayal. I married her.

They, of course couldn't let that stand. Seven months after I married her (and we went to some significant lengths to hide our relationship from them), they fired me.

As they went through the process of firing me, my department director had a meeting with me to "determine if there was a way I could be returned to work". It was a part of the state mandated appeal process for all classified state employees. I recorded that meeting.

When he determined that he would fire me (he's the one that made the decision anyway), he had to submit it to the university vice president. In that letter, he outright lied, and I had the recording to prove it.

I appealed further, and nearly all of the charges against me were thrown out. Only one remained. One suspicious thing however. The hearing officer delivered his decision two weeks later than he said he would. It made me wonder if there were some sort of coercion going on.

I wanted to appeal further, but that would have required at least another $5000, and I just didn't have it. Of course, since the hearing officer only had the authority to put me back to the same position, I'd pretty much decided that I didn't want to go back to work for such an abusive place.

In the end, I'm happier not working for them. Of course, I'm not through dealing with them. I've managed to collect some evidence that they are actively trying to prevent me from getting another job. I don't have enough to prove it, but some interviewers have asked me some interesting questions.

In truth, as one of my collected quotes says. "I realized recently that my personal happiness and sanity are worth far more than anything an employer can pay me, and that nothing is worth that twisting feeling you get in your gut every morning as you drag yourself out of bed and to a job you can't stand."
-- MC Langston

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm Getting My Confidence Back. Part 2

Some time ago, I wrote that I was getting my confidence back.  It is interesting, but it's still true and, this time, I've realized something interesting.  I am a substitute teacher, and I am doing well, despite having zero training to be a teacher.  OK, the kids sometimes walk over me, but that is how it works with subs. The thing is, I don't often get called in on the carpet for anything, and I am working most every day. I maintain decent classroom discipline, and generally follow the lesson plan (when there is one).

It was noted last night that a substitute teaching job is healing me.  A job that is widely considered one of the most thankless and unfortunate jobs available, a job in which I receive daily abuse at the hands of near feral children, a job that barely pays me minimum wage, a job that has me essentially on call during school hours, a job for which I have no training, is somehow healing me.

This raises the question, if being a substitute teacher is healing me, making me feel better about myself and about the world in general, and has has erased the constant stress and anxiety about going to work, how bad was my previous job? 

I really can't say, because I was in that environment for so long and, until now, that's how jobs seemed to be.  My boss was someone I once had respect for, and who I had considered an ally.  I was wrong.  I will be very careful with whom I ally myself again.

What I can say is that I am happier now than I ever have been in any job.  I wish substitute teaching paid well enough I could make a living, however I have discovered something very interesting.  I enjoy the "difficult" classes.  I taught at an alternate school today.  The kids were problematic, but I seem to be able to make them respond.  On several other occasions I've taught regular special ED, or resource room.  It is for the slightly slower kids. Again, I've enjoyed it. Strangely though, what I enjoy most is the DLP or Developmental Learning Program. Or the program for children with severe mental deficiencies.  Some are severely autistic, some have other issues.  Some are basically infants with teenage bodies. It is very difficult work, but somehow very rewarding.   I'm thinking seriously of applying for the position.of an aide in the program.  It doesn't pay much, but it does get benefits, and I would feel good about the work.

No matter what, I'm glad I'm through with that university.