When a Stranger Calls II: Medicares for Everyone!

I received a mysterious phone call from someone calling themselves “Vicky” this evening. The call was in broken Spanish, and had something to do with Medicare (presumably to phish for my personal and financial information).

Unfortunately for Vicky, I don’t speak Spanish, so I told her, “No habla!”

At this point she switched to Engrish, but after about 30 seconds disconnected the call… so I called her back.

“Vicky! I need to know all about the medicares!”
<hangs up again>
<ring ring>
“Hello?”
“Vicky!”
“coño de la madre…” (I’m pretty sure this means, ‘How do you do, sir?’)
“I care about Medicare! I need to know all the things. Things like whether or not my root beer flavored Flintstones vitamin gummies are covered?? This is important stuff, Vicky…”
<hangs up again>

If Vicky didn’t want to communicate verbally, I figured the only other way to get through to her would be to use the Universal Language (i.e. spam her with text messages of Dick Butt)…After about 5 minutes of this, the number stopped accepting messages…

I’ll never know who Vicky is, who she was trying to reach or what she wanted… But I do know that’s one phone number she won’t be using to do it!

Mission Accomplished! Now all I need to do wait for James Veitch to confirm my induction into the Scam the Scammer Hall of Fame…

any minute now

Post-Modern Prognosticators: 27 Things I Learned From Watching Demolition Man

…I’m the enemy. Cause I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I’m the kind if guy who wants to sit in a greasy spoon and think, “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I want high cholesterol. I want to eat bacon, butter and buckets of cheese, okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in a non-smoking section. I wanna run through the streets naked with green Jello all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to. Okay, pal? I’ve seen the future, you know what it is? It’s a 47-year-old virgin sittin’ around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake singing, “I’m an Oscar-Meyer Wiener.”
– Edgar Friendly, 2032

In 1993, the cinematic masterpiece, “Demolition Man” made some predictions about what life might be like in the future. It didn’t occur to 27-years-younger me just how accurate those predictions would be… without further adieu, here’s 27 things I learned from watching Demolition Man:

  1. If you’re short on toilet paper, just violate the verbal morality statue!
  2. If you live in a socialist utopia, homeless people will steal all your food
  3. Taco Bell will be the only restaurant to survive the Franchise Wars
  4. John Spartan doesn’t know how to use the Three Sea Shells (I could see where that might be confusing)
  5. Burning buildings are a good indicator that bad guys are nearby
  6. Police are no longer equipped to handle this level of violence

    Behind me is Simon Phoenix’s lair in what appears to be a mostly peaceful protest.
  7. We shouldn’t ask where the meat comes from…
  8. Rat burgers aren’t bad…
  9. In fact, you should be out there hunting rats instead of begging for vegan meat-alternatives (you can thank me later)
  10. Don’t face-time naked unless you’re sure you are calling the right number
  11. Commercials will infiltrate every popular media. Today you can pay to opt out, tomorrow it will be compulsory, and you’ll learn to like it!
  12. Social distancing stops the spread of STDs, the hunka-chunka and other recreational activities
  13. Sandra Bullock enjoys VR sex (presumably with hot anime girls, but will make an exception for John Spartan)
  14. In the future, all meetings will be video conference screens staring at other video conference screens
  15. Wait a minute, this is the future, where are all the phaser guns?
  16. Cars drive themselves (into walls, people and oncoming traffic)
  17. You are an incredibly sensitive man, who inspires joy-joy feelings in all those around you
  18. In the future, there is no more sarcasm
  19. Accusing the savior of your city of being in league with a multi-murder-death-killer is rude
  20. Sewers smell like biscuits ‘n gravy
  21. To catch a multiple murder-death-killer, you just wait around for him to kill another person so you’ll know exactly where to pounce!
  22. John Spartan likes the Chief’s plan
  23. Cocteau reminds Wesley Snipes of an Evil Mr. Rogers
  24. Sylvester Stallone is neither a blow-up-the-bad-guy-with-a-happy-grin-he-man type nor a moody-troubled-past-gunslinger-who-only-draws-when-he-must type
  25. I forgot to say, “Simon Says!”
  26. When you come out of cryo-prison, the first thing you’ll want to do is knit
  27. You can’t take away people’s right to be assholes!

…A Few More Words…

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the anniversary of when it all went down.

There have been a lot of new and exciting changes in my life, things I’ve working for and toward for many years are starting to come to fruition. Success is something to be proud of, to enjoy, to look forward to. This seems (to me) to be the natural order of things but that just isn’t true for everyone.

Some people fear success – are terrified of it in fact. They don’t believe they deserve it, they don’t think they can hold on to it – it makes them feel vulnerable;  the more you have the more that can be taken away.

When he first told me about how he burned his school laptop in a bonfire, I assumed this was a triumphant middle finger to the establishment he’d grown disillusioned with. I never recognized it for what it really was – an offering to Damocles, and a cry for help…

“Take a puppy, abuse him, kick him, mistreat him – he’ll revert to feral carnivore. That his litter brother, pet him, talk to him, let him sleep with you, but train him – he’s a happy, well-behaved house pet.

Take another from the same litter, pet him on even days, kick him on odd days. You’ll have him so confused that he’ll be ruined for either role; he can’t survive as a wild animal and he doesn’t understand what is expected of a pet. Pretty soon he won’t eat, he won’t sleep, he can’t control his functions; he just cowers and shivers.”

– Robert Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy

I began writing this post over a year ago. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what happened to the friend I’d lost track of – all I knew was that he was in a bad place, and there was nothing more I could do to help him. I felt angry, bitter and betrayed. In fairness, he wasn’t the first person to make a fuck out of me… and probably won’t be the last – good-natured people are often taken advantage of.

###

In time, that anger gave way to reason. I reminded myself that mistakes are how we learn… or don’t. In any case, they give you pause for thought. It’s not my place to dictate to anyone what they should or shouldn’t do with their life. Everyone has the right to go to hell in their own way. All one can do, all anyone can do, is the best they can.

“…Mate, go do what you gotta do.”
– Sassy the Sasquatch

I Remember

I remember when…

  • I learned that life wasn’t fair
  • I lived a rich life, in my own mind
  • Anything was possible (and nothing was possible)
  • My days were filled with adventure
  • My nights were filled with dreams of what might be
  • I had nothing, and neither realized it nor cared

I remember. I remember when…

  • I lived in a country without freedom of speech, religion or expression
  • I was asked if I spoke English
  • I was picked on for being the ‘American’ kid when I lived abroad
  • I was picked on for being the ‘Foreign’ kid when I came back to the US
  • I believed in God (and other fairy tales)
  • There was magic in the world

I remember! I remember when…

  • I stopped believing in God
  • Phones weren’t mobile
  • Pictures you took had to be developed before you could see them
  • I thumbed through ads for computers I lusted after (but couldn’t afford)
  • I dreamed of making video games for a living
  • I had heroes, and longed to be accepted by them

I remember! I remember when…

  • I swam in a cold river with Ducky
  • I rehearsed Shakespeare with my friend at midnight in the park
  • I was young, beautiful, and accepted (by an outcast rabble in the square)
  • I was hassled by the police for looking like a troublemaker
  • I got serious about my music
  • I did hard labor for a pittance, and dreamed of using my mind for a living

I still remember. I remember when…

  • I stopped believing in heroes
  • People were expected to have manners
  • All we had to protest was McDonalds Hot Mustard being discontinued
  • Racism wasn’t fashionable (or profitable)
  • Only villains demanded that people kneel
  • All lives mattered

I remember.

The Nature of the Scorpion

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

There’s an old fable that tells of scorpion that begs a frog for a ride across the river. The frog replies, “if I give you a ride on my back, you’ll sting me!”

The scorpion assures him, “if I sting you, we’ll both drown!”

The frog accepts this as logical, and agrees to take him across the river on his back. About half way there, the frog feels a sharp pain, and his legs go numb – they both begin to sink.

“Why did you do it?” asked the frog, “Now we’ll both die!”

“I couldn’t help it,” replied the scorpion, “it’s in my nature!”

###

In other variations, the frog is replaced with a fox. Perhaps this was to illustrate that even a creature as clever and resourceful as a fox is not immune to the cruel indifference of nature.

A modern retelling has the fox place the scorpion on the end of his snout where he can keep an eye on him, flinging him off at the moment he raises his stinger. Interesting, but I think it misses the point (pun intended); The fox learns no lesson and instead, confirms only what he already knew to be true.

The last variation of the story replaces the scorpion’s fellow traveler with a tortoise. According Bidpai (as retold by Maude Barrows Dutton):

Halfway across he was startled by a strange rapping on his back, which made him ask the scorpion what he was doing.

“Doing?” answered the scorpion. “I am whetting my sting to see if it is possible to pierce your hard shell.”

“Ungrateful friend,” responded the tortoise, “it is well that I have it in my power both to save myself and to punish you as you deserve.” And straightway he sank his back below the surface and shook off the scorpion into the water.

###

The scorpion pretends to understand logic and can parrot reasoned arguments, but he is and will always be a slave to his nature. Is there any point to being upset at a scorpion for being a scorpion?

The lesson here (if there is one) is this: You can only trust a scorpion to be himself. And if you are going to try help him, you’d better have thick skin.

Black Adder

Naming my black rifle “Black Adder” for one my favorite sitcoms seems obvious when you think about it…It was either that, or Black-Helmet Hot Mustard Slinger, but that felt a bit too forced.

The Procrastinating

I’ve had this rifle for about 2.5 months now, and am just getting around to writing about it. I am blame the potatoes for my lack of initiative…

The Building

Putting the damn thing together wasn’t terrible. I watched a lot of assembly videos beforehand to get a good idea of what I needed to do, then got to work putting it together.

Compared to the AK, the AR is a far more complicated animal with lots of tiny springs, detents, roll pins and other fiddly bits to keep track of. All pieces of the build kit were labeled, which made identifying what went where much, much easier. Kudos to Palmetto State Armory taking the guesswork out of it!

A couple of times during assembly, a spring got loose and went flying across the room, but all in all, it worked out in the end.

The Lubing

I decided to go with Supertech Extreme Pressure Multi-Duty Complex Hi-Temp Grease (say that 3 times fast!):

You can find it in the automotive section of Wally World and other fine purveyors of industrial-strength lubricants. It runs about $4 or so for a 14oz can, which is more than enough to outlast both our new Chinese masters and the Robot Apocalypse combined, three times over!

If it’s good enough for a union of Polish AK operators, it should work just fine for Joe-Jim Q. Public!

The Completing

So here’s how he turned out:

Since the build came in at under $400, I decided to go ahead and splurge on couple of quality of life upgrades:

  • A decent sling (Ferro Concepts Slingster)
  • A couple of Magpul QD sling swivels
  • Magpul ASAP QD (which would also double as a single-point nut slapper)
  • Magpul Sling Mount (M-LOK)
  • Magpul Hand Stop (M-LOK)

The swollen testicle mag laying across the sling is Big Jim’s contribution to Project Black Adder, a Magpul D60 (60 round drum) – because ‘America!

The Feeling

The fit and finish is great for the price. No gap, no wobble, the whole thing feels nice and solid. The Magpul furniture adds a bit of weight, but if you’re used to the heftier AKM, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The grip is bit meatier than I’m used to, given that everything else I own uses the standard Comblock AKM variety…

The trigger is nice and crisp, so I’ll probably leave it as is.

The Shooting

We’ll see once I get a chance to take it out, but function tests using snap caps seem to indicate that it won’t have any issues. To be continued!