May 2011 Journal

Kindle Edition:

Cover art from the novel "Common Valor"

Common Valor is now available as an eBook on Amazon's Kindle. You don't have to have a Kindle. The Kindle app is available free for computers and smart phones. I have it on my iPhone and stopped carrying the Kindle into doctor's waiting rooms. It is only $9.99 as a Kindle edition. You can download a sample for free. Warning. The book has a lot of sex and violence in it.

April 30, 2011, Saturday

The Redhead saw a sign for a car show at Camping World next door, so we went by there after lunch and looked. Small custom/rod/antique show. In our continuing series of Jeep photos, there was a Jeep there:

Car show Jeep, Patriotic

2002 Wrangler. The owner said the trim was done by a body shop on Menaul. I forgot the name of the shop, but that should narrow it down to about 100 shops

Last night I tried putting my left hand above my head on the pillow. Hard to sleep that way. But I could tell the swelling was going down. Eventually could roll on left side. I had not taken any Vicodin. Not my best decision. Very little sleep, but the arm was smaller this morning, still swollen around the staples. The staple area is itching as well as throbbing now. When I did doze off the dreams were "memorable."

Tried to watch "The Hurt Locker" today. Made it about half way through. This was the best movie of the year? I kept it to try again when I'm not in pain.

April 29, 2011, Friday

Mostly tried to cope with the pain. The arm is still very swollen. Called the nurse one more time. She indicated it's normal. Keeping the arm up is supposed to help. So, after that call, most of the time my left arm was over my head. Not fun.

April 28, 2011, Thursday

Pimp My Jeep, Part 2

Pimped out Jeep

Just got the Jeep back from Pimp My If you can't make it go faster, chrome it. The chrome grille makes sense on a car that will one day be flat towed behind the motor home.

And perhaps the chrome mirror can be justified on the same basis.

Pimped out Jeep

But then the chrome gas cap door and taillight frames are just bling.

Black leather is not available on white Wranglers, but, there it is, black leather.

Pi,ped out Jeep

Black leather back seats, too.

Applications are now being taken from ladies with the necessary attributes and skills.

Catlow and wife dropped by on the way from AZ to OH. The plan was to be here Saturday and shoot the RGR match Saturday, but they needed to be down the road. Margaritas were enjoyed by all but me as I had just taken 2 extremely ineffective pain pills.

April 26-27, 2011

Seen at the RV Park

No sniveling

If you're going to be an RVer, remember this license plate. I have a similar sign in my shop.

The Project JK Jeep

The Jeep, a Wrangler Unlimited with a lot of money spent on it to optimize it to go places I don't want to go to anymore. The website seems upset that Chrysler doesn't want to warranty a highly modified vehicle such as this. Prior to my current Jeep, my last Chrysler Corp. product was in 1976, and I would have been happy if they had just warranted the stock lemon yellow vehicle. It was gone in 6 months, and I bought other brands. I'm hoping for better with the current Jeep, but it's remaining mechanically stock.

Triple Towing Class A

This isn't a blatant case of tailgating. The Dutch Star is towing a Jeep, and the Jeep is towing a boat trailer. Triple towing is allowed in some states if the third vehicle is a boat. To me it's scarier than a regimental size NVA frontal assault, but I don't have to drive it.

Adventures in the VA System:

A little background. Monday morning I started calling the number given me by the neurosurgeon for such calls, her nurse's number. No answer. I called the back-up number. No number. I repeated both several times. Then at 1300 we went to the VA to get a PSA, this is a blood test that does not require fasting. So we went at 1300. If we had gone in the morning, it would have been at least a 2 hour ordeal. Most tests require fasting, so most people do it then. A beautiful redhead took the blood sample from my usually difficult right arm with one try, and I didn't feel any pain. Other vampires have failed after several tries, so this is noteworthy.

Figuring something was wrong in neurosurgery, we went to their floor and asked to talk to the nurse. The greeter, a volunteer, came under the category of "doesn't have a clue." I would ask a question and get a blank stare for thirty seconds. Then I would start to leave, and he would ask a question. Eventually he called, and she told him that since I didn't have an appointment and hadn't called, she would see me, but it would be 2-3 hours.

So we went back home, just a tad miffed.

Tuesday I called and got the nurse on the second ring. I explained the problems I was having, and she got perturbed or annoyed, it seemed. The problem is that the pain, while minor at first, has moved above my threshold. As a child I had a low threshold, so, just as I fought my fear of heights by jumping out of airplanes that weren't on fire or crashing, and I fought my fear of close combat by not running away, i had slowly upped that threshold. When I had the cancer surgery, I believe I took 3-4 Vicodins. 2 bottles were thrown away when they expired (no doubt making some of you go, "NO-O-O!" I can handle a lot, but this low to mid-grade pain had kept me awake for several nights, and I had reluctantly started taking the Vicodin to the limits of instructions. The Vicodin was doing no good, and my normal combat-related nightmares included the other guy injuring my left arm and hand. Anyway, she made an appointment for Wednesday at 0900.

Pre-Pimped Jeep

Break from that story: we took the Jeep to the dealer because the Bling had arrived. I wanted a fully pimped out Jeep, not a plain one, so they're going to pimp it. Photos will be posted when we get it back. I'm looking for a fur coat to go with it.

Photos of the unpimped portions:

Jeep before pimpint

Unpimped Jeep

Prepmped Jeep

Back to our VA saga:

So Wednesday morning we went in at 0900 and were seen quickly. Then, for the first time, I was told I should have stopped taking daily aspirin, not just for the days before the surgery, but afterwards, and I should have stopped taking the fish oil. I was also told then, and only then, that I can't take ibuprofen or Naproxin for pain, only acetaminophen and Vicodin (which is hydrocodone and acetaminophen). If I HAD been told that, I might not have an arm full of bruises and leaked blood and thus swollen and tender. The nurse had been in clinic all day Monday and hadn't gotten any phone calls. I asked why they don't have voice mail at that hospital. They do. She didn't want it because she might be hours getting messages, and someone might need immediate attention. Someone else was supposed to be answering the backup number she gave me but hadn't. My next choice would have been to go to the emergency room. They would have gotten in touch with the neurosurgeon or her nurse.

After the nurse and the surgeon looked at the arm, they decided that, yes, I probably did have some pain, and I should be taking Vicodin every 4 hours, which is more often than I had sparingly given myself. So they wrote a new prescription and said to pick it up at the pharmacy.

Then the fun began. It was 0930

We went to the pharmacy. The way it works is a big flat screen shows the names of patients whose prescriptions are ready but not picked up. When you see your name there, you get in line.

This is what part of the pharmacy waiting room looked like at 1030. I couldn't get far enough back to show the whole room with the iPhone camera, but it looks like more of the same:

VA Pharmacy waiting room at 1030

The pharmacy waiting room at the Albuquerque VA at 1030, April 27, 2011, but it could be taken almost any day during a 6-8 hour period. The people standing are either in line (which goes out of the room and down the hall out of sight) or talking to the people at the armored windows. The rest are waiting for their names to appear.

Some people who had been waiting over an hour went through the line to ask when the hell their names would appear. They were told to come back if it hadn't in ANOTHER hour.

At 1100 we decided to go to lunch and come back. I noticed a guy in a cowboy hat and Australian duster who had left neurosurgery when we did was still waiting for his. We had a lunch several miles away and came back after noon, and my name was up. We got the prescription without further incident.

As we left I noted the cowboy was still waiting. We made it back to the RV Park about 1400.

That is medical care under the VA. The doctors and nurses and technicians and pharmacists and volunteers, etc. mean well. But this is their system. Those of you looking forward to Obamacare can now mentally put yourself in a waiting room like that in a few years—for every prescription. I have my prescriptions mailed ordinarily, but that takes 2 weeks under the VA system. I took 2 Vicodin as soon as I got into the passenger seat of the loaner Jeep. All pain killers had worn off before we got to the VA in the first place, so I thought that perhaps I might need them.

April 25, 2011

Email Wisdom:


A congressman was seated next to a little girl on an airplane so he turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"
"Oh, I don't know," said the congressman. "How about global warming, universal health care , or stimulus packages?" as he smiled smugly.

"OK," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?"

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence,thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea."

To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming, universal health care, or the economy, when you don't know shit?"

And then she went back to reading her book.

April 23-24, 2011



Got the June column in and went through the 4,000 emails that one of my email addresses had gotten while I occupied at Buffalo Stampede and then the VA. Otherwise just laid around and groaned.

April 21-22, 2011

Why I'm not shooting for a while:

Arm after surgery

On a happier note:

April 22 is our 29th wedding anniversary. And they said it would never last.

April 17-20, 2011

Drove the bus back to Enchanted Trails Sunday. Monday had 3 appointments at the VA, one with the neurosurgeon, one with anesthesiology, and one with the hand surgeon. First two for Tuesday's ulnar nerve decompression and relocation surgery, third to FINALLY schedule the thumb surgery and query the surgeon as to why he didn't answer any of my calls. His answer was that he never got any messages. (!!) Left with the extension of his PA. He convinced me he is a good hand surgeon, but I'm not happy with the difficulty reaching him. Appointment 6 weeks from now to re-X-ray the hands and schedule the surgery in early July (after EOT.)

Lefty Rhodes and wife were here for a couple of nights, so we went out to dinner. Great folks.

Tuesday morning checked in at 0530. Surgery at 0730. Released before noon. Slept most of the day, the anesthetic wearing off at night. Didn't sleep much at night. Arm uncomfortable. But the ulnar nerve isn't painful, just the incision area. Little finger still a bit tingly, but it's getting better, and the ring finger is tingle-free most of the time. Most important, the anesthesiologist didn't kill me, and the neurosurgeon didn't destroy my left arm. Actually the place was very high tech, and I was impressed by the people working there.

Wednesday, no pain killers. We went to the Rattlesnake Museum. Cool place.

Barak Obama gives a speech

April 16, 2011, Saturday

3 Sombreros

3 Texans, 3 Sombreros, Tex Jr., Tex, Captain Baylor

The sombreros must've been good for something. All 3 won their categories. Sombreros by D Bar J.

Buffalo Stampede, Main Match Day 2

We did stages 1-6 today. They didn't prove to be any easier than 7-12. Overall I had 12 misses. (Perspective: i had one miss at Winter Range). All were pistol misses. Some I blame on my deteriorating hand condition, but there were some distant and small targets. The infamous stars got me for one. The stars look big, but they're about a 6-8" circle when you discount the star points. The pistol knockdowns on stage 2 were notoriously difficult to knock down. I saw them shake off a lot of hits and remain standing. All in all, a pretty tough match, reminiscent of Hell on Wheels 2009, for example. (At 5:30 PM, before the awards presentation, I predict the supply of white buffalo pins will not be seriously depleted. Edit: I was right, one white buffalo)

The rifle targets were not what I'd call close, but I've been practicing on 25 yard targets, so I hit them all.

But I also have to say I just didn't have it together today. I got to the starting stage, 3, about 30 miles of bad road from where the bus is parked, and the Plainsman rifle was in the cart, and the '73 wasn't. I caught a ride on a golf cart, fortunately. The nice locking case I have for .457 round balls I left in the trailer, along with my sprayer filled with Captain Baylor's Magic Black Powder Cleaning Elixir. I had a fresh box of Speer round balls and borrowed a bottle of Propel, the closest thing I could get to water from another shooter. Naturally, when it came time to move to the next stage, I folded up the loading table without putting the Speer box away and wound up with ninety .457 round lead balls (at $0.129 each) in the dirt. I think I retrieved them all.

I didn't make any major mistakes, well, other than pulling the trigger in the bank building without being able to see the front pistol sight due to the lousy in the bank, resulting in a disaster of biblical proportions, 4 misses. I had 3 clean stages out of 6, and I was shooting slowly to ensure clean stages. 34 was the quickest. I did note Boggus Deal's stages were in the 20s, not the teens.

I intended to take notes on the iPhone and post the 1st place winners on Facebook, but Coyote Calhoun was far faster than my iPhone typing abilities, and I gave up. Some I remember: Matt Masterson was 1st OA/49er, Colorado Blackjack was Regional Champion. Texas Tiger was 1st lady, Regional Champion, Lady Wrangler, and WB Ladies Traditional. Krazy Kurt WBT, Robber Baron WBM, Claudia Feather, I think, WBLM. Amber Ale Cowgirl, Kiowa Kid Wrangler, Tex Jr. FC, T A Chance FCD. Tex SR GF. Ruff Cobb SD, I won Frontiersman and Plainsman. Half-a-Hand Henry GF. Dirty Dan won ES. Ramblin' Rose won GD, which speaks well of her recovery. She dropped out of WB after one day from exhaustion. DQs in WB, at least one for failing to make the power factor, the person who loaned the chrono when the official one didn't work. One shooter was MDQed for 2 SDQs.

Speaking of the chrono, I missed the show of the weekend. Apparently both Krazy Kurt and Matt Masterson hit the Chrony chrono, turning it into an electronic Humpty Dumpty.

Tijeras Pete earned a MDQ on the last stage of the main match, so Tex put his badge on the 50 yd. line and center-punched it with a .45 Colt BP round, drumming him out of the posse.

The 5 Stand is up and running. I think Half-a-hand Henry and Dirty Dan won that side match.

Coyote Calhoun admitted the targets might need to be moved in a tad. Some big targets that blocked distant small targets will be switched. I would suggest donating the stars to a forge.

SASS has suggested sizes and ranges for targets, but, say, 16" x 16" doesn't mean much if they're funny shapes. I would suggest a square inch requirement. If I remember my high school math, area, PiRSquared on a 16" circle is about 201 Sq. In. So instead of 16 x 16 or 20 x 20, lets say targets should be at least, say, 200 sq. in. shootable surface. This would have match DQed a lot of the targets at BS. These don't have to apply to WB targets, as it's supposed to be harder.

April 15, 2011, Friday

Confederates take New Mexico

Left to right: Packin' Parson, Captain Baylor, Tex, Wild Horse John

Scouts, Terry's Texas Rangers

Shannon's Scouts, 8th Texas Cavalry, also known as Terry's Texas Rangers

Main Match, Buffalo Stampede

Shot 6 stages, 7-12, the hardest ones, starting with 9, with a mover, the infamous running buffalo. Got 2 misses on that one. Visions of white buffalo flying over the berm were in the heads of most of our posse. I had 2 clean stages. They're not that hard. I blame my bad hand/arm. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. With the Frontiersman field including 15 former national and/or world champs, I figure I have a tough row to hoe. Cold and clear, windy.

Then we had a 3 stage Plainsman match, stages written by Tex. Tex is the best writer of Plainsman stages I've encountered. He understands the category. The field made a large posse. It went quickly. I was very tired afterwards. I have gobs of photos of both events, but they'll have to wait. It's late, and I have another 6 stages tomorrow.

April 13, 14, 2011

Buffalo Stampede Wild Bunch Match

I neglected to note in yesterday's post that I got a scare during the chronographing session. Failure to make power factor is a MATCH DQ in WBAS. My first rifle round was 590 ft./sec. With 200 gr. bullets you have to average over 750 ft./sec. to make a power factor of 150. The next one was 900+. They averaged a power factor of 157. Several people were match DQed, including the guy who loaned them a chrono after theirs wouldn't work. Needless to say I'll be working on match WB ammo while I'm not able to shoot for 6 weeks after next week's surgery. I may change powders. I'll aim for a power factor of 170-175 in order to have a safety factor.

Additionally, though I missed it, I should note that one of the official chrono shooters center punched the chronograph with a major caliber load, ending the chrono session. They have a match official shoot the guns to prevent that. Oops.

On Thursday they weighed guns at the unloading table. The max weight for a Traditional gun is 40 oz. The max for a Modern gun is 42 oz. My traditional gun weighs 39.5 oz. with a Colt magazine. My modern gun (Baer Thunder Ranch Special) weighs 39 oz. Because of my hand/arm problems I shot Modern. The competition is tough in either category, so the likelihood of my getting into the top 3 is Slim and None, and Slim left town.

Pecos Clyde assigned Garrison Joe and me as co-posse marshals of one posse. This meant running the clock a lot. I don't believe anyone should run the clock for more than 4-6 shooters, so I recruited Johnny Meadows and Krazy Kurt. You need someone who knows what he's doing and knows 1911s and '97s for Wild Bunch. It's tougher than cowboy because of the various possibilities with the 1911. For example, there were 3 or 4 stage DQs for moving with the slide forward (and one for sweeping the TO while trying to clear a malfunction). Additionally, a lot of the contestants didn't grow up using the 1911, and didn't take months of training on it, so they have malfunctions they shouldn't have, and you need to be able to tell them what to do. It worked well, and I didn't see any TO caused problems, well, except for when I was running after Silver Heart, and, for no apparent reason, a small wooden horse was put in the path. I was, of course, intent on watching and keeping up with Silver Heart and hit the horse at full tilt, going ass over teakettle. Several people were immediately helping me when all I wanted was to be allowed to get up and catch up to her to get the last shots. I did, but Pecos Clyde (rightly) asked her if the commotion interfered with her run. She said it did, so she got a reshoot.

It was beautiful Wednesday, but windy Thursday. Gusts were up to 70 mph. 4 shooters blew away, last seen going over the berm. A lot of knockdowns went down to wind, not enough to give me a good run. 2 misses on Wednesday, but at least one per stage Thursday. In my defense, these were not cowboy stages. We shot, for example, the running buffalo with the pistol. Targets were placed in front of the latter half of the mover's path. A lot of people hit the blocking targets. I don't think anyone cleaned the stage on our posse.

It was a good, hard working posse. Until the wind reached tropical storm status it was a lot of fun.

I was too busy to take pictures. Didn't even take a camera.

Anvil Al posted some pictures on the SASS Wire of his wife's spectacular B-Western rig by LoneRider Leather:

Sierra Star's B-Western rig by LoneRider Leather

Sierra Star modeling her B Western rig by LoneRider Leather

Sierra Star modeling her B-Western Rig by LoneRider Leather

The back view of Sierra Star's B-Western rig by LoneRider Leather.

Good starter rig. Needs some bling :)

April 12, 2011, Tuesday

Judge Roy Bean shoots his first match in 2-1/2 years:

Judge Roy Bean waiting to shoot Wild Bunch

Judge Roy Bean shooting a Wild Bunch stage

Judge Roy Bean reloadfing his 1911

Judge Roy Bean shooting his 1911 in Wild Bunch

Judge Roy Bean shooting his 1911 in a Wild Bunch Match

The Judge drove here by himself from Texas. Yesterday he took the Wild Bunch Action Shooting RO Class. Today he shot the 4-stage Wild Bunch Warm Up match, his first match in 2-1/2 years. He is gaining weight and looking good, regaining his strength. He credits his wife, Justice Lily Kate, with "mothering" him back to health.

April 11, 2011, Monday

Took the 1st Wild Bunch Action Shooting RO Class. Excellent class. Pecos Clyde and Krazy Kurt did an excellent job. The PPS presentation was very well done, ensuring consistency in future classes. The final exam was tough, and the range exercise was illuminating.


April 10, 2011, Sunday

Moved the bus to Founders Ranch without much incident. Parked at our usual "smaller match" spot. Giggles isn't there, so no organization of the parking. Had a bunch of people over for Margaritas.

April 9, 2011, Saturday

Went to the BRR Wild Bunch match. 40 mph wind made things exciting. Good stages. Small posse worked hard.

April 8, 2011, Friday

The Jeep dealer has two suspicious looking black Jeeps that got my attention:

The insignia looked more than vaguely familiar:

This is where they stole it from:

If you've never heard of MACV-SOG, you might want to Google them or check Wikipedia.

Anyway, selling all black Jeeps with even black wheels with video game insignias on the side in the desert sounds like a difficult task. But, then, in 1978 I was selling Chevy's, and we got 50 special edition pink Monzas to sell. There was some party when the last one left.

Went to the Jeep dealer to give them the luggage cover and some unused plush floor mats for the ML. When I got the ML I put the stock mats in the bag they came in and put Weather Tech molded mats into the car. Later in the day I went to a 4WD store and got molded rubber mats (Slush Mats) for the Jeep. I put its plush mats (rubber backed) where I used to keep the mats for the ML. I didn't need to get a rear tray because the stock one was reversible, rubber on one side, mat on the other.

Tomorrow there's a Wild Bunch match at Founders Ranch. So I put the gear in the Jeep so I could shoot.

Also put in the Valentine 1 radar detector. I don't speed intentionally much anymore, but I still don't like being microwaved without my consent. I put in the Life Hammer and the small Cold Fire fire extinguisher and found a secure place for a full-sized 1911. Still haven't gotten an M2 mount.

Jack Houston called to tell me that my purchase of something other than a Mercedes is the first sign of the Apocalypse. I figure it's the second. The first was the taking over of the US Government by a Marxist thugocracy.

April 4-7, 2011

1947 Spartan

1947 Spartan, a trailer build by an aircraft company after the war. The nose looks like a bomber. The interior looks like a high-end Pullman car, all mahogany and birch. This one just had a 3 year restoration.

Roller Coaster

Monday I got the trailer almost ready to travel, anticipating a busy week. It's good that I did. It was a LOT busier than I anticipated.

On Tuesday we took the ML in for a service, anticipating it would be more than a normal minor service because of occasional drivability problems, and upcoming brake pad and rotor replacement. But when the service advisor called back he wanted more than that. There was the $290 service, $450 for the drivability problem (emission equipment causing the transmission to go into "limp-home" mode, $190 for a 4-wheel alignment, and $1200+ for the brake work (not yet needed, but they still wanted to do it now. Mercedes have brake pad wear indicators that give you plenty of time to get to a shop, and they hadn't gone off.) But the kicker was they wanted to put in a new front differential because this one is making noise. It might last a long time, or it might lock up at 80 mph according to the service advisor. Yeah, sure.

You can add it up. We did about 30 times--on the way to a Jeep dealer. Last year, counting tires, we spent about $4200 maintaining the ML. Tires are close to $300 and last about 30 miles, well, try 18-20,000. We drove several different Jeep models, Wranglers, Wrangler Unlimiteds, 6-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions, and a Grand Cherokee Limited. I had told the service writer at MB ABQ to get the ML appraised for trade-in. The GSM from the company called back with a bid that was $8,000 below what they're going for at auctions, and $10,000 below what we owed on it. I told the shop to do the minor service (to turn off the "Service in 300 miles" sign) when the car was started, and the emission/drivability issue.

The Jeep salesman treated us like adults, and me like someone who had 29 years in the car biz. We liked the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, and they had some close to what we wanted. Initially we thought the six-speed manual was the way to go, and they're scarce.

The salesman called and said that, on spec, he was ordering one the way I wanted it. He could sell it if we didn't take it, and, if he got the order in, it would be here in a month. It thought this was good salesmanship, the kind of thing I've done a few times.

I spent most of the night awake, as you can imagine—$10,000 upside down. The next day we went to the MB dealer to see the GSM. A perfect candidate to play the undertaker in a western movie met us on the lot, dressed in a suit, tie, starched shirt, and cufflinks, about 7 ft. tall and 110 lb. (exaggeration for effect.) His voice was funeral ready. The GSM turned us to him to show us GLK's. No way could we afford another ML. Despite my mentioning that I had sold Mercedes for 26 years, he insisted on telling us about the most basic of Mercedes features in language appropriate for teaching 5th graders. Most of them were dark colors, and with $5000 too much equipment. (What part of, "this is a desert." don't they understand when they order cars?) Those that weren't over-loaded had no SIRIUS radio. Some years back some idiot at MB decided that if they stopped putting in $5 SIRIUS antennas in every car, they could save $5,000,000 dollars (if the actual cost was $25 or $50, you can calculate it). This meant it was not practical to plug in the SIRIUS module at the dealer. When I was selling MB's this killed sales as effectively as finding a dead body in the demo. Then the dealer started ordering Sirius in most cars.

But, just for the exercise, I negotiated with the GSM on a car that was available. The problem was that he was offering so little on the trade-in. He graciously offered to up the allowance by the $700 bill I would get later that day.

Our car wasn't ready, so we went to the OTHER Jeep dealer and drove a Rubicon, a Liberty, and a Patriot, eliminating all from the candidate list as well as the dealer.

We got the ML back and took it to the first dealer for an appraisal. They offered $8000 more than the Mercedes dealer on cars in stock. It turned out that the 1 month had turned to three because right now they're building Sports or Rubicons, not Saharas. No problem, We had decided on the automatic anyway. It has the remote start feature, which is neat, and I remember the problems when I drove home in a stick with a broken right arm after a ski trip and when The Redhead had to drive me around for medical work while I was blind and she had a broken foot. With upcoming surgery on the left arm, shifting didn't sound as much fun as it used to.

One was close to what we wanted, white, but needing leather, which they could add locally (giving us something the factory doesn't, a white car with black leather), and adding the chrome grill and mirror covers sounded reasonable since someday it'll get flat-towed. They did both for circa OEM price. (they will have to do that next week.) The car had tinted front windows and McGard wheel locks, the latter a necessity here since the spare is full-sized, on an aluminum wheel, and mounted externally. They cut the price of that to something that sounded reasonable to me. The local Jeep dealers post a supplemental sticker with $895 for "Market Adjustment" and $299 for the locks and $399 for tinting. (If you don't ask, you won't get it, and someone might pay that much over sticker). I didn't want the front window tinting at all. It makes it hard for me to see out at night, but then I don't drive at night much anymore. They compromised at free if I didn't make them take it off. The $895, of course, disappeared.

The sale price was what USAA buying service quoted (invoice, meaning they get to keep the holdback and incentives), and they wanted the financing, so they matched USAA's low teaser rate. I'm not a fan of extended service contracts. Usually if I have one the vehicle is dead solid perfect (My ML55AMG had $260 charged against it between 50,000 miles when the factory warranty expired and 91.500 miles.) If I don't, however, I might have another like the ML320CDI, the most expensive MB to own I've had in a long line of Mercedes. Compared to a Mercedes, an extended warranty on a Jeep is cheap anyway. They have a 3/36,000 mi. Bumper to Bumper and 5/100,000 mi. Powertrain standard. I figured, though, that an extended service contract would make the thing bulletproof and ten feet tall.)The dealer eventually beat USAA's extended service contract price on a contract with better terms (29 years in the car biz, I've read a few). So we bought that as well.

I talked with a service writer. He suggested I bring my own Mobil 1 and save myself some money for oil changes. (8,000 mile changes with Mobil 1, 5,000 with regular oil). That's a good way to get off to a good start with a customer. Front brake pads and turning rotors (you don't turn MB rotors, you replace them) is $140, and the 60.000 mile service, the big one, is $400, about half to a third what a big Mercedes service starts at.

The new Baylormobile

Why do I keep thinking the front doors need Red Crosses on them? Why am I torn between that and a .50 cal. M2 mount on top.

Most important, the gun cart fits.

The Jeep, of course, has all of the sophistication of a Conestoga Wagon when you don't talk about the transmission, engine, and electronics. The navigation is better and easier to use than the ML's. It should be. It's 4 years newer. But the navigation on new Mercedes isn't much better than the 2007. The Jeep isn't a Mercedes safety-wise, the main reason I drove Mercedes. But it has all of the modern safety items, advanced airbags, including side bags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, etc. It has Bluetooth, voice control, a 40 gig hard drive you download your music into, and USB and other ports for inputting music. It'll play DVD's when you're in park, etc. etc. If you want to play your DVD's, you download them into the hard drive (3300 song capacity). But you can download from an iPod or control the iPod from the nav screen or download from a memory card, etc.

But it's still retro. You can see how everything is bolted together. The roll cage is quite visible. The top comes off in 3 pieces. The carpet pad in the bed area is rubber on the other side, so we just turned the rubber side up for carrying gun cart stuff.

The doors come off, which means they don't have decent door pockets, so I have to figure out where to keep the "car gun." Watch this space. I'll figure something out.

April 3, 2011, Sunday

Letter of the week:

Captain Baylor,

As you know I am an avid reader of your blog. I really do enjoy it. I have been especially fond of the wallpaper you have been using lately. Hannie Caulder was one of my favorite posters I used to have on my wall.

Could you send me the picture of this month's "Best Cowgirl Costume Ever". I just need to see it uncovered.


Judge'm All Duncan

This comes after someone commenting that last month's Hannie Caulder photo was pornographic.

Went to the Buffalo Range Riders match at Founders Ranch. Beautiful New Mexico day, balmy temperature, scattered clouds on a blue sky. Good match. Fun posse. The club had their annual meeting, election, and bylaws voting--AFTER the match, which ended after 4. True to my vow to keep out of club politics, I didn't stay. RGR had their meeting BEFORE the match last Sunday.

April 2, 2011, Saturday

Today is The Redhead's Birthday. The Redhead is my soul mate and the love of my life. Few of us are lucky enough to find our soul mates, and love is elusive. I am a very lucky man and want nothing more than to be able to celebrate her 100th birthday with her (That would make me something like 150, but I can still hope.)

Surrounded by Beavers

Beaver to the right of me

Braver to the left of me

Oh, well, then, what did you think I was talking about?

There are Beaver luxury motor coaches on each side of us. These are big 40-45' buses with a lot of luxury features. They were sold at Holiday Rambler dealers (a division of Monaco) before the depression killed Monaco. I didn't think the loss of several RV's was much of a loss when the industry shrank dramatically, but I hated to see Beaver go. I've always liked Beavers.

Smart Car Toad

Smart Car toad, behind a Country Coach


April 1, 2011, Friday

I've given up Cowboy Action Shooting. Too much violence, too much emphasis on weapons. I've sold all my guns and taken a job with The Rolling Stone covering Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank's re-election campaigns, and I'm volunteering my spare time with the Brady Campaign and PETA. We've found an RV park near San Francisco for the summer and Boston for the winter.















What day is it?