Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's been awhile since I posted. I was inspired by the incomparable Brigid to write a bit about my Dad.

I remember my first golf tournament. I was scared to death, no real clue about what I was going to do out there, or how to do it. I remember thinking that I was out of my league, out of my mind for being there, and just flat out of my element.

The tournament was out of town. My dad was self-employed at that time, so he could pretty much do as he pleased. He never missed a single sporting event that I participated in that I can recall.

Golf is a pretty solitary sport. Even though you are competing against others, you are really competing more against yourself. You are fighting your swing, trying to make it do what you want it to do. It's easy to get discouraged, to feel alone and helpless out there when your ball shanks off somewhere, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Sounds terrible, doesn't it? I wonder what the heck I actually see in this stupid game? What the heck does that say about me? Anyway, I digress.

Somewhere about the fifth hole, I picked up on the fact that somebody was watching me. I couldn't quite figure out who, or where they were. This was different than being watched by the guys I was playing with. There was somebody out there looking specifically at ME, and I didn't know where they were.

Somewhere about the 9th hole, I caught a glimpse of somebody about 75 yards away, watching from behind a tree. They were taking great pains to keep out of sight. Not in a weird way, just trying to be unobtrusive.

I knew it was my dad. Even though I couldn't see him, I recognized his silhouette. I was even more certain when I saw the faint puff of bluish smoke form his ever-present cigarette.

He was there for the rest of the tournament. I did horribly, but I played better after I knew he was there.

He was watching me, offering support in a different sort of way. He knew that I was out there alone, and he knew that I had to be. He knew that he couldn't help me, but he wanted to be there just the same.

He never told me he was there. When my round ended, he headed home. He even pretended that he wasn't there. And to this day, I haven't told him I knew. I think he does know, though. It's a Dad thing.

It wasn't the last time he was out there, clandestinely.

Every thing I've ever done, I knew that Dad was somewhere behind me, offering quiet support and strength. He knew I had to do it alone, but wanted me to know that he was back there, ready to do what he could to help. He also knew that failure taught more than success, and that I had to take hard knocks just like everybody else.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ugly, But Effective...Redux

I’ve always liked the nice sports cars. I think it would be an absolute blast to run around in a Ferrari every day. It would turn heads, look spiffy, and probably attract a lot of attention from law enforcement, car thieves, and people who like to drag their keys down the side of somebody else’s nice, new car. So that’s why I don’t drive one. Never mind the fact that a cheap new Ferrari is probably north of $180,000 or so.

Even though it’s nice to have a flashy sports car, it’s not really all that practical. You can barely get a sack of groceries in one, much less a car seat and two passengers. It’s lousy in bad weather, which this part of Texas tends to have. Rear-wheel drive vehicles don’t do well in ice, for the most part. You can’t go to Home Depot and load lumber in the back of one. You can’t pull a trailer with one. It’s utility is actually rather low, in that light. Which is why I drive something a bit more practical.

I’ve noticed the same thing about my personal defense weapon. Sure, I love to shoot a nice 1911 .45. The triggers are great, the design is actually rather pleasing to the eye, and it’s about the most accurate handgun platform that I’ve had the pleasure of shooting.

But what weapon am I choosing to rely on to defend my life, and that of my family in the direst of circumstances? I’ve carried a nice 1911, but it wasn’t really comfortable to me. I like Sigs, but there’s not really a big caliber Sig Sauer that is concealed carry friendly. Sure, you can hide one under a coat, but I can hide a shotgun under a coat if I really wanted to.

I keep coming back to a Glock, time and time again. The Glock subcompacts are proving best compromise of an easy to carry, easy to conceal weapon with large capacity, big bore stopping power, durability, reliability, and easy maintenance.

I’ve been going with the Glock 27, by and large. It fits in a pocket holster, belt holster on the cold jacket days, or in an ankle holster when I really have to hide one. .40 caliber is nothing to sneeze at, and ten rounds of it in a relatively tiny pistol is nice. I am not the biggest proponent of the .40, mind you. I think it’s somewhat snappy in recoil.

Shooters all have their personal preference. And I have always liked .45 automatic as my caliber of choice. It’s big. It’s accurate. And its recoil characteristics are fairly pleasant, even as large a bullet as it fires. It’s just hard to find a small .45 that conceals well.

It appears my small .45 has arrived. The Glock 36 is just about a quarter inch longer than the 27. It’s thinner, since it has a single-stack magazine. The frame is actually a bit thinner than a normal Glock as well. People griped about how fat the grip of a Glock tends to be, and how blocky they are. Well, Glock decided to listen. Best of all, it’s a .45 automatic. A REAL .45 automatic, unlike the .45 GAP Crap that Glock has inflicted on the shooting public in the past. It holds 6 rounds of happy .45, with one in the chamber. That’s the equal of most small 1911's.

It appears to do what Glocks do best, which is put bullets downrange with a minimum of fuss and bother. It’s small enough to conceal in the same manner as the 27, which is nice. Though the slightly longer grip makes pocket carry impossible with some types of pants, it still manages to conceal nicely. It fits in all the other Glock holsters that I have, which is a good thing.

It’s not a nice-looking weapon. Nobody can say that it’s as pleasing to the eye as a 1911 or Browning Hi-Power. It’s not as point-friendly as a Sig Sauer, but it does point the best of any Glock I’ve ever picked up. It doesn’t have the great triggers the aforementioned pistols have, but it’s got the exact same trigger as every other factory-spec Glock on the market.

And it works. I don’t worry about scratching it up, because it wasn’t pretty to begin with. I don’t worry about it functioning when it needs to, because that’s what Glocks are known for. I don’t worry about the thing not hitting to point of aim, because it will hit whatever I’m aimed at. If the round misses, it’s nobody’s fault but mine. The sights aren’t going to get out of whack.

It fulfills the purpose of a weapon, which is a tool just like a screwdriver, hammer, or tire iron. It helps to keep me and mine secure. In the end, that’s all that matters. It’s not a Ferrari. It's a pickup, and not one of those fancy, nice ones with satellite radio and leather seats that cost more than the truck itself. It's a plain old truck that goes on down the road with monotonous reliability. Not pretty to look at, but it works.