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Missive #36

I have the last, I hope, post op appointment with the cataract surgeon on Tuesday. Maybe get a new prescription for glasses, I need reading glasses now for sure and think I’ll get regular bifocals for my distance glasses. My distance vision is very good now so that part of the bifocal may be almost nothing but glass.

I really like the description that the Associated Press gave to the gun that was used in the Monterey Park shooting; “a modified 9 mm submachine gun-style semi-automatic”. They twist themselves into knots trying to make every weapon an “assault weapon”.

There is a good chance that the ‘object’ that was shot down over Alaska was a Nation Weather Service balloon launched from Alaska. See Airforce Spent Millions To Shot Down A Failed U.S. Weather Balloon – Biden Is Happy It Did So for the article with details. If that is true then this story will go into the history dumpster very very quickly.

But the F-22s got another UFO kill over Canada. I wonder if it was another U.S. Weather Balloon? Read all about it at Norad shoots down ‘unidentified object’ over Yukon under PM Trudeau’s orders

JR Prepares for a Trip to Sin City, or
Guns, Gear, Gals, Gambling, Grub, and Good Times at the SHOT Show
By John Ross

Copyright 2004 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

 Tonight I head out for the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show in Las Vegas.  SHOT is where I get to see all the people I know from around the country that are movers and shakers in the gun industry.  SHOT is where I buttonhole different manufacturers to encourage them to produce things that I think are missing from their product lines.  Sometimes, I’m successful.*  SHOT is HUGE, and industry-only, although any serious enthusiast who can’t get his favorite gun store to get him a pass isn’t trying.  I have press creds, which gives me access to the press room, lets me take pictures, and encourages suppliers to give me samples of new stuff to try out and write about.

    At 7:30 tomorrow morning I’ll have a delicious teriyaki sirloin for breakfast at the Ellis Island casino, for $4.99 or some other similarly ridiculous figure.  One time I told a cute waitress there that I’m Vegas’ worst nightmare, a guy who eats all the delicious cheap food, and doesn’t gamble. She laughed and asked me if I went to shows, talked up Vegas to my friends, or visited any of the clubs.  When I answered in the affirmative, she asked if I wanted a second steak on the house, and handed me a free pass to get into the Platinum Club, where her sister was working that night.

    The fact is I love Las Vegas.  Maybe I have middle-class tastes.  Maybe I don’t have enough appreciation for culture.  But I don’t buy in to the whole “It’s so phony—everything there is designed to separate you from your money” crap.  Hell, everything everywhere is designed to separate you from your money, for God’s sake!  In Vegas you’ll grin while it’s happening.  Not so in New York City.

    My first taste of Nevada came as a young boy.  Uncle Graves had ordered the new 1967 911S Porsche from a St. Louis dealer.  This was the one they were raving about in Europe, about 2000 pounds and with a 180 HP two-liter flat six that would rev to 7700 RPM.  The car wouldn’t be in for another two months, so my uncle bought an identical-body 912 four cylinder model with the promise that they would buy it back for a set price when the 911 came in.

    Pre-1973 there were no open road speed limits day or night in Nevada.  We were in the 912 on an undivided four-lane headed for a trapshoot in Reno.  It was just past noon on a cloudless June day, and my uncle had the 912 going as fast as its little four-cylinder engine would push it.  The 911/912 series was very aerodynamically clean, but 90 horsepower can only do so much with a passenger car big enough to carry two adults and two children.  The road was almost ruler-straight, and the needle hadn’t moved for the last twenty minutes, lingering just under the figure “120” on the round speedometer.

    I noticed my uncle glancing in the rearview mirror.  I turned in my seat and saw a police car in the distance, gaining on us.  Uncle Graves didn’t slow.  About a minute later, the police car pulled into the left lane and passed us with perhaps a 15 MPH speed edge.  In a few minutes it had disappeared in the distance.

    A half-hour later, my uncle asked if I wanted a hamburger, and I said yes.  He eased off the throttle and the car decelerated as if it had run into a thicker batch of air.  A roadhouse was up ahead, with a variety of vehicles filling about a third of the gravel parking lot.  The Nevada Highway Patrol car that had passed us was parked near the entrance, its engine ticking softly as it cooled. 

    We sat at the bar and my uncle ordered a beer for himself and a soda for me, and some food.  The hamburgers soon came, thick, juicy, and not overcooked.  I was savoring my first bite when I realized that two men had come up to the bar next to us, holding half-empty beer bottles.  It was the two Highway Patrolmen.  The one nearest us had a concerned look on his face when he spoke.

    “Mister, is that your little red foreign car parked out there by the utility pole?” he asked, gesturing towards the parking lot.  My uncle admitted it was.  “Well,” the patrolman said, shaking his head, “if that’s all the faster it’ll go, I’d keep it off these roads if I were you.  This is Nevada.”

    First impressions carry a lot of weight, and the Chamber of Commerce should have given that cop an award for the one he made on me in 1967.

    I was an adult by the time I started going to Nevada regularly, for Wally Beinfeld’s excellent antique arms shows, the American Custom Gunmakers Guild shows, and the Safari Club International shows, usually held the same week in Vegas or sometimes Reno.  In the late 1980s I was there for the Safari Club show and had just finished commissioning a huge bolt action to take a de-rimmed and improved .600 Nitro cartridge I had designed.  I was sipping a soda at the near-empty bar and trying to decide whether to order dinner or go get a roll of quarters to feed the interactive shooting game at the end of the casino.

    My upbeat vibe must have been palpable, because a moment later a very attractive woman in a full-length raccoon coat walked up to me and said “I just won over ten thousand dollars at the tables.  What do you want to drink?” She was about thirty-five, clear-eyed, with a thick mane of dark brown hair and great legs.  Her hand clutched a stack of bills nearly two inches thick.  Never one to dampen someone else’s good time if I can avoid it, I grinned and told her things tasted better when they were free, and said that expensive champagne was in order, particularly if she was buying.

    That was apparently the right suggestion, and we sat and reveled in her good fortune while sipping Dom Perignon.  I told her I liked her coat, but wasn’t it a little warm in this weather?

    “I just bought it,” she told me.  “As in about ten minutes ago.  I’ve always wanted a raccoon coat, so I just went to the fur shop down the hall and bought one for cash.  My husband’s probably going to think I’ve been screwing some rich old goat when I get back to the room and he sees me wearing it.”

    “Are you going to turn it inside out and put in on while you’re naked?” I asked.  She stared at me.

    “How on EARTH did you know THAT?”

    “Isn’t it logical?”  That made her grin and start laughing.  She had a startling donkey-bray laugh that told me immediately she was a person who wasn’t overly worried about what others thought.  I liked her. The fact that she was a knockout didn’t hurt.

    “Where were you when I was single?” 

    I shook my head.  “Don’t play that game.  If we’d gotten married you’d be tired of me by now, and you’d be off trading one-liners with some other guy in a bar, and you know it.  If your husband isn’t doing it for you, smack him between the eyes with a two-by-four to get his attention, then demand what you need.  If he needs a spine, then strap on your spurs and ride him ’til he grows one.  You don’t get what you want by sitting around.  As you obviously know,” I added, gesturing to her coat.

    “A very good night—ten thousand dollars, and some insight on top of it,” she said, cocking her head.

    “Least I could do,” I told her, pointing to the $100 bill she’d placed on the bar to pay for the bottle of champagne.

    We finished the last of the Dom and suddenly she leaned over and kissed me quickly on the mouth.  “We’ll see if my husband likes the way I look wearing a fur coat inside out. Think that’s a big enough two-by-four?”

    “One way to find out.” 

    She smiled a big, toothpaste-ad smile.  “Yes, there is.”  She turned and strode out of the casino towards the elevators, the long fur coat swishing behind her.  We had never told each other our names.  Somehow that made our passing acquaintance even better.

    Like I said, I love Vegas.

John Ross  2/11/2004

*This year I’m going to do my best to convince Smith & Wesson to produce four new revolvers that I am certain will take almost all the sales of similar but inferior guns made by their two competitors.  Go here for a detailed description of what I have in mind, and how you can help make it happen.

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