Tuesday, October 28, 2008

After 8 Years

Remember this?

You ever wonder what happened to those guys?

Monday, October 27, 2008

....until someone loses an eye

Boy, 8, fatally shoots self in head while trying out Uzi submachine gun at Mass. gun club show
By Associated Press
1:55 PM CDT, October 27, 2008
WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.

The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, police Lt. Lawrence Vallierpratte said.

Police said the boy, Christopher Bizilj (Bah-SEAL) of Ashford, Conn., was with a certified instructor and called the death a "self-inflicted accidental shooting."

As the boy fired the Uzi, "the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head," police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The boy died at a hospital.

The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.

Although the death appeared to be an accident, officials were investigating.

It is legal in Massachusetts for children to fire a weapon if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian and are supervised by a properly certified and licensed instructor, Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The name of the instructor helping the boy was not released.

The event ran in conjunction with C.O.P Firearms and Training

"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site.

Messages left on answering machines for the club and the C.O.P. group were not returned Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

T minus 12 days

With a dozen days until the election, as a card carrying red stater and election student, I'm here to tell you that John McCain is not going to win the election.


He failed to lock in and focus on the most pressing issue of the moment.

He allowed others to define him.

He ignored the one inarguable negative about himself (his age), and chose a political lightweight as his running mate.

When confronted with the MOST IMPORTANT CURRENT ISSUE IN THIS ELECTION, he 'suspended' his campaign and pulled his oars out of the water.

He failed to appear presidential over and over again.

I guess I could type all sorts of negatives about Obama, but there is no point. This was McCain's election to lose, and lose it he will.

If I have to eat crow on November 5, so be it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last one out of Nebraska

My last grandparent, my father's mother, passed away on Sunday.

One more, and possibly last trip to Nebraska.

I left late Tuesday morning, arriving in Johnny Carson's hometown of Norfolk (pronounced 'Norfork' by the locals) around 6:40 that evening. I checked into my hotel (I would have stayed closer in Wayne had there been a non-smoking room available at the Super 8) and drove up to Carroll, the Hansen Family hometown (population 225) in the rainy darkness.

It doesn't take long to drive all the streets in a 225 person town, but I did, remembering my summer vacations over 30 years ago. My grandmother operated a 2 1/2 aisle grocery store, and was quite the business woman. When the regular beauty salon owner retired, she remodeled a back storage area into a beauty shop, where my aunt Karen and later other women practiced the fine arts of hair coloring and cutting.

My grandfather passed away in 1980, and grandma retired from business shortly after. The store stayed mostly empty, and gram busied herself with the church ladies, running the various socials and funeral luncheons. When she had the store, she would load groceries into the back of her Chevy Blazer and delivered food to less fortunate farmers during the winter. She was always busy busy busy.

Her memory and her health started to go bad about 10 years ago, and about 5 years ago she went to a nursing home. Her house and most of her possessions were sold, all the money going to pay the nursing home bills. She was practically penniless when she died.

As I drove down mainstreet, I found that her store had been demolished, now a parking lot for a small trucking company. The old tavern was still there, but I didn't feel like going in for fear that all my childhood memories would be shattered. I drove back to Norfolk, stopping at Applebees for a decadent rack of ribs, two large bills, and after the waitress twisted my arm, dessert.

The weather had improved overnight, and I got dressed and drove back to Carroll for the funeral service. I did a quick jog over to Pierce, my mother's hometown, so I could drive past her childhood home. The large cottonwoods were gone, but the 'new' owners (they've lived there at least 20 years now) had made lots of improvements and I found myself happy that the old place looked so good. I made it to Carroll at 9 am and made my way into the church.

My older sister and dad were there, along with his brother, Uncle Den, and over the next hour, various relatives trickled in. My grandmother outlived many of her friends, except for Phyllis, who worked for grandma at Hansen's Grocery. She gave me a hug and told me how much she loved and respected my grandmother. I told her that gram really loved her, too, and we all appreciated their friendship. How my grandmother made enough money to have a full-time employee I'll never know.

All my Nebraskan cousins came to the funeral. I hadn't seen many of them in almost 20 years. I realized that we had all grown up now, and was proud that they all had stable family lives, and were successful in their own ways.

The service was nice, and as usual, the younger minister did not know grandma (her nursing home was about 40 miles from Carroll), he did make an effort to learn about her in the days prior to the funeral and was able to talk about her community service, but her love of gardening and flowers.

I busted the chops of my fellow pallbearers, making sure that no one slipped down the two flights of stairs from the chapel to the hearse. Two cousins, one cousin in-law, and two friends of the family carried my grandmother's silver casket to her final resting place next to grandad, and one row and four plots from my Uncle Doug.

We went back to church for the luncheon, and I thanked the ladies who prepared it. Knowing I had and eight hour drive back home, I left at 12:30, slipping out. I'm not one for goodbyes. I arrived home exactly eight hours later, glad to be home.

The drivers in Iowa need some serious lessons about how to drive on the interstate.