Saturday, May 26, 2018

Stumbling through the Internet is dead :(

O how I envy people that have never used StumbleUpon, the same people I felt sorry for for over a decade. They are not going to miss discovering a seemingly endless stream of new content on the Internet that fits their interests, finding gems they will otherwise never stumble upon themselves. They will continue to be fed by links from sites they frequent, "top ten" lists compiled by someone else and whatever lands in their Twitter/Facebook feed. For over a decade I've been stumbling upon tens of thousands of interesting articles, videos and other content that I wouldn't otherwise find even if I knew I wanted it. Now that this service is shutting down, the way I spend time in cyberspace will abruptly and drastically change. It's a fact of life that things change and sometimes good things die for no good reason, but this is the first time I will truly miss an Internet service. What bothers me the most is that SU is not surpassed by competition or rendered obsolete by an advancement in technology. As far as I know, it was one of a kind. It's hard to explain to those that never used StumbleUpon, but let's say I'll have to drastically re-think the way I surf the Internet.

As eloquently said in this article that I (oh the irony!) just stumbled upon by clicking on the SU button like many times before:

Its death isn’t just saying goodbye to what feels like a bygone era of internet exploration, but bidding a final farewell to a time when curation didn’t dominate our online day-to-day.

Friday, May 25, 2018

James Bay Road, take 3

It's time for another mini adventure. I'll be revisiting the awesome remoteness that is the James Bay Road, this time with some wilderness camping to spice things up. It's one of those experiences that you have to live to appreciate. 386Km between two gas stations. 620Km from town to town (if you can consider 280 residents a town). Enormous hydroelectric dam and generation station. Caribou steaks. This is the land of the giants - everything but trees is mindbogglingly enormous.

I've done it twice before. The first time almost ten years ago on the Bandit while leading a group of five riders. Second time was in a car with my wife Duda. This time I'm taking the scooter and joining three other riders from MC Tesla. Stay tuned for pictures and report, but in the mean time check the albums from previous trips.



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Justice, as per Oswaldo Mobray

Just watching "The hateful eight". All-star cast, brilliant acting, stunning visuals and atmosphere, chalk full of memorable lines. Like this one by the hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth)

The man who pulls the lever that breaks your neck will be a dispassionate man. And that dispassion is the very essence of justice. For justice delivered without dispassion is always in danger of not being justice.

Quentin Tarantino and I were born on the same day, BTW :)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Packing heat" in US

It took some time to research and a few bucks, but I can now bring all my firearms to US and carry a concealed firearm in 26 states. When I tell them that, people usually ask two questions:


Because I want to enjoy some of that "right to keep and bear arms" that our southern neighbors have enshrined in their constitution. Not to roam the streets of Philadelphia with a .45 tucked in my waistband, but to avoid any legal concerns when doing some target practice in the forests of Pennsylvania Wilds. Experience tells me that potential encounters with law enforcement are much more pleasant when officers are presented with a few licenses and legal paperwork. Even when it's not what the local law requires, it clearly shows that I'm a law abiding citizen, licensed to own firearms in two countries. 
I know what I can and cannot do in Canada because the Firearms Act (nonsensical and convoluted as it may be) applies coast to coast and my license is valid everywhere. In US however, every state has its own laws and licensing requirements. They differ in almost every detail, from who needs a license for what firearm and type of use, to how you are allowed to transport, to where and how you are allowed to shoot. Second Amendment notwithstanding, you can face criminal charges just for crossing a state line with a firearm that was perfectly legal where you came from.
First, I cannot legally purchase firearms in US and am not planning to rent them, so I had to figure out how to bring in my own. After a bit of research, it turned out to be easier than I thought. Almost everything regarding firearms is easier than most people think, but you have to invest some time and effort to investigate the options because they are often not obvious or spelled out in one place. All you need is to submit the ATF Form 6NIA (Application/Permit for Temporary Importation of Firearms and Ammunition by Non-immigrant Aliens). Once the ATF sends you the approved form (I received mine within a few days via e-mail) you are ready to enter US with your firearms and ammunition. Canadian law allows transport of all your firearms to and from the point of entry, so no problem there (Canada will even let you import whatever you are legally allowed to own, but US won't let you export any firearms).

An important side note: Believe it or not, some firearms that are perfectly legal and non-restricted in Canada are regulated by the NFA and require special permits in the US that a Canadian citizen cannot acquire. Short barreled shotguns and firearms made by Chinese company Norinco are some of them. For example, make sure you don't show up at the border with any of these.
Second, familiarize myself with local laws. For now, I only intend to target practice in Pennsylvania and their laws are fairly liberal, even by US standards. However, to get there I have to pass through one of the most restrictive US states (New York) and I may have to get an OK from NY State Police at the border. Fortunately, the US Firearm Owners’ Protection Act shields those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage. In short, i'll be fine if  I transport firearms through NY in the same manner that's legal in Canada, so no need to re-configure my luggage at the border in either direction. 

Having a Pennsylvania Shooting Range Permit ($30/yr) will also help. I am examining options to get the PA Gun Permit, but that will likely require a visit to the sheriff's office in one of the non-resident friendly counties.

I recently applied for and received the New Hampshire Concealed Carry Permit. This permit is honored in 25 other states.

A clarification on concealed carry: I have no intention to wear firearms like a piece of clothing. Permit(s) just lessen my worry about variations in local laws. For example, even in places where open carry is legal (read: almost everywhere) having a firearm in your car is often considered concealed carry and can get you in serious trouble. Also, it doesn't hurt having a CCW permit when carry your gun in a holster while plinking in the countryside.

You'll notice a reoccurring theme of overkill when ensuring compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and safety procedures. I'll go out of my way and take many steps that are not strictly required to prove I'm serious about safety and follow the law beyond the proverbial "T". An extra permit or a padlock can only reduce the risk, for me and everyone in range :).

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Home "improvement" idiot.

From the "pet peeve" department: Stupid and lazy people that paint over door hinges, latches, handles, switch covers and other hardware. They should be banned from handling any painting supplies or tools.

At some point the previous owner (there was only one) decided to improve the look of this basement door by painting it with chalky matte white paint using a rough paintbrush. She painted over any exposed part of the door, including hinges and the doorknob, but excluding any surface that is not visible when the door is closed. She basically just went over the entire front of the door, letting the paint fall, drip and seep where it may. You can see the lack of any attention or workmanship from afar, but it really "shines" when you open the door and see the  edges of the door and the door frame with paint that dripped over them.

Why would you do such a crappy and half-assed job if your goal was to improve the look (there couldn't have been any other reason because the door functions just fine more than 40 years after it was installed and it suffered no damage)? I'll never understand people like that.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy birthday to me!

In less than a week, I'll be exactly 20,000 days old. A nice round number, isn't it? My friends and family will congratulate me on my yearly birthday in March, but I consider this "decimal birthday" much more interesting. 

I detest social conventions that make people feel obligated to celebrate, go somewhere or do something prescribed on some arbitrary date, be it a public/religious holiday or their own birthday. I may have fun on that day (just like any other day), but it will depend only on my mood and/or circumstances - not on the number in the calendar. I'm usually inclined to do the opposite of what most other people are doing, not just because I don't want to go with the flow but because it's often more fun.

- Working and/or staying home on public holidays. The holiday atmosphere is there, but the crowds are not, which makes local outings more pleasurable. Work often pays more and is shorter or less demanding, plus the commute is a breeze. 

- Travelling out of season. We used to take vacations a week or two before Christmas. Again, everything is ready for the holidays, but there are no crowds or lineups.

- Partying on a school day. Who says only weekends are for enjoying good company, a nice motorcycle ride or target practice? I don't have to stay up until 2AM to enjoy any of that.

Did I mention I hate crowds? They look like sheep and make me feel like a mindless drone following some meaningless trend. The only purpose of crowded spaces is to show me where (or when) not to go.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

My 2017 in review

2017 was a very dynamic year for me. Here are the highlights:
  • I took the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, passed all the tests (4), background checks and received my Restricted Possession and Acquisition License.
  • I served on a jury for a murder trial that lasted over two months. Sent one young man to jail for life, acquited the other. Gained a few new friends and a healthy respect for the Canadian justice system.
  • Got laid off soon after coming back to work. I was seriously relieved, plus got a whole summer to enjoy and figure out what to do next. I made the most of it.  
  • A couple of weeks in Venice with my sister-in-law and her family with a hop to Belgrade for my mother's 80th birthday. Always fun.

  • A week-long solo motorcycle trip to Gaspe and the northern shore of St. Lawrence River. 6,000km of great riding, beautiful scenery, good people and excellent food. There is a lot more left to explore in Quebec - I'll be back.

  • Purchased my first firearm, a Henry US Survival Rifle. Fun to shoot, light and easy to transport, cheap on ammo. Shot over 10,000 rounds through it so far.
  • A few motorcycle day rides to my favorite destinations in Pennsylvania. Explored public shooting ranges while enjoying great roads and scenery. 900-1,000km a day.
  • At least a dozen day trips to Crown land locations in Ontario in search of good spots for informal target practice. Found a few very nice areas to ride to, enjoy nature and plink - a win-win-win :).
  • Joined the Burlington Rifle and Revolver Club after taking the course, passing the test and fulfilling other membership requirements in record time. 24/7 access to the heated indoor shooting range will make long winter nights a little more bearable :). 
  • Started working on contract for the Ontario Ministry of Attorney General. Jury experience will come in handy, but there is a lot more left to learn. Different from almost anything I did before and much less stressful than my last job.
  • Bought my first handgun, a SIG Sauer 1911 22. Somewhat more interesting and definitely more challenging than the rifle at the indoor shooting range :). Also, fun to tinker with and practice DIY gunsmithing. Colt 1911 platform is like Honda Civic of handguns - it's as ubiquitous and infinitely customizable. It's also an amazing piece of firearms history - it was designed by John Moses Browning in 1906 and was the official US Army sidearm for 75 years (1911-1986).

What's next? I planted a few seeds for 2018, stay tuned to see what will grow out of them.

Happy holidays and all the best in 2018 to my faithful readers (all three of you :) ).