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In defense of Mr Coffee

We enjoy coffee in this house.

Rather, to be honest, coffee is a necessity to get a day started properly.

Just one or two cups, and we are off and running full bore.

The question is, How should the coffee be created in the first place?

One person likes the fancy high-tech coffee makers, with all their automated bells and whistles, timers that people outside your home can set their watches by, nuclear heaters, supersonic filters, and so on. You push a button and things start to whirl, hidden gears begin to spin and interconnect, a promising mechanical thrumming starts, and then you wait a hell of a long time while all of the various moving parts begin to work together to make a black liquid known as coffee.

Me, the other person here, likes coffee made easy.

I like Mister Coffee, the low-technology coffee brewer that is easy to set up, easy to turn on, easy to load, easy to run, and easy to clean and shut off.

Unlike the fancy NASA spaceship – inspired coffee makers, with the flick of the ON switch, Mister Coffee quickly pumps really hot water over the coffee grounds and provides hot coffee faster than I can boil it on the stove top.

There are no moving parts in Mister Coffee, no hidden functions, no tiny gears, capacitors or microprocessors that the NSA can hack into to read your kitchen habits.

So when the umpteenth fancy pants ultra-tech coffee maker dies a sudden and unexpected technologically complex death requiring a full autopsy to understand, you can imagine the conversations we have here…

Me: “Well, your latest contraption died, and now we are back to boiling the coffee grounds in a pot, or drinking yechy instant coffee. What do you say we go with the old tried and true Mister Coffee?”

Her: “But I like all those gadgets! I like setting the coffee maker to automatically begin brewing at six AM, and then finding it in flames at 6:15 when I come down into the kitchen.”

Me: “So by being sarcastic about your own choices, are you finally admitting that these high-tech coffee makers universally suck, despite their equally high prices?”

Her: “No, I am not yet ready to give up. While you were gone, I ordered one and have already sent it back after it failed to work properly the first morning. Then I looked at the online reviews and saw that I should not have ordered it in the first place. Another new one arrives tomorrow, same manufacturer. After that, I have another brand to choose from.”

Me: “OK, so….we have still no coffee maker? And you do realize that for twenty bucks, we could have by now had a simple, low-tech, high-function coffee maker on the counter?”

Her: “But I don’t want a Mister Coffee! It’s so boring!”

And so on.

This same conversation has been had in some version about a half dozen times over the same number of years.

Meanwhile, in my own little domain, I continue to use the same Mister Coffee I acquired nearly twenty years ago. Sure, Tim dropped the glass pot early one deer season morning and broke it, back in 2008, I think, but he easily grabbed a new one to replace it, and it is still going strong.

Here is the truth: a) Simplicity trumps complexity almost every time across life’s landscape, as increased complexity results in greater, more expensive, more “exciting” breakdowns, b) coffee is a simple drink, and does not require complex machines to make it, c) low cost and high function trump high cost and low function.

Perhaps there is some hidden aroma associated with fancy coffee machines, and perhaps this hidden aroma stimulates an ego gland buried deep within the brain, resulting in an enhanced coffee drinking experience. All those lights and computer-driven processes could be stimulating on a amusement park ride, so maybe that is happening with these coffee machines, too.

But as far as I am concerned, by the time my fellow coffee addicts have started and finished their Western version of the Matcha, Chado, Sado, and Chanoyu services, I am long gone out the door, fully charged, ready for the day ahead.

Thank you, Mister Coffee, for your constance, your ease of use, and your rugged, low-cost performance.

Here’s to ya!

You get what you pay for, and is this what you want

That old adage “You get what you pay for” is universally popular.

While this adage usually applies to private transactions for durable (or not so durable) goods, it applies to American and British cultures, too.

In both nations, taxpayer expenditures on public “education” have hit incredible highs, both in sheer volume and per capita.

While we once thought of education as being basic arithmetic, history, home economics, science, etc., over the past fifty years the process of forming young minds has increasingly deviated to include all kinds of social re-engineering.

This is now open, widespread indoctrination against the established culture, values, mores, boundaries, expectations etc by politically powerful teachers unions.

Day after day we see headlines, news reports, and cell phone footage from the front row of some low grade class, where either a teacher engages in gross personalization of education, or where even the official school body creates policies that openly trample civil and constitutional rights.

Recent examples include lots of hateful ranting against republicans, tea party activists, social conservatives, and political moderate Donald Trump, to the point where year books are being selectively edited and Photoshopped to remove references contrary to liberal\progressive beliefs. Like a young senior’s “Trump” tee-shirt being blacked out in his graduation photo, or Trump quotes being edited out from some senior’s year book text.

Then we get to colleges and we see a whole other level of pure hate being taught. A grades are given for answering in politically correct terms, and Cs or even failing grades are given to students who merely answer with actual facts.

Disparaging Republicans and conservatives is like a competitive sport on college campuses, to the point where college administrations now openly (and illegally) discriminate against student groups that are politically incorrect.

While this tyrannical behavior itself is frightening, because the Nazis could not have demonized their intended victims any better, the consequences of educational radicalization are starting to bear violent fruit for everyone to see.

College professor Eric Clanton wears a mask and, using steel bike locks, he sneakily attacks and badly injures peaceful protestors with whom he disagrees. He is caught on video several times, and despite the mask, he is identified by police. Clanton openly teaches “revolution” on college campus.

The other day, Mister Hodgkinson was merely a socialist and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer. He too has lots of anti- Republican hate, begun on his college campus many years ago, and so he takes a rifle and a handgun and shoots a bunch of Republicans playing baseball.

So the question is, as we are now reaping the results of decades of hate being taught and rewarded in educational institutions from the very beginning grades to the very end of graduate schools, is this what taxpayers want? Is this what you have in mind when you pay your school tax bill, or your child’s college tuition?

If you think that this carefully cultivated hate is not what you what out of our educational system, that it is not what you are paying for, then what are you going to do about it?

 

 

A Vulture’s Nose is Deep Stuff

As I am one of those many outdoorsmen who feels the presence of God most when outside in the wild (as did Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Byzantine monks, most Eastern religious founders, moved by the spirit present when interposing interference is removed), and who daily revels in the magical mysteries of nature and her myriad inhabitants, two days ago I experienced one of those affirmative moments I just had to share here.

Let me begin in a normally circuitous way.

Among our friends, the cabin frig is a notorious repository for hilarious experiments in food storage. Examples run from milk containers constantly long past the “Use By” date, which poses no boundary for me when making morning covfefe, to plastic containers containing mysterious fuzzy delicacies once lovingly stashed in misplaced anticipation of an immediate followup feed some distant time before.

So the other day, I grabbed what I thought was a container of meat pottage of recent vintage, only to discover it held the sad remains of a once-proud free range tuna fish turned to tame tuna salad some weeks prior. Upon opening the plastic container, it was clear this material could be frozen for trap bait come November, or taken to a regular dumping point deep in the forest, 100 yards from the front porch, where several trail cameras record and document the many cool forest denizens that come to explore the enticing odors thereupon.

Unwilling to risk the entire freezer contents to this nasty smelling mess, option B was followed. Taking water along to help rinse out the container only added yet more stink to the spot.

I retreated from that odorous field of battle and took up my point of respite on a chair on said porch, thinking of all the hard physical labor awaiting me, once more responsible instincts took control of my limbs. Within minutes, and I mean just a few minutes, a handful of black-headed vultures began circling the spot of spoilage, some diving down below the tree canopy to more personally investigate the enticing smell.

To me, seeing this is a magnificent experience and feeling. What a display of the incredible smelling ability of these birds!

Yes, vultures are carrion eaters, and they are supposed to be able to smell well.

Well, to me, being able to smell a few ounces of old tuna salad water dumped out in the Big Woods in the middle of a vast forest complex, from miles away, is not just good sense of smell. It is beyond imaginably incredible.

We are talking about parts per trillion of stink being immediately picked up by a winged creature far, far away. What sophistication! What finely honed senses! It is miraculous, and to me, it is a sign of the hand of God, because only God can create such complexity. Human attempts are not even cheap imitations.

Which takes me to this perhaps unexpected conclusion: I do not understand the use of recreational drugs. The free and easy endorphin “high” that my brain feels from witnessing the vultures’ display of smell capability is intense, because I appreciate what it represents. Just minutes later a beautiful ruby throated hummingbird buzzed the porch, inspecting our colorful (flower-colored) American flag gently luffing in the breeze.

Hanging momentarily a few feet away from me, I marveled at its minuscule dose of radiant iridescence.

And then as the hummingbird buzzed away at an impossibly high speed (I mean, how can such a small animal achieve such a high rate of speed so quickly? Another miracle of Creation!), my brain experienced yet another rush of self-induced stimulants. No outside drugs required. No danger, no addiction, no expense, no law breaking.

My takeaway from the vultures: Don’t take Nature for granted. She is everywhere, the handmaiden of God, here to show us The Way. If we just open our eyes and revel in the mystery.

 

Are the British a Free People?

A free people does not live in fear.

Either their government, which is created to serve them, eliminates the fear, or the people themselves eliminate it.

What has happened in England is that the government no longer represents the British People. Instead, an array of amorphous, feel-good, politically correct goals are substituted. These are “global” interests that reportedly supersede the interests of the people living within Britain itself.

When the British government fails to care for its own people, and the people begin to complain, then the government creates limits on what the People may say. Under threat of severe punishment!

The British speech codes are only slightly worse than what we see on American campuses today. If you step out of line and utter something “unacceptable,” or “offensive,” whatever that means, then your individual rights are stripped from you in an instant. No due process, no overarching Constitutional rights, just immediate and sudden delivery of scary coercive government force.

And when Muslim terrorists run amok in Britain’s streets, stabbing people, no one is allowed to carry a gun to defend themselves. Instead, heroic bar bouncers are limited to throwing chairs and beer bottles at the terrorists.

Can you imagine if people being terrorized had concealed carry?  The terrorists would not have made more than a few seconds of headway, and then they would have justifiably died.

Sad to say, the British People do not appear to be free any longer. Their government cannot protect them, and the government will not allow them to protect themselves, either. In fact, it tells the People that they should expect to be terrorized as a matter of cultural reality going forward. That is, the People must live in fear. Contrary to the basic living standards of a free people.

With human history as our guide, we know that at some point something gives way. Either the People are fully controlled and enslaved by their government, or the People revolt and create a new government that actually represents their interests.

 

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle 3.0 Review

With Pennsylvania recently adopting regulations allowing the use of air guns for hunting, a new air rifle was acquired to take advantage of the new opportunities. It is the .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder, version 3. This is a PCP version, which is to say, highly compressed air from a specialized hand pump that gives you a heck of a workout, or from a SCUBA tank, to a maximum of 3,000 psi. These PCP air guns are quite powerful and nothing like the Daisy BB guns my generation is familiar with.

It was purchased from LG Outdoors brand new in the factory box, for $465.00.

The .25 caliber was selected because the slightly larger pellets can carry significantly higher kinetic energy, as measured in foot-pounds, than the .177 and .22 caliber PCP air rifles. Supposed to function like a firearm.  That was the idea, anyhow.

A UTG 3-9×40 AO mildot scope was added to it, because the gun does not have open sights. UTG was selected on the basis of internet reviews and recommendations. It is designed for .22s and air rifles, which are much harder on scopes than even heavy caliber big game rifles. This was purchased from Midway for $85.00.

Pellets used were .25 caliber 25.39-grain JSB Match Diabolo Exact Kings. According to internet reviews I have read, these seem to be the best performing pellets in the Marauder. They are pure soft lead, rounded blunt, with a pronounced skirt, so no sharp, pointed, killer-type field tip contours here.  But within 25-35 yards, they are going to be deadly.

Shooting Experience

The clip included with the rifle broke right away, and I could not get it to work more than once (eight shots). Apparently the internal spring sprang, and the clip would not rotate afterwards. The clip is an over-engineered, overly complicated contraption, designed to frustrate most users. After those first eight shots, the clip was broken, set aside, and the gun was tediously fed single shots by hand.

After the first ten shots, accuracy began to drop, so more air needed to be pumped in with the hand pump. While the gauge on the rifle showed 1,500 psi starting out with the re-charge, it then went to 2,500 psi after just a few pumps. On the other hand, the hand pump gauge showed 3,000 psi, which is the limit. Mind you this was only the second time the gun had been pumped up. When the bleeder valve was opened and the pump disconnected from the rifle, the rifle gauge needle dropped into the white area below the marked pressure range. In other words, the rifle’s gauge died immediately upon use. Only the pump gauge was accurate.

The de-gassing tool needed to quickly let out the compressed air is not included with the gun, which is ridiculous.

The awful matte finish on the barrel and air tank attracts scuffs, holds any paint it encounters, and the metal underneath rusts easily from even the slightest exposure to moisture. This is not your old Daisy single-pump BB gun’s black finish, a finish that even decades later may be somewhat scratched but is still robust and protecting the steel underneath.

After wondering about how the barrel could be counted on to remain accurate without being rigidly supported by the front barrel band, I learned in a phone call to Crosman customer service that a rubber O-ring was missing from the barrel band on this rifle. That O-ring would grip the barrel inside the barrel band and keep the barrel from flexing or moving, which would destroy accuracy.

Despite lacking the O-ring to hold the barrel rigidly, this gun was accurate. With the barrel band O-ring installed, I’ll bet it is amazingly accurate. The adjustable trigger is outstandingly crisp.

After shooting it into and through half-inch-thick dried oak boards, which are iron – hard, we learned this is a gun quite capable of cleanly taking squirrels, rats, starlings, European sparrows, and rabbits, either hunting or in pest control out to about 35 yards. I am unsure if I feel comfortable using it for more challenging pest control like skunks, groundhogs, possums, raccoons, or feral cats, all of which are very tough, unless it is a head shot at point blank range, like in a trap. Having just killed a large porcupine gnawing on our pavilion the other night, which required five point blank Federal Premium .22 LRs, there is still a distinct power difference between even a “mere” .22 and this souped-up air rifle.

Crosman did respond to this gun’s deficiencies. They sent a new clip (the size of a fifty cent piece) in a package the size of a shoe box. I guess shipping costs are not an issue at Crosman. Days later a new air pressure gauge and barrel O-ring arrived. After looking at the terribly illustrated and poorly worded user’s manual, which did not include instructions on installing either the O-ring or the pressure gauge, I decided against trying to install the barrel O-ring or the gauge myself. The gun is going back to Crosman. They can fix this one or send a new one.

Bottom line

The Benjamin Marauder 3.0 PCP air rifle is very accurate up to ten shots, and then it needs to be pumped up again to 3,000 psi. Don’t push this rifle beyond what it was designed to do, and it will perform fine within 35 yards. Just make sure you actually get a functional rifle when it comes “new” out of the box!

UPDATE: 6/2/17 Crosman customer service is shipping the rifle back at their cost. The nice lady told me the serial number is from late 2015, which made her think the gun may have already been returned to LG Outdoors once before, as it should have moved through the channels of trade long before June 2017. She also said we’ll be receiving a new gun. That’s good customer service!