No posts yesterday because Murphy and I were traveling back from visiting family and friends up in the mitten state--the one whose economy was demolished by the tag team of Obama and Granholm to the point where it is now one of the worst places to seek a job or own property in the country. (Just keep voting for the Dems, you idiot union members!)
This was Murphy's first trip with me. He did pretty well considering. I cleared the whole back cargo area of my SUV for him and put his dog bed back there, but he decided that it was more important to be close to me than comfortable, so he fought his way up between the presents and luggage and carved out a cramped and twisted little niche for himself that looked like one of those gerrymandered congressional districts that democrats carve out to ensure that it contains enough of "their" people. His body was on the seat, his head was on my armrest, and I don't have any idea where his legs were, but he rode that way most of the trip. Crazy dog.
The big moment came when Murphy got to meet my nephew, the Spud. Spud was close to Lagniappe and my prior Shepherd Oliver, so naturally he was all excited to meet his new dog best friend. Alas, as soon as he walked into the yard where I had Murphy, there was much barking and teeth clacking, and Spud retreated with a wail of "He hates me!" Apparently one of Murphy's prejudices courtesy of his past life is that he doesn't like or trust children, especially ones who are timid. And as Spud is the poster-boy for the timidity movement...
It took some work on his lead, and half a bag of treats, but eventually Murphy learned to accept Spud and take goodies from him. This had to be refreshed again the next day when they met again, but after that, the two got along quite well...that is if you call a dog mostly ignoring a boy "quite well". But it'll get better. Lagniappe didn't care for Spud either the first time they met, but they grew to become good friends in short order.
On Christmas Eve, I met up with Aaron of "The Shekel" and got some shooting in too, if you can call what we did "shooting". We tried out a new place in Commerce Township called Target Sports II. Now I used to shoot at the original Target Sports in Royal Oak way, way back in the day (and an owner or two ago, I suspect) but this was my first time trying this place. The basic run-down: Nice, yuppie-attracting storefront filled with over-priced guns and over-priced accessories. The range was run by a chick with a funny name that I can't recall--Hella or Hedda or Hecka...whatever it was, it obviously translated from the old language as "Bitch". She started out by nixing most of the ammunition that we brought from outside, on the grounds that it was "steel core and bad for the range." This knocked out my .380 and Aaron's 9x18mm. We know that our ammo isn't steel cored--that's not even legal for sale in the US--but she had a magnet the size of a brick that she put on the box, and when it stuck, she declared it "steel-cored". We tried pointing out that it was the steel in the cases that her massive magnet was attracting, but she wouldn't budge. Our suspicion that she was just trying to deprive us of our ammo so that we'd have to buy more from them at their outrageous prices was confirmed as soon as we got into the range and saw all of the .223 rifle cartridge cases on the floor. So my cheap Tula .380 ammo might somehow damage the range but that stuff at 3,000fps won't? Fuck you, Bitch. And then there was the whole list of "can'ts". You can't draw from a holster and shoot. You can't lower the detachable barricade and shoot. (Then why does it have that clasp and hinge?) And you can't even hand someone on the adjoining lane an empty firearm with the action open, as we found out when The Bitch used the PA to yell at us for the "crime" of passing Aaron's wonderful S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum back and forth as we alternated firing 5-shot strings at out targets. Apparently if you wish to trade guns with someone, you must leave the gun on the bench and trade shooting positions, and swap your targets on the hangers too because you're not allowed to crossfire onto adjoining targets.
Adding insult to insult, she shorted us on our time, too. If you go in there, make sure that you keep a stopwatch running, because they're obviously not above cheating their customers out of five or ten minutes in order to try to squeeze other paying customers in.
Bottom line: Screw that place and screw it hard. I won't be back.
Back at Aaron's, my mother and sister arrived with The Spud, and we had a terrific Christmas/Hanukkah dinner courtesy of Aaron's wife, Natasha and her mother (Spasibo!) who made a wonderful ham. Now that was much better than just going to the movies and eating Chinese food, wasn't it, Aaron?
The next day, we had another great dinner at my father's place (more ham...and RIBS!) and gifts were exchanged. I got the Spud an army backpack, belt and canteen, but I'd forgotten to make sure that the box I was packing his gifts in was empty before I put his stuff in it. When he opened the box, the first thing that he pulled out was a rifle scope, followed by a loaded 20-round AR mag. Needless to say, he was a bit excited for a few seconds--and his mom was about to stroke out--before I figured out what I'd done and reclaimed those items. And in keeping with our Christmas tradition where I give the boy a weapon that he wants (and which his mom promptly takes away and hides) I also got him a slingshot.
As this was Murphy's first Christmas, he was a bit slow to catch on. But he too discovered the joy of ripping the paper off of something to find new toys inside.
The next day, Aaron and I took the Spud out to play some lazer tag. Being the day after Christmas, the place was nearly empty, and for two games our of three, the three of us had the whole arena to ourselves. Spud racked up a ton of points just following Aaron around and shooting him over and over, as Aaron, in true Canadian military fashion, merely responded by asking him nicely to stop doing that. I, on the other hand, discouraged Spud by repeatedly running away from him and setting up ambush after ambush for him when he predictably pursued me. Naturally, he soon developed an affinity for Aaron's United-Nations-style defensive tactic and just stuck to him like glue for the last game. Great fun, and next time we'll try it with Aaron's daughter Abby, who will, I predict, dominate that arena just like she does everywhere else she goes. That one is definitely not timid.
So we're back home now, getting re-settled in and looking forward to a relaxing day of reading in front of the fire.