Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The guns of October

Spent a little time on the porch this afternoon with a little conversation and a few pints. Every couple minutes there'd be a volley of shotgun blasts coming from the marsh across the way. Hunting season.

Hunting is still part of the social fabric in these parts. Families hunt together. Moms take their sons (and their daughters) hunting while the menfolk go off on their own hunting trips. When a young lad gets to go on the hunt with Dad instead of Mom he knows he's a man. Or damned close to it.

My first teaching gig was in the southerly reaches of the next county. Hillbilly country. The folks over there would probably take that as a compliment.

It was a rough kind of crowd. Wasn't unusual to find twenty year olds in my grade ten metal shop. Not that they were stupid; they just had other priorities besides school.

Then again, some of them were kinda dicey. Not stupid, but dicey. You know; the kind of teenager who has a social work team and a legal team and a probation officer. And four high school credits after five years of high school.

One day in October I get to class, and there's nobody there. Well, not quite nobody. Coupla geeky dorkshits who typically show up even on so-called "professional development" days. And snow days.

The brightest kids in the class.

The only kids without criminal records.

Where the fuck is everybody?

Hunting season sir!

Yup, early in my career I still heard the "sir" word!

Not sure if the demise of that custom is a good thing or a bad thing. Bit of both perhaps.

What was instructive about that moment for me, my own personal "teachable moment" as it were, was that obviously the entire regimen of gun registration and hunter licensing was geared to making sure that even the most marginally literate and consummately stupid teens were capable of passing whatever test was legally required to be able to go hunting.

Whatever the do-gooders had in mind when they legislated all that "gun control", none of it precluded the dumbest of the dumb in the next county from exercising their right to go hunting in October.

Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Bought a used car in the southerly reaches of that county this week. A mostly rust free Accord that we picked up for the equivalent of three payments on a brand new one. Has a few miles on it, but the Farm Manager did some research on the net and found lots of testimonials from folks who ran their Accords to four or five hundred thousand miles.

I've personally owned two vehicles that made it well past the 400 thousand mark. One was a Volkswagen diesel and the other was a Subaru. I've had others that passed 300; another Subaru and a Toyota.

I've owned about three dozen vehicles in my time and oddly enough all the high-milers were Japanese or German. Not that American vehicles can't do that, but it is just so highly unlikely.

For example, the GM van that this Accord is replacing has the 3.8 v-6 that by all accounts is good for half a million miles. That was a motor that was always highly rated by the folks who rate that kind of thing. The GM 3.8 v-6 was right up there among the most reliable engines in the world, going right back to the 80's. I recall that my dear daddy had a couple different Buicks with the 3.8, and sure enough, that v-6 was starting up every day long after the air quit, the sunroof started leaking, the power windows didn't work anymore and the body had more holes than a round of Swiss cheese.

So the engine is good for half a million. What good is a motor that can go half a million miles if the rest of the vehicle has rotted to hell in half that?

That's the thing with American technology. It's not that America can't build good stuff, it's that they choose not to. After the great bail-out fraud of 09, where GM was allowed to shed it's contract obligations to its workers, the only thing that has changed is that workers in Honda and Toyota plants in North America suddenly find themselves making more than the workers in the UAW plants of the Big Three.

But they're still building better cars.

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