24 December 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

'T was the night before Christmas, and all through la casa,
Not a creature was stirring: ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?
Los niños were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in vestidos and some in pajamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.
The stockings were hanging con mucho cuidado,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado,
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Out in the yard there arose such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I went to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think quien era ?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero,
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero !
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came and this little hombre,
was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
Ay Pancho ! Ay Pepe ! Ay Cuca ! Ay Beto !
Ay Chato ! Ay Chopo ! Maruca y Nieto !

Then, standing erect with his hand on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.
Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With sooth smeared all over his vestido de gala,
He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the children had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud and seeming contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad.

Originally posted in the Yahoo Group, Costa Rica Living by: "A & A" fraluchi, December, 2012

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16 December 2012

Ban Guns? No, eliminate the causes

In the wake of the horrific mass murder in CT, it amazes me how many people are again singing the "ban assault weapons" song. That's just plain ignorant. And I'm still amazed that NONE of the Sunday morning Talking Heads of the news/talk shows still can't step away from, "People don't need assault weapons to hunt." It ain't hunting, people. The Second Amendment is about giving the citizenry the means to fight off (defend themselves) from despots and groups of nuts who have designs on the country's freedoms -- and deer rifles are not at issue because you ain't going to fight off a rogue general, with a battalion of military grade weapons. You better have as many assault weapons as you can muster.

I know that I've written this so many times that it makes some of your heads hurt, but I think the Congress needs as many public reminders as possible.  For the security of a homeland, to the general population, a mess of excellent weapons, scattered all over a country, means more for that homeland's security, than any number of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Predator Drones in the hands of an organized army.

Again, (you knew this was coming, didn't you) a history lesson.

Hitler did not invade Switzerland because he knew every single damn house in the country had a male head of household with the latest military grade rifle then in existence and knew how to use it.

Many of Japan's military leaders were similarly reluctant to entertain attacking the USA mainland because they knew that the citizens would fight them from every doorway and rooftop and that the weapons were not only "out there" but a big chunk of the population (WWI vets and rural hunters) knew how to use them.  Yamamoto even wrote a letter cautioning:
Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. [emphasis added]

He had studied at Harvard for over two years and had done two Naval Attaché hitches in Washington, DC.   The reader may think that a country full of serious war weapons is a danger to them when in reality, it might be the reason they aren't speaking Japanese or German today.

Ban assault weapons?  Nah.

Every time government tries to legislate a problem from the back end, the problem gets worse or the "cure" goes out of control. 

Stop the drunkards:  The 18th Amendment -
"The manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited."
 What did that get us?  Highly enriched organized crime; blind and dead people from drinking bad liquor; and, maybe the worst effect, a general public disregard for a constitutional law.

The war on marijuana:  Millions of dollars spent against the horrors of our children becoming crazed zombies under the psycho effects of the devil weed, positively leading to addiction to opium, heroin and, oh, yeah, "sex, love, & rock and roll."  Tens of thousands of law enforcement, judicial & penal assets pissed away, resulting in a massive population of citizens with arrest records and subsequent meaningless incarcerations.

What did that get us?  Same thing as the first example.  Highly enriched organized crime and a lot of citizens "wounded" by the stigma of being criminals and (now) at least two generations of the general public with a disregard for a national law. (And, oh, yeah, probably 0.0000001% of the users ever graduated to heroin.)  [I just made that number up.  Go ahead and get me the citations to prove it wrong.  I'd appreciate your efforts.  Thanks.]

And, how's that knee-jerk Homeland Security thing working out for you?  Do you feel more secure now or are you amazed at how your freedoms have been impacted?  Have you traveled lately?  Tried to directly ship something by air lately, via air freight?  Visited a sea port lately?

So, should you stick your head in the sand ... business as usual?

Hell no.  Attack the problem.

Is the problem pervasive gun ownership?  While I'd say, "clearly not," if you want to legislate away assault weapons, and large magazines (they're not "clips" newsboy!) and anything else, please see above.

How about you get to know your neighbors so that you know if the young man down the street with the mom railing against the local school administration is bordering on being unstable?

How about if you speak up when you see or hear something disturbing developing?

How about if you raise your kids off of and away from the X-Box and absolutely know what they're doing for how many hours on the Internet?

And, even, how about if you quit being so damned "enlightened" about mental health because you saw the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and bring back mental institutions?  There has to be a place to put the wackos because you can't fix wacked with medications and/or touchy-feely halfway houses all of the time or nearly fast enough.  [Plus I might need a nice warm place to stay after the family reads this.]

How about if you all shun violent movies and video games?  They ARE an effing problem, whether you like to think so or not.  Just ask yourself, would you take your 5 year old or your 80 year old mother to the latest splatter movie?  Exactly why not?  Yeah.  Those are the reasons that you shouldn't be taking/letting anyone do that.  Free speech?  Let 'em speak all they want.  Just don't buy into it, thereby enriching the speaker and encouraging further such behavior.

That's enough hammering for now.  I hope you see my position.  

Good luck with this.  I'm down here in the Wild West watching.  .

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10 December 2012

Bang! Motherf***er

Gun ownership in Costa Rica is pretty difficult for immigrants. I've begun the process and will see it through to completion over a period of about 60 days.
Day 1: First 6 shots. I think he's hurt.

Some people are appalled by guns. I see them as a tool. But I also take a lesson from history.

In Switzerland, every able-bodied male must serve in the military -- and then everyone who has served takes their service weapon home, permanently. After WWII, it was revealed that Hitler had designs on taking over Switzerland but was dissuaded from that course because his generals knew that there would be a rifle barrel greeting them from every window sill and mountain side. (It didn't hurt that the Swiss had built a network of fortresses into every mountain pass accessing the country.)
Behind a "wall" leaning out just enough to hit targets.

So, first, it's a tool of equalization for this old man, to protect us. Any time you swim in the ocean, there's a tiny chance that you'll be the target of a shark. Similarly, every day, while we're swimming in this ocean of humanity, there's a tiny chance of encountering a bad guy. Being gringos and grey-haired also ups the chances of an encounter.

Then, second, you're never safe and secure from hostile government takeover, no matter what you may want to believe. There are endless historical cases of unarmed sheeple going to the slaughter. I'm not crazy enough to think an old man could stand up to an air strike or even a Stryker squad; but, it's the factor of "how badly do they really want a country and how much are they willing to sacrifice to get it?" Germany decided against Switzerland and apparently, Japan's war plans steered away from a West Coast invasion of the U.S. for similar reasons.

Enough rant.

Here's what happens in Costa Rica, to gain the right of gun ownership.

First, you must be a Permanent Resident. Not a Pensionado, Rentista, Investor or Representante. Permanent Residency is granted after 3 years in one of these categories, or immediately through family linkage with a Costa Rican citizen (my situation).

Second, you're well advised to get on the inside of the gun crowd here because anything bureaucratic is incredibly complex and we all need any help we can get. So I found a gringo with connections to a local gun range and club. He offers an "urban handgunning" course and the implicit back-story is that by taking the course, there would be plenty of help through the bureaucracy.

I'm a decent shot with a good handgun understanding, as well as being pretty safety conscious. And, after spending the past several years in the Wild West post-Katrina Houston I had "situational awareness" well drilled into my psyche.  All of this was discussed in the handgun course.

Another topic of discussion was "the switch."  They didn't call it this but psychologists call it the "fight or flight" response.  When surprised with a threat, there is an adrenaline burst so that you can attack (fight) or run (flight).  Having volunteered in EMS services, firefighting, and wilderness rangering, I had experienced plenty of moments with "the switch."  The difference now is instead of switching into The Zone of under-stress performance, one has to understand that the performance is now going to be Bang! Motherf***er.  Controlled anger, aggression, performance ... immediately.

Day 2: On the attack after bailing out of the car.
The question everyone has to ask is, "Can I, without a second of hesitation, shoot another person?"

Are they threatening me or Pat with grave bodily harm? Oh? Well ... yes I can ... without a blink.

That's pretty much the totality of the course, other than firing off (200) 9mm rounds on a range, from behind "walls," on the move, retreating, advancing, dropping magazines and reloading from cover, getting out of and behind a vehicle while firing and a host of other life-threat situations.

Then the gubmint stuff starts.

First there is a written test, in Spanish. I'm allowed to have an approved interpreter (thank the FSM). It's kind of remedial but you have to pass it or you ain't owning a gun here.

Next there is a hands-on shooting qualification out on the range. Unlike Texas, where you are timed and placed under stress, shooting from various distances and situations, the Costa Rica test is just 10 rounds of .22 ammunition, shot at a static A4 target, set out at maybe 10 feet. You can take all the time you want and only 7 of 10 rounds have to hit anywhere on the target. Thanks. I think I got this one.

And then (!!) there's a psych evaluation by a nationally certified head doctor. Oh, cripes. This could be the deal breaker. I wonder if they'll let me have my "emotional support animal," Randall J. Russell The Superdog with me? I'll keep you posted.

Then you go get fingerprinted at some location. (This will be the third time in this country. Doesn't anybody share with anybody else?)

Finally, with 3 passport-size photos, my cedula (resident identity card), documentation of all of the above and a fistful of money I get to go stand in line all day at the Ministerio de Armas y Explosivos to fill out more forms and do the formal application.

Ta-chukata-chukata-chukata ... the wheels of bureaucracy shall churn and maybe they will grant me the right to acquire, keep and bear arms.

In the mean time, if things should get out of hand, I'll just have to cut 'em.

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