I have been working out at a local gym now for about 4 months which in and of itself is not unusual.  What is unusual are the strange folk that inhabit the workout facility at 5:00 am.  Yes, there are quite a few normal people there as well, but it only takes a few odd balls to make heads turn.  Let me take a moment to elaborate on a few of the oddest types.

The Singer
There are two people who regularly work out in the morning who feel that they should grace each and every exerciser with a healthy dose of song.  One is what you might call a soft singer.  She sings just loud enough for people within a machine or two radius to hear her.  Not a terribly annoying person, just odd and of course, totally off key.  The second singer is the one who belts out "Jingle Bells" at the top of his lungs as he moves between machines.  In-between songs he will make loud and disturbing sounds such as clucking like a chicken.  Perhaps they do this for attention, but my feeling is they are a few bricks shy of a full load.  Clucking like a chicken while exercising is definitely padded room material.

The Grunter and Growler
These are the people who feel that they must make as loud a grunting sound as possible between each repetition during weight training.  Now, I know that sometimes to make it through a demanding set it is ok, to huff and puff a bit, but this is the totally over the top grunting that the whole gym can hear.  There are at least three of these types who can regularly be found in the mornings working out.

The Over-exerciser
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone who is obviously meeting their exercise goals and taking it to the next level, but that is not what I mean by "Over-exerciser."  The over-exerciser is someone who exercises so intently that they end up using the exercise machine in a way that it was never designed to do.  It is very difficult to explain this person, but I will attempt to do so.  One over-exerciser lady at our facility is often seen bending down at 90 degrees while running like a mad women on the treadmill.  She often does odd gyrations while attempting to do leg-ups.  What kind of madness has overtaken someone like this?

The Wanna-be
He is the guy who picks someone else every week to try to learn from but never seems to get anywhere in his training.  This is not horribly odd, but what is odd is the tenacity in which he tries to get advice.  If he worked out as hard as he seeks advice, he would be one ripped guy.  I feel sorry for this type of person because the reality of it is they really don't want to exercise they just want a friend, but they go about it all the wrong way and try way too hard.

The Life of the Party
We don't have a huge problem with this at our gym but we have a couple. I am afraid you know this type all to well from other life activities. This is they guy that everyone knows and he diligently makes sure everyone knows him because he goes from machine to machine talking to each person.  Folks if you want to chat, then go to the coffee house.  Keep it out of the gym please.

You know sometimes I really find the above people more than I can handle, but often I find them a true source of entertainment.  After all we are all different and I know people think I am odd at times.  So let's embrace the crazy folks in our life.  I mean they are there, they are not going to go away, and sometimes they are just plain funny.

If you have struggled to get through intense weight training sessions then you may have no doubt looked into supplements as a way to help make your workouts more successful.   If you have looked at EAS Phos Force, but have been hesitant to buy it then this review is for you.

Phos Force is a pre-workout weight training supplement designed to give anyone who seeks energy a needed boost.  It contains 5.25 grams of creatine, 34 grams of carbs (needed for a proper creatine reaction in the body),  1.6 grams of CarnoSyn, 50 milligrams of magnesium and 100 milligrams of caffeine. I am always skeptical of any supplements but I thought I would give it a try.  First, the product comes, as far as I know, only in a thirty day supply in either fruit punch or orange flavor.  I opted for the fruit punch flavor mostly because it was on sale.

The instructions say to take an eight ounce dose about 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.  Since I workout at 5:00 am I did not have time to take it a full 30 minutes prior to my workout.  Instead I took it about fifteen minutes before my workout.  So my experiences are based on that change in the prescription.

The taste of the drink is palatable, but does have a little bit of an off flavor compared to say a glass of Koolaid.  I assume this is the active ingredients which cannot be masked completely by flavorings, but I think Abbott did a fine job with the flavor.   The powder needs to be mixed quickly, if you let it set without mixing even for a minute, the powder will crystallize in the bottom causing major headaches.  Just remember to put the water in your mix bottle then the powder and mix quickly.  Ok so let's move on to what really works or does not work with this supplement.

About 15 minutes after taking Phos Force  I felt the caffeine hit my system.  This is about the time I was doing the chest press.  The caffeine did its job by easily allowing me to finish 10 reps of 210lbs and the next two sets.  So my initial reaction is a positive one to the caffeine.  For me, at age 39, the caffeine is a good boost this early in the morning.

At about 30 minutes there was indeed a second boost of energy.  I do not  know if this was the creatine or the CarnoSyn, but there was something clearly happening.  I was able to get through 3 sets of preacher curls, 3 sets of incline dumbbell curls and 3 sets of seated curls without a huge amount of muscle fatigue.  I will tell you that this has not been the case in the past.  I could not get through that many sets for the same muscle group without significant muscle fatigue.  As an added benefit the caffeine also helps with cardio which I do directly after my weight training.

In conclusion, I have been taking the product for about two weeks and it does work.  Don't expect miracles here as it is just a supplement  but I do recommend it to anyone seeking to build muscle.  It is important to also note that with some individuals, creatine does not work as it does in others.  Even without the creatine, there are other benefits with the powder.  For example it does have CarnoSyn which is stated to give more muscle stamina and it has magnesium which more and more is known as a good muscle builder.  Give it a try and see what you think.  Let me know how it does for you.

Today is indeed a dark day for America!  Yes, I know it is a trite expression and  for those who voted for Obama trite means overused or in common use.  Yes, it is a dark day not because a republican did not make it into the office of the presidency, but rather it is a dark day because a man who has no vision for America did.

America, where is the "hope and change" which Obama so eloquently delivered to us four years ago in his speeches?   When he took office in 2008, America was in debt at $9.986 trillion and now we have gone to almost $16 trillion.  This was according to both conservative and liberal media outlets  Obama's administration has alienated Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East and left Americans to die in Benghazi.  Our unemployment rate is higher now then when Obama took office. So why are people still willing to vote for someone who demonstrates such failure?

I think first, people do not attempt to educate themselves to the facts and the truth that already exists.  We have a nation which is generally apathetic and unwilling to participate and engage actively in the political process. Being engaged is not simply voting but educating yourself on the facts about each candidate. The failure of this country to engage was proven yesterday by the number one search term in Google which was something to the effect of "who is running for president?" How can anyone of voting age be so disengaged in American culture to miss who is running for president?

Secondly, I think people are educated in the public school system which generally speaking perpetuates the belief that conservatives are rich, angry, uncaring, religious, gun owning men.  I and almost every conservative I know truly want the common man to  succeed.  We truly care about the individual and his right to succeed and live the American dream.  Yes, I am religious and I believe in a God of love who genuinely wants us to care for those around us.  In fact we are commanded in the Bible to feed the poor and take care of widows and orphans.  I attend a church that does just that on a daily basis.  Yes, I own a gun and I keep it locked up and safe.  I like to go shooting for sport and I like to have the guns there to protect my family.  I do not commit violence against others as the gangs do on the streets of the predominately liberal cities.  I do not even hunt animals as my family does not need the meat to survive.  I believe in a clean earth where my family can go to parks and experience God's creation. I live in a very modest 1300 square foot home and drive a four cylinder Kia with 142,000 miles on it. This definitely takes me out of the rich category.

Finally, people in America voted for Obama because they are not a follower of Christ.  They do not abide by Judeo-Christian ethics so they have no compass to give them wisdom to make the right decisions when voting.  Our churches are bursting with people who have no concept of who Jesus Christ was and where he stood on issues.  They do not understand that killing a child in the mother's womb is murder.  Jesus spoke of those who are quick to shed innocent blood as being those who are not his followers.  Furthermore, there are those who sit in our churches and claim to follow Christ, yet  no longer follow the leadership of their pastors which God setup for them to follow.  They ignore their teachings because they have a form of godliness but deny its power.  They want to live their own secular lives apart from the teachings of scripture but come into church and pretend to be a Christian.  Christ said if you are a lukewarm Christian he would spit you out of his mouth.

I appeal to you America to change!  Do not let brainwashing and foolishness keep you from making the right decisions for this country and yourself.  America is unique in that we have the ability to vote and change the country for the better. We did not do that yesterday!  Instead we took a failed president and believed he would somehow improve over the next four years. Please, America, wake up, change for the better!

Here is a shot of a round hay bale near Asaph, PA.  When I was a kid we called these "Giant Shredded Wheat."  The photo was taken with my Mamiya RB 67 PRO SD, 90mm Sekor lens.  I believe the exposure was f22 at 1/15 of a second on Fuji Velvia 50.   Anyway, I found this to be a very colorful scene so I couldn't resist the temptation to shoot it

Here are a few images taken with my Mamiya RB 67 SD.  I am starting to like the RB but it remains a challenge to remember so much before shooting.  Compared to other medium format cameras, the RB is quite a bit more sophisticated.  Probably my biggest issue with the camera to date is the way the "T" or in most cameras "B" mode works.  It is very easy shoot 1 second instead of "T" especially after disengaging the mirror lock using the shutter ring.

The ubiquitous shot of Crabtree falls (Sekor C 65mm, Fuji Velvia 50, f32, 16 seconds)

On my list of waterfalls I wanted to shoot as soon as possible was Crabtree Falls in North Carolina.  Well today I made the trek two and a half hours to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest to do just that.

I arrived at the campground area at about 7:30am and parked at the first trail head leading to Crabtree Falls.  This was the first mistake I made.  Leaving from this trail head will add another half mile to the falls.  Go down further to the second trail head and save yourself some issues.

After about 1.5 miles of hiking downhill, I arrived at the bottom of the falls. I was truly stunned at this falls beauty and at the same time relaxing sounds.  This is in the top three falls in NC in my humble opinion.  It lacks the overall power of Linville and Looking Glass falls but it makes up for it in height and cascading beauty.  For the photographer, there are seemingly endless angles to photograph the falls and the cascades which flow in steps down and under the bridge.  The water is shallow enough to wade out into the current and get some nice closeups of the cascading water.  To get a full image of the falls, it is best to hike up the opposite side of the hill and shoot it from that vantage point.  If you have a wider angle lens like a 25mm you can get everything in the frame from the base of the falls.    

Don't wait too long to get there.  If you get there on a sunny day the falls will partially fall into the sunlight which will make exposure difficult.  I was shooting the scene at 8:00am and the sun had not hit the falls yet.  My exposure was F32 at 16 seconds and I bracketed down to 8 seconds.  As soon as my film is back from processing I will display some of the images. I used a combination of a polarizer and warming filter.  This is a common setup for falls.

One final thought:  Unless you are an olympic athlete or are used to very long strenuous hikes do not do the entire loop trail.  It is long and very difficult.  This was the second mistake I made.  It says on the web sites that it is medium difficulty but this is not true.  When you are carrying 20 lbs worth of camera gear it is very difficult and this shoot was in the fall with cooler temperatures.  I would recommend leaving on the same trail you came in on.
Well, by now you may know that I really don't like spending a ton of money on anything, but especially hobbies.  Hobbies suck money out of our households like no other.  Sometimes even bills can't compare.  So in my quest to find cheap and effective solutions, I recently purchased a used Epson 4180 Photo flatbed scanner off from Ebay.  Mainly I was looking for a solution to get my negative and positive film into a digital format that can be shown on the web.  Printing the final scan is not really important to me as I can easily have them printed from a local lab when needed.

This scanner is different from most flatbeds in that it was designed for the photo enthusiast.  The photographer can scan photos, 35mm and 120 positive and negative film with little effort.  I have been using it primarily in "Professional Mode" which allows for better control exposure and cropping, and  I have to say that so far the results have been quite good.  Below is a quick scan I created using the 120 film attachment.

AddLower Cascades - shot with my Kiev 88.  Note that with no mirror lock there is a very slight vibration.  Hopefully that is a thing of the past with my new Mamiya RB 67 SD. caption

In my last post I wrote a quick review of my first test shots using the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD.  Below you will find a square cropped finished shot which was taken using the Mamiya Sekor 65mm lens at f32 for about 1 second.  The film was Fuji Acros 100 unfiltered and the lighting was provided by a single diffused photoflood .  Contrast was added post production so shorter shutter speeds could be obtained.

First, Let me say that the sharpness was better than I had expected.  The apple is just a little soft which I attribute to my own focusing mistake, but look at the corn in the lower right.  Not only is it tack sharp but there are no distortions which are common to wide angle lenses in the corner.  Had I used my 35mm with my cheapo wide angle it would have looked quite distorted near the right corner.

Secondly, notice there is no camera shake even at a 1 second exposure.  This was due to the use of the mirror lockup feature.  This really is a must have for those shooting macro, product shots or landscapes.

In conclusion, although the shot was rushed a bit and not the best composition, I think you can see just how versatile and high quality the Mamiya RB 67 remains in the 21st century.

Just for kicks I took another shot on the roll and did a little creative burning to give it more of a paint like effect in places.

Round 2 of testing my "new" Mamiya RB 67 SD.  My RB 67 SD body arrived several days ago so I figured it was time to put it through its paces.  In my last post, I outlined the jamming problem with my Pro S body and how it ruined my first shoot with the camera, but I was determined to not let that stop me, so I decided this time to setup a still life of harvest/fall type items.  At least this time I wouldn't drive at the crack of dawn to a waterfall and have it fail!

First let me just say that the shoot went very well. I set up some typical gourds, apples and Indian corn so I could test the lens and the mirror lock feature to its fullest.  For a lens I used the Mamiya 65mm Sekor C.  The shutter seemed accurate, the mirror lock worked, and the focus knobs were very smooth.  Anyway just a quick follow up until I actually get the film back from the lab.  Below is one of the compositions I created.

Most of the shots had a shutter speed of 1 second and I bracketed between f16 and f32.  I used a single 250 watt photo flood for illumination and a fill card to fill in some of the shadow.  The specular highlights seemed a bit hot so maybe next time I will add another sheet of parchment paper to make the diffusion a bit stronger.  Film was Fuji Acros 100 black and white.  I have never used this film so I am curious to see how it does.

Only a week ago I was singing the praises of the Mamiya RB 67 PRO-S, but that praise was cut short today by a total equipment failure.  Let me begin by saying that about three weeks ago I pieced together what I thought was a nice medium format system.  I bought an RB67 PRO-S body, backs, prism and two lenses from Keh camera. The system  looked clean and ready to take on the toughest photo assignment I could throw at it.

 At the top of my to-do list was the need to test the camera as quickly as I possibly can so I headed out to a nearby waterfall which was easy to access from the roadway.  I left for the falls about 5:15 am so as not to miss the nice morning light and longer shutter speeds this time provides.

I arrived at about 6:30am and got everything setup for my first shot.  The camera body was cocked,  mirror up knob rotated, removed the dark slide, placed my release into the side of the lens and fired the main shutter.  The mirror locked up as I expected.  So far so good, I thought to myself.  I was now ready to make my exposure.  "Click", the shutter fired or so I thought.  I released the cable release and re-cocked the camera.  The cocking lever stopped most of the way forward and it would not cock the shutter or return to its original position.  My heart sank as the light was now perfect for the exposure, but the lever would not release.  No matter what I did the camera would not cock and the lens was jammed on.  It was a total equipment failure and actually the first one I had had after many years of photography.

Disgusted and totally defeated by the camera, I headed to work.  I sat at my desk with a worthless hunk of junk sitting in front of me.  A quick search online showed that this camera was indeed subject to this type of jamming and the only solution was to push a safety pin into a hidden hole located on the front of the body to release the lens.  I finally was able to do this and release the lens but the body was a total loss.  It is totally junk.

So I am sending the body back to Keh for replacement or money back and I ordered a new PRO-SD body, hoping they might have fixed this fault in the latest manual iteration of the design by Mamiya.  I am still not convinced that the body failed at all.  It might have been the lens that caused the issues.  I did notice another problem with the body though.  The red guides in the body do not come down when I rotate the adapter to horizontal.

Stay tuned, I will keep you posted on the next trip to the waterfall and hopefully I will have some transparencies to show with the new RB body.
Every once in a while I have a kind of health heart to heart conversation with myself.  You know the kind of I am talking about.  The kind where you are looking in the mirror and notice that the love handles are slightly more than handles now.  The kind where you find it more of a challenge to turn around in the car to look behind you when backing up.  The kind where bending over to tie your shoes leaves you short of breath.  Well I could go on and on but I know you get the idea.

Inevitably the conclusion you come to after this one on one conversation is that you are just plain fat.  Immediately you begin to think about all those diets in your not so healthy history where you would lose twenty pounds only to put back on thirty.  So about a month ago I began a new angle on this whole fat loss problem.  So I started this journey by asking myself two crucial questions.

1.  Why is that I am fat?  The conclusion I reached is because I don't do anything and on top of that I pretty much eat what I want to.  It really seems quite simple when I put it like that but that is exactly in my mind what the problem is.

2.  What will it take to loose the fat?  Well certainly not by diets alone as this does not solve my health issues and only make me want more and more food.  Essentially you starve your body until it hits bottom and you go berserk on some cannolies.

I am sure everyone who has ever been overweight has asked themselves these questions in  the past but it is the second question that is the real "stump-er."  So I want to address what I am doing in response to #2.

The biggest change for me is joining the YMCA and using their Fitlinxx system.  For those not familiar with Fitlinxx, it is a computer based workout program that tracks calories burned, strength training  and overall cardiovascular fitness levels.  These categories when calculated together end up giving you fitpoints which give you an overall rating of your progress.  http://www.fitlinxx.net/

Cybex Chest Press - Can be used in the Fitlinxx system

So after a month of training it is giving me more strength and is meeting my fitness goals, but it does this in a way which is appealing to me.  The reallity is that it appeals to my sense of competition.  You see with Fitlinxx, not only do you compete with yourself, but you also compete against the entire YMCA branch.  Each month, the YMCA posts the top 15 males and females in strength, calories burned and total fitpoints.  This is a great way to keep yourself motivated.

The second part of the Fitlinxx health program is the equipment itself.  For example, strength training uses Cybex machines which the member utilizes in a circuit to target about every major muscle group in the body. This workout alone can be quite brutal.  Add to that a daily cardio workout such as speed walking, cycling or running and you are talking about a quality workout indeed.

Although Fitlinxx is a powerful system, I cannot simply ignore my diet.  I have chosen to go with a high protein diet mixed with fruit and veggies.  This combination gives me adequate energy and good muscle building.

In conclusion, I don't know if this will completely work for me. Only time will tell.  I have lost about 12lbs and have a great deal more strength so I do know that it works.  Now it is up to me to make it last.

I now have in my possession a Mamiya RB67 Pro S which I recently purchased from Keh Camera.  First, let me begin by saying that when I was entering the profession of photography back in the 90s these cameras were untouchable for the average, just out of college photographer, but due to the recent onslaught of digital cameras, these babies are being sold off by pros looking for the digital edge.

All of this is of course is good news for those like me who can buy a complete setup for under $200 bucks. That's right, this once untouchable camera is now a relic and can easily be obtained on eBay or Keh.  I have been like a giddy child at Christmas for a week now as the new parts to my camera system are delivered one by one.  To add to my excitement, film is also still readily produced for these cameras by companies like Fuji, Rollei and Ilford.  Fuji even makes a instant film for using the RB's Polaroid back.

OK, so on with my impressions.  The body for this camera is very sturdy and completely manual.  No need for silly batteries that always go dead on you anyway.  Perhaps one of the greatest features of the body is the  standard bellows which are attached to the focusing knobs.  This bellows unit instantly turns any lens into a macro lens.  No real need to buy expensive macro lenses. Next, attached directly behind the body is the rotating back hence the designation "RB."  This device is pure genius.  Simply rotate the back to either horizontal or vertical compositions and leave the body exactly as it is.  Finally, Viewfinders and prisms come in a variety of styles and are easily attached to the top of the body. Rotating the back also changes the marks in the viewfinder so one can better see how to compose the image.

The last piece to this photographic puzzle is the lens.  First, Mamiya lenses are known for being tack sharp. Secondly, the lens contains a leaf shutter mechanism so flash syncing can be done at any speed. The lens also contains the pc flash input and a place to attach a cable release.  Finally, the lens also has a button for mirror up photography.  Simply move the button to the mirror up position and those mirror slapped, blurry images will be a thing of the past.

The bottom line here is this camera has every pro feature you could ever want or need at ridiculously low pricing right now. So go out there and buy a old medium format camera and have a blast.

A friend of mine has started his own photography business and asked me to go on a shoot with him in a few weeks.  Of course, being a former semi-pro, it was hard to pass up the offer.  The idea of getting out there sizing up a composition and hearing the rattle snap and whine of my Kiev 88 shutter firing can be a great experience.

As you can well imagine one thought leads to another and so I began to thing about photography in general and where we have been as photographers and where we might end up as photographers.  My journey in photography started in college where I spent a great deal of time working for my college newspaper and yearbook as the photo editor.  I shot hundreds of rolls of 35mm and 120mm film and countless hours in the darkroom developing and printing the film.  It was a great experience and one that is not easily forgotten.

Today, film has been replaced by digital imaging and I have to admit that some of the romance of photography has left me.  Yes, photography is more than just the what type of medium is used to record the image.  It is still about lighting, composition and technology and I doubt that will ever change much, but the romance of the all manual camera combined with the mad scientist like environment for processing that film is nearing the end of its life.  Oh, please don't misunderstand me.  I am one who generally embraces change.  After all I am a software developer and software is constantly in flux and the only constant there is change, but somehow I hoped digital imaging would not impact photography as quickly as it did.

I would love to sit here and say that medium format film still has the advantage over digital, but I would be a liar.  About every test I have read proves otherwise.  However, if you want a challenge and you want to do something different and perhaps even for a moment,  exciting, take out an old manual camera and really think about what you are doing with it.  Think about the exposure and composition.  Concentrate on the shot and feel the patience begin to overcome the fast paced lifestyle of the modern world.  For a moment it is just you and your subject.  No modern, fancy electronic gizmo with digital screens for proofing your shots.  It is just you and your knowledge of light and composition.
I am about 8 months into developing with Objective C and XCode for the iPhone and I thought I would give a list of the pros and cons.

  • The navigation controllers rock.  There is no better navigation paradigm out there.
  • Watching your code run on an iPhone or iPad is a truly exciting event.
  • Adequate string handling

  • Sudden deallocation of an object even when that object is marked with retain.  This is a random yet completely frustrating event.  This problem tends to be less of a problem when using ARC, but if you are like me you have old code to maintain which does not use ARC and would take too much time to convert and debug.
  • Brackets instead of parenthesis - come one with the horrible smalltalk syntax.
  • In today's world of screaming hardware do we really need to allocate and deallocate our own objects?
  • XCode is horrific in comparison to Eclipse and VS.
  • Variable values displayed in the debug area are often just plain wrong.  Using NSLog shows the real values of the variables.
  • Debugging takes way too long! 
  • No overloading?  Yes, that's right, no overloading.
  • Dangling pointers even when the object is marked with retain
  • Poor examples on the Apple site including an example of how to create a singleton class, which as it turns out is totally incorrect.
  • No low level try catch block.  That's right, try catch is mostly worthless and should probably  be removed from the language.
  • Did I mention garbage collection is not present?
  • Method names are far too long and hard to remember.  Keep Google up and running at all times because you will forget the names.
  • You can use dot operator syntax with object.property, but not object.method

I could go on  but I think you get the point.


This is one of those code snippets that took me a while to find on the net so I thought I would put it here so maybe someone else might come across it without too much difficulty.  Its just one of those weird iOS development problems.

How to center a UIImageView within a custom cell?

    UIImageView *pic = [[UIImageView alloc] initWithImage:[arr objectAtIndex:indexPath.row]]; 
    pic.center = CGPointMake(cell.contentView.bounds.size.width / 2 , 60);
    pic.contentMode = UIViewContentModeScaleAspectFit;
    cell.selectionStyle = UITableViewCellSelectionStyleGray;
    [cell.contentView addSubview:pic];

 [arr objectAtIndex:indexPath.row]] is just an array holding my images.  It could be any image here.
"Easy now line up the sights and squeeze the trigger", my grandfather whispered as I held the Remington .22 rifle.  A moment later the telltale crack was heard as the bullet raced to the tin can sitting on an old stump only 20 yards away.  The can flew up into the air and I yelled "Yes!."  My grandfather, who had seen this many times in the past said.  Good shot but you didn't hit the can.  "What do you mean I didn't hit the can?  I will just run down to the stump and get the can and show you.", I replied.

Moments later I returned with the can and sure enough there wasn't a hole in it.  The only thing about the can that appeared different was a bit of gritty Pennsylvania mud on the base .  "You hit directly under it.",  Gramp said in a matter of fact way.   It didn't matter to me.  In my mind I was happy and I was totally hooked on this interesting device called a gun. 

What is it that attracts a man to firearms?  Perhaps it is the raw power one feels when behind one or maybe it is loud noise it makes when fired, or maybe the joy of hitting a tiny target 100 yards away.  I don't know, but whatever it is, is unique to men.  I know, I know women enjoy shooting also, but somehow I don't think it is the same as it is with a man.  There is something unique about a man and his shotgun or rifle.  Men have used guns to hunt food for their family, defend and fight for our country.  They are as much a part of America as the apple pie or the American flag.

Those who find guns appalling  need to understand how owning a gun is an American tradition that has shaped us. It is part of who we are as a society.  Personally I have no desire to hunt animals or harm others.  I simply and plainly enjoy shooting.  I have no trouble with those who hunt as it is an excellent past time which can provide the family with healthy and unprocessed food as well as various clothing items such as gloves and coats.  I grew up with hunters all around me and they are a great bunch of people.  I'd take a bunch of hunters as friends any day to the average liberal coward we have turned out in our major cities.

Well I am 38 now and I guess you could say I have my own .22.  One day, just as my grandfather did, I will take my son to the shooting range and show him how to hit that tin can.  Gramp, I love you, and thanks for taking a kid shooting.

Many years ago as a child, my mother thought that it would be prudent to send me for a dental checkup with our family dentist. She had made an appointment for me earlier in the month and the big day had finally arrived. Yep, the big day.  The day when I would find out what a dentist was, what he did and how he did it.

So we hopped into our VW Dasher and began the drive downtown.  The trip seemed  longer that day than most and my mind continually wandered onto thoughts about what this experience would entail and how my experience would compare to other stories I had heard.  Terrible!, terrible stories had been told to me by other family members. Including stories from my often animated Uncle Mark who could put the fear of God into a five year old boy with his dazzling talents.

Well the trip ended a  few minutes later and we made our way into the office parking lot finding a nice place to park near the front of the building.  Have you ever noticed you can always find a great parking place at the dentist office?  We entered the office through the side door and into an area I later was told was the reception area.  Entering this room, I glanced around to find fake plants, patients fidgeting and old torn, probably uninteresting, magazines littering  tables in each corner.

I took seat on one side of the room and my mother took the seat next to me.   The next half hour, I carefully watched each patient as one by one the poor souls  were called back to take their turn with the dentist.  Even at the tender age of five, I knew something was not right in this place.  Perhaps it was the look on the faces of the patients or the strange odors wafting in from the long hall whenever the hygienist opened the hallway door.

Well, it wasn't too long before my name was called and off my mother and I trudged down the hall and into an empty examination room. It probably wasn't that cold in there  but it seemed that way to me. My arms had goose bumps and my face had that funny tingly feeling you get when you have had too much sugar.  My mom tried to keep my mind off where I was, and told me I had nothing to worry about and that everyone has to go to the dentist.  Later, when I became a parent I found out that this tactic is about all a mother can do to help her poor child get through bad experiences and that the parent wants to get out of there just as much as the child.

 After a few minutes of sitting in the chair and looking at the pictures of teeth plastering the wall, I was greeted by the dentist.  He made a couple jokes that I smiled at even though I had no idea what he was saying or the meaning of what he said.  The man had short hair and seemed middle age to me, but he was probably in his early thirties at most. At five, everyone looks old.

The dentist began by shining a light in my face and examining my mouth with some kind of pick.  Every once in a while he would stop and scrape the tool on a tooth then tell me to spit in a little bowl mounted to the chair (this was before those suction things they use now).  After the exam  he turned toward my mother and informed her that I had a small cavity and should have it filled.  "Filled? Oh no!", I thought. "I remember this from those horrible stories my uncle told. I believe, in those stories, he may have mentioned something about a drill and horrific eye bursting pain." Before I could utter a word of protest,  a high pitched sound broke through my thoughts.  There it was, in front of me. What I now know as an instrument of pure evil.  It was...  The drill!  Now some of you are reading this wondering if I missed something.  Perhaps I missed the part about needles and numbing my mouth. No, no I didn't forget to mention that, this boy was being drilled without novacane, as they called it then.  Yep this guy didn't give me one drop of pain killer. He was going 19th century on me.

Of course, it only took a few seconds of drilling before I began to feel the pain. The smell of a dentist who had smoked too many cigarettes  combined with the smell of burning decayed tooth filled the air. I must have been turning white, because he glanced at my mom and  assured her that people my age do not feel pain when drilling and if the do it is very minor.  I can now and could at that moment say that was utter and total nonsense.  My job, however,  at this point was to be the tough little man and hang in there.  Pain was part of life, my Marine father often said.  This was one of those times where I would have to push through the pain and be a tough little Marine.

I don't know how long it took.  It seemed like maybe 15 or 20 minutes, but it was long enough.  When I sat up from the chair I was exhausted and laden with sweat.  I now completely understood what a dentist was, what he did and how he did it. All of my questions had been thoroughly answered without uttering a word.  He was a sadist quack!

My feelings toward dentists have not changed.  They continue with each visit to reinforce my ideas formed at a young age.  Perhaps there are good dentists out there but I doubt it.