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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Myrtle Beach Vacation, Thursday, January 24, 2013

JC Leahy
We slept until 10:30.  Dali made fruit smoothie for breakfast, to which I added a large bowl of raisin bran and a cup of coffee.  After breakfast, we each did our own activities around the house.  I installed optional windows updates, including drivers, on my laptop in the hopes that Muvee would install.  But Muvee still gave me the same error message about the video card or driver, and refused to complete installation.   I gave up on Muvee.  I’ll either contact their tech support when I get back home to Silver Spring or I’ll just install on my other laptop.
At noon, Dali and I went for a walk around The Links grounds, followed by a one-hour workout in the gym.  We ate lunch at 3:30: boiled butternut squash, canned sardines, couscous, and mixed vegetables.
After lunch, Dali went out to search for a Sears store.  I stayed to read and study.  When Dali returned, we had couscous and milk for dinner, followed by table tennis in the clubhouse, and more working out in the gym. 
Time files!  Tomorrow will be our last day before we have to pack it up and return home from vacation!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Myrtle Beach Vacation, Wednesday, January 23, 2013

JC Leahy

When I arose at 9, Dali was still sleeping.  On second thought, I went right back to bed myself.  After all, we're on vacation!  We got up again at 9:45 and ate a breakfast of pancakes and fruit smoothie.  We left the TV off and chatted during breakfast.

Afterwards, we disported ourselves around the townhouse.  I studied income taxes.  Shortly before 4, I suggested to Dali that we go out and find a shooting range for some target shooting.  She said she'd go shooting if we could stop at a furniture store first.  That was a deal. 

There are at least 3 shooting ranges in or near Myrtle Beach.   I tried to find them on Mapquest, but Mapquest doesn't do well with Route 17 addresses.  However, on the way home from Huntington Beach State Park, I had seen a target range and saved its location on our Garmin GPS.  We decided to go to that range.

First, we stopped at Casual Furniture World.  It's a fairly small showroom stocked with furniture that looks like it belongs on a backyard patio or sun room.  They have some okay things -- if that's the kind of furniture you need -- but the prices seemed steep.  The saleslady said they ship nationwide.

The target range marked on the GPS turned out to be the Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range.  It only had two shooting stations, which were located in the rear of moderately large gun store. There was a waiting queue to shoot.  We signed onto the list by filling a liability waiver.  I had brought my .357 magnum revolver and .32 ACP pistol, with ammunition.  They examined my ammunition, discussed it, and declared that it was okay to use it on their range.  Apparently, some bullets contain iron, and those are not safe to use on this particular range.  That's interesting.  While we waited, Dali looked at some women's purses.  She tried to negotiate a discounted price with range co-owner Connie Gragg.  Mrs. Gragg refused.  She seemed oddly amused that Dali was haggling about price.   I engaged one of the salesmen in talk about how guns-store business is booming (for now) since Obama began his gun-control rampage.  I told him (and the rest of the folks in the store) about how Bass Pro Shops down the street couldn't keep up with demand for ammunition.  The salesman responded that the Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range gun store couldn't keep up with demand for military-looking rifles. I told him I had just bought an AK-47 in Silver Spring, Maryland, and had a hard time finding one to buy anywhere.  He showed me an AR-15, saying it was the last one in the shop and would definitely be gone tomorrow.  Would I like to buy it?  No, I'm a Maryland resident, so I couldn't buy it.  No problem!  Maryland residents can buy long guns in South Carolina.  I could take it home with me.  How much?  $1,800.   What caliber?  It's a .223.  Nope, a .233 is too light.  I need to be able to drop a deer with whatever rifle I own.   The AK-47's 7.62x39 mm will drop a deer about as well as a 30-30.  But what I did need was a hunting scope for my new AK with some light gathering capability and a very wide field of view.  Something to help me get a quick bead on a moving target (deer) in dim light.  After some consultation with shop co-owner Ted Gragg, they recommended a NoStar 4 reticle reflex sight.  They handed me a 9 mm pistol with one of these sights mounted on it.  I wanted to know if it would stand up under the heavier kick of an AK-47.  Mr. Gragg said it would.  So I bought it.  I'll have a gunsmith mount it when I get back to Silver Spring. It looks marvelous, and all the Amazon reviews confirm that it was an excellent recommendation.

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Before we entered the shooting area, I gave Dali ear plugs and ear muffs for double ear protection against loud noise. I started Dali with the Beretta Tomact .32 ACP semiautomatic pistol.  She learned how it works and all about  basic range safety.  She didn't actually manage to hit the large target at 30 feet with 2 clips of ammo.  On her third clip, she became unnerved by the difference in trigger pull between single-action mode and double-action.  Flustered, she made a quick exit, back to looking at the ladies handbags.   I practiced shooting with my .Taurus .357 magnum revolver for another 5 minutes.  The lady at the other shooting station managed to shoot the target-handling cable apart, and the range had to be shut for 10 minutes of repairs.  I went back out to the sales desk and completed my purchase of the NcSster reflex sight.  Dali bought a book that Mr. Gragg had published (Guns of the Pee Dee).  She had him autograph it.  Then we headed back home to The Links.

On the way, we made a stop at Costco.  Dali did some food shopping.  I went to the Costco 1-hour photo counter and tried to turn in my roll of film for developing.  The clerk advised me that they don't do film anymore.  Wow!  That's substandard!  Costco in Maryland does a great job with film and they do it in an hour. 

At The Links, we didn't even stop at our townhouse before going to the gym and exercising for 45 minutes.  I'm not losing weight; I'm still at 197 pounds!!

For dinner we had leftover tomato bisque soup and crackers.  We watched The Fugitive movie during dinner, and went to bed afterwards.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Buy a Gun In South Carolina

JC Leahy

Visiting Myrtle Beach this week, Dali and I went to the Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range.  Located right on Route 17 in Myrtle Beach, the range, owned and operated by Connie and Ted Gragg, includes an extensive gun store.  They also have an adjoining Civil War Museum.

While I was there, I interviewed staff about how to buy a gun in South Carolina.  For South Carolina residents, you just bring your drivers license to the store, fill out a Form 4473, and buy your gun.  This refreshingly simple procedure applies to both long guns and handguns.  There is a Federal background check which from my understanding is more or less instant.  For out of state buyers, the procedure is exactly the same for a long gun.  Out of state residents cannot buy handguns in South Carolina.

At the range, I introduced Dali to firearms safety and handgun operation.  We used my Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP semiautomatic pistol. This is a small weapon with relatively minimal noise and kickback. Mine is stamped "Made in Maryland," which is where I bought it.  It was her Dali's first time to fire a gun.  I can't say exactly that she took to it like a duck takes to water.  In fact,  I can't say, at a range of 30 feet, that she hit the target.  She did, however, learn the basics of gun safety and how to operate that particular pistol.  Afterwards, she purchased a copy of The Guns of the Pee Dee, a book apparently about archaeological history written by Ted Gragg, owner of the shooting range.  Needless to say, she had Mr. Gragg autograph her copy of the book.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Myrtle Beach Vacation, Tuesday, January 2, 2013

JC Leahy

I arose at 9.  Dali was still sleeping.  I got online to check e-mail.  I did a little writing.  I did a little shopping.  I sent my friend Josh an e-mail thanking him for the invitation to his Redskins playoff party, saying I wish I could have attended, and suggesting that we get together soon, perhaps for billiards. I wrote my trip journal a bit.   I went to Amazon and ordered a cheap wired microphone and a DVD of Grand Hotel.

At 10AM I got a text from Peggy at work.  It said, "Call me ASAP."  "Oh, no!" I said to Dali. "Trouble at work!!  I called Peggy immediately.  She was there with my boss Deborah on speakerphone.  There was no crisis at work!!"  Peggy said the text was a joke -- they just wanted to pull my chain by making me think there was a crisis.  They just wanted to say "Hi."  Deborah left and I chatted with Peggy for a while.   I gave Peggy some pointers about how to help the new front desk secretary do a better job.

Dali made breakfast.  After breakfast I spent until noon reading and writing downstairs while Dali watched TV and did her activities upstairs.  At noon, we went to the gym for exercise.

Lunch was corned beef hash, fresh mixed vegetables with cabbage, and carrot juice.  We watched the first part of a DVD movie while we ate.  It was The Aviator, with Christopher Reeves, which I had picked up somewhere for $5.

After lunch, I suggested we go to the clubhouse.  I could  read and study taxes and Dali could read.  Then we could play table tennis, or billiards.  Dali said she would rather go out and check out a furniture store she spied along Route 17.  So we went out in the minivan, Dali driving.  Our first stop was a rundown little furniture shop full of rundown looking furniture, run by a rundown looking man.  The next stop was the furniture store Dali actually had in mind: J and K Furniture.  I amused myself with the thought that it lucky Mr. J and Mr. K didn't have a third partner named Unger.  Then the place would be called J, U 'n K Furniture.  Yuck, yuck !!  J and K Furniture had a nice selection.  We managed to escape without buying anything.  Then, just to balance the shopping trip, we stopped at Bass Pro Shops for me to look around.  I always like to look at sporting goods shops.  I spent $10 on a camouflage colored baseball hat.  I like hats and I was in the mood to look like a redneck.  I thought I might pick up some .32 ACP handgun ammunition because I was planning to introduce Dali to target shooting and I didn't want to get ripped off at some shooting range on the price of ammunition.  The sales clerk directed me handgun ammunition section.  It was extensive.  This particular Bass Pro Shops had one side of an entire aisle with shelves for handgun ammunition.  However, the shelves were nearly bare, and there was not .32 ACP left at all.  I went back to the sales clerk, who was helping a man with a handgun pouches.  I pointed out that the shelves were empty and asked when they would be restocking.  He said they just got a truckload  that morning, that the shelves had been fully restocked.  Now they were empty.  They'd be getting another truckload in soon, but Bass Pro Shops hadn't been able to keep up with the demand for ammunition since Obama began his galactically ignorant rant about how to reduce crime with gun control. While making my counterclockwise circuit of the Bass Pro Shops store, I looked at kayaks.  Dali and I have decided that the we need a pair of kayaks to offer with the new rental beach house we are outfitting for next summer.  I made a note that I liked the Ascend D12 kayak, although at around $600 it seemed a little pricey.  Later checking on the Internet, I discovered that Ascend is a Bass Pro Shops store brand, so you either take it at their price or find something else.  The online chatter is to look for something else for a better price at Gander Mountain.

We got out of Bass Pro Shops only $10 lighter than when we entered. When we got home and I looked in the mirror, I decided that the camouflage hat made me look old. I'd have to be careful about wearing that hat. For dinner, we had instant tomato bisque soup soup, fresh vegetables, and water.  We watched the remainder of The Aviator while we ate.  Then we went to the gym.  I weighed in at 188.  Dali weighed in at 2 pounds more than Monday.  We need to figure out why we're not losing weight.  I think it's the generous servings of fruit smoothies.  We exercised in the gym for an hour.  I "officially" started my tax study, reading the first few pages of my latest tax textbook and unwrapping the 3x5 index cards I plan to use for flash-card study.  We were in bed by midnight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Myrtle Beach Vacation, Monday, January 21, 2013

JC Leahy

We got up at 9.  Dali dressed fast, gave me a fried egg, and told me to hurry up and dress so we wouldn't miss the 9:30 weekly activities presentation in the clubhouse.  The Links management conducts this meeting every Monday morning to orient new guests to local activities and to make everyone aware that management has an inventory of repossessed timeshares to sell cheap.  That's how we got our timeshare here in the first place.  Years ago, Dali's friend Lorna visited The Links and phoned Dali at home in Maryland.  Lorna reported that there were awesomely cheap timeshares available and urged that Dali should bring me right away to buy one.  So we drove from Maryland to South Carolina and bought a timeshare.  Actually, it's worked out really well.  At this meeting this morning, the real estate lady with the cheap timeshares made a cute remark about how House Speaker Bainer had flubbed Obama'a first oath of office 4 years ago. She hoped that didn't happen again today.  I corrected her that it Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts who had made that mistake. The Chief Justice administers the presidential oath of office, not the Speaker of the House.  I had two cups of coffee and a doughnut.  The activities laid out at the meeting included a shopping trip to a nearby Tanger Outlets mall, a day of offshore gambling on a casino ship, a winery tour, and a paraffin waxing.  Additionally, on site at The Links, the management desk has tennis rackets, billiards equipment, and table tennis balls and paddles.  I asked Dali if she would like to play tennis.  She said maybe, but how about table tennis.  She asked me to get the details of the winery tour, which I did.

After the meeting, we had more breakfast.  I ate 2 more fried eggs and a large fruit smoothie.  I remarked that the rosemary in the smoothie was an excellent touch.  We watched an old Rock Hudson-Sidney Poitier movie, Something of Value, about the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, while we ate.  As we ate, we solidified a plan for the rest of the day: shopping for Dali followed by a wildlife photography outing for me.  I wanted to find some wild alligators to photograph.  I got some good alligator photos a few years ago, and I wanted to try again.

So I loaded up my .357 magnum revolver and threw it in my camera bag -- in case an alligator took an undue interest in me.   I mounted my 70-300 zoom lens on the camera loaded with ASA 1600 film.

At noon, we went out to shop at Barefoot Landing, as planned yesterday.  As we pulled away from The Links, however, Dali declared that there was probably "nothing" at Barefoot Landing,  We should go somewhere else, she said.  She suggested Tanger Outlets, about 5 miles away.  So we went Tanger Outlet Mall and spent a couple of hours looking for nothing in particular.  I bought a souvenier from the Disney shop for my friend Peggy, who is crazy about all things Mickey Mouse. I looked at kitchen timers for the endoscope disinfection room at work, but they at $8 each they were too expensive.   I noticed that many of the men following their women around shopping looked vaguely dazed.  I wondered if I looked that way.  Dali saw some decorative rosemary in a planter in the middle of the concourse.  She picked some for cooking.  As we left Tanger Outlet Mall, our judgment was that the prices weren't great and the lineup of stores was mostly the usual cast of chain retailers.

We went north from there around 30 miles to the Huntington Beach State Park.  I didn't find any alligators.  The temperatures have been around 70, but locals said that is still too cool for the alligators to be out.  We did however, see a bald eagle, some waterfowl, and some shore birds.  There was a guy there with a 400 mm sigma lens on a digital camera who showed us some EXCELLENT eagle pictures.  I took a few eagle shots with my 300 mm lens.  Since I have slide film, I would have to wait a couple of weeks to see how my pictures turned out.

On the way back to The Links, Dali wanted to stop at either Wal Mart or Costco (I picked Wal Mart), a Lowes Hardware, and any plant nursery, and some furniture store she spied.   Only the Wal Mart stop actually happened.  Dali bought a couple of little things there.  I stopped at a Dollar General store and bought the 3 kitchen timers I wanted for the endoscope disinfection room at work.  It's crazy that we have to buy things like that out of our own pockets at work, but procurement at the Veterans Administration can be such a hassle that you end up spending your own money on supplies and minor equipment.

Back at The Links, we ate bean soup and tofu for dinner, plus a smoothie with rosemary.  I drank another NOS energy drink.  I think NOS works. I'm thinking that if it does, it will help me get through this tax season.

After dinner, we went to they gym.  Dali was excited to weigh me.  She thought I must have lost 5 pounds by now.  Instead I had gained 5, weighing in at 200 pounds.  Her own weight held steady, which disappointed her also.  She selected the movie Divorce American Style for us to watch while we exercised.  I worked out  with extra vigor.  For more than an hour, I used mostly the elliptical machine, but also the situp bench and some weigh lifting.  Afterwards, my weight came in at 198 pounds.  Dali calculated that if I could lose 2 pounds in an hour, I could certainly lose 15 pounds by the end of the week.  Great.

We watched an old movie in bed until around 1:30 am, when I dozed off to sleep.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Myrtle Beach Vacation, Sunday, January 20, 2013

JC Leahy

I woke up to the smell of pancakes.  Dali made us a fruit smoothie, too. I made some coffee.   After breakfast we planned the day: First, the gym, followed by a stroll around the neighborhood, and then a trip to a shopping mall.  Dali very much enjoys shopping.   We exercised in the gym for 45 while watching a Danny Kaye movie called the Inspector General.  We finished the Inspector General at the townhouse.  I put my old Canon digital camera on charger. I studied how to use a lavlaier microphone with my old Sony Dital-8 movie camera. I updated my Windows-XP online, and then made another attempt to install Muvee-8 video editing software onto my Toshiba laptop. No dice: Muvee's error message said that my video card or drivers were too old to support Muvee-8.  .

We took a stroll around the neighborhood.  The weather was  a beautiful 70 degrees and sunny  For lunch, Dali made bean soup, mixed fresh vegetables, and sautéed tofu.  She says I'm going to lose 10 pounds on this vacation.  Great.

By the time we ventured out for shopping, the sun was nearly setting.  Our destination was the  Barefoot Landing shopping mall, but the sun was so intense in our eyes that we halted at Roses, instead, to wait for the sun to set. Roses is a discount department store with such attractive prices that they encourage purchases  I only needed two 9 volt batteries for the lavalier microphone and some shampoo.  Dali didn't need anything in particular.  Nevertheless, we ended up spending $168 at Roses.  It's funny how that happens.  The Roses cashier advised us that we should forget shopping at Barefoot Landing because all those stores close early on Sunday.  Accordingly, we decided to save Barefoot Landing until tomorrow, and went back to the townhouse.

We spent the rest of the evening there. We ate more of the bean soup.  I chugged a can of NOS energy drink with it.  I'm experimenting with energy drinks to see if any of them makes sense for me.  I did some writing, and studied a bit more about wireless microphones.  It dawned on me that a wireless microphone is only a wired microphone plugged into a transmitter. That's simple.   For a movie, I chose The Transporter, and Dali chose another Danny Kaye movie, Hans Christian Anderson. So we watched both.  Later we watched Predator-2.  Guess who picked that one! :)  My laptop backup has taken several days. I was able to suspend it for travel from Maryland to Myrtle Beach, and started it up again last night.  It's 96% complete.  Dali is still washing the incredible pile of dirty clothes she brought from home. We worked out in the gym until 10:15. Then to bed shortly before midnight.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Arrival at Myrtel Beach - Saturday, January 19

By JC Leahy
Jan 20

Saturday, we checked out from the Wilson Quality Inn at 11:15. I had slept poorly.  Our first stop was the furniture store Dali had been looking forward to seeing again: Hope Furniture, in Wilson.  Hope Glover is the owner, she has two daughters working with her.  When we stopped there last year, Dali found the perfect table for my office, and a perfect Japanese woodblock print too.  This year, we bought a crystal-chrome-and-leather desk lamp for my office and a fern stand to replace my existing bedside table, and an elegant, round lamp table for the piano room.  Then, on the way to Myrtle Beach, we stopped at Cox Warehouse Discount Furniture, in Whiteville, NC.  At Cox, we chatted with a chemistry teacher working part time at furniture sales.  I told him he sounded like James Garner. We stopped at Cox Furniture last year and didn't buy anything then or now.  Their furniture selection is nice, but the prices are a bit higher than Hope's.

We arrived at The Links Golf and Racket Club at 6:30. We checked in and unpacked the mini van.  Before I even had the van unpacked, Dali had started her first vacation activity: laundry.  She brought an incredible quantity of dirty laundry from home.  She always does that on vacation -- something about saving water at home.  Then she cooked boiled eggs, rice and tea for dinner.  We watched some Fox News on TV while I cruised the Internet, checking e-mail.  I ran a virus scan on her PC.  I started a backup of mine.  I put my old video camera on the charger.  I took a bath.  Dali took a shower.  Then we went to bed. 

How to Buy a Gun in Maryland

By JC Leahy

If you think you might like to own a gun in your lifetime, you might want to think about buying it asap.  I just bought an AK47. The gun stores are overwhelmed and largely sold out.  I think I got the last available AK47 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Aside from the shortage of actual guns in stores, buying a gun is not difficult.  All you have to do is go to, work your way through the Powerpoint-like presentation, print the little certificate at the end, and take the printout to the gun store.  Mail the top stub of the printout to the police address given.  The gun store will have you fill out 3 other forms.  Then you have to wait for the police to approve you to have the gun.  That's currently taking about 3 weeks.

Bottom line: buying a gun is simple, but you should think about doing it as soon as possible.  Here are some additional gun buying resources.  Atlantic Firearms has an online catalogue and shopping cart.  Check it out.  Also, my son-in-law points out an online classified site for private sales:

We're Off to Myrtle Beach!

By JC Leahy

Dali and I are on the way to Myrtle beach for a short vacation.  We usually stop in Wilson, NC just because we like to look around the place.  Dali likes to see a Hope's furniture store in Wilson.  I like to look around Wilson and get a sense of how America is doing outside the economic bubble of Washington, DC.  We always stay at the Wilson Quality Inn. We like  its  outstanding complimentary breakfast and the exercise room, among other things.  It's sad to see now that it's going downhill.  When we first approached our Room 211, there was another couple standing in the hallway.  The wife was histrionic about how "disgusting" her room was.  I pondered how lucky I was to not be married to a hyper-complaining woman like that!  After  we had settled into Room 211,  Dali complained to me that the bathroom ceiling was spotted all over with what appeared to be mold.  She had me look at it. It certainly appeared to be mold or mildew.  Then I noticed the tobacco burn holes in one of the bedspreads.  I threw on my suitcase to hide it.  (I just wasn't in the mood to complain to management and haul our extensive luggage set to another room.)  When Dali got out of the bathroom, she observed that the bed skirts were crumpled and didn't look clean.  I replied that at least the sheets were clean, and the room didn't smell as bad as the first one we looked at.

It wasn't until alter at 2 am when I jumped out of bed in my bare socks that I realized that the carpeting around the bed was wet.  Not damp, wet. Wet with WHAT, I wondered.  When we got up this morning,  Dali noticed the suspicious stains on the room's loveseat.  I wondered exactly WHAT someone had been DOING on that loveseat!!   The breakfast this morning was as outstanding as ever; however, I examined the lobby and common areas with a newly critical eye.  I found peeling and watermarked wallpaper and dark spots suspicious of mold.  Next time we visit Wilson, I think we'll try another hotel