Guns Blazing

On Sunday, David treated me to a bachelor party.  Given two facts – David being my only guy-friend and me being pretty androgynous when it comes to doing manly things – we did not round up the dudes and go to a strip club. Plus, that’s weird and icky. Instead, I learned how to use a gun.  Six guns, actually.

David and I rolled out with his dad and two brothers to Florence Junction, where we parked in a secluded area by a moderately sized cliff-face.  David’s dad went over gun-safety with me while his brothers set up some cans, and I put on some glasses and earmuffs.  I’ve never held a real gun, let alone shoot one, so I was pretty green to this whole scenario.  I should preface the following sentences with the fact that I’m probably getting some of these names wrong.  But anyways, I took a couple of pot shots with a 22 and actually hit my target the first two times (big surprise, let me tell you) before playing with a Glock 17 and a Remington (pistol and shotgun – I’m learning!). When we set out to reset the cans and find some better targets, I found two shot up computer monitors and couldn’t resist. By the end of the day I also fired off an AR-15 and a SOCOM, of which the latter had its own shockwave that we could feel several feet away from the shooter, and which gave me a bruised arm.  As we wrapped up, I fired a few rounds out of an old-fashioned revolver, which made me feel very much like I was shooting in the Southwest.

All in all it was a lot of fun and something I had never done before.  I’m not exactly signing up for the NRA, but I definitely wouldn’t be against going out again.  It was pretty interesting to learn about the different guns (David’s dad is an instructor, and all the guys knew at least something about guns given boy scout experience and whatnot) and to play with some big boy toys.  That, mixed with a little bit of video-gaming and some delicious In-n-Out Burger, made for a very nice bachelor party.


WIP Wednesday: Wedding Edition

Thanks to our wedding, I’m bringing back my one-post-long Work in Progress Wednesday series!  For the past few weeks Kim and I have been working on our centerpieces for the wedding on-and-off.  The goal is small collections of vases on every table, with some sparse stems of flowers in each.  We bought a plethora of clear vases and candle holders at various Goodwills and have been spray painting them white.  We’re excited to see how they come together.  It’s been fun being slightly crafty, and not so fun to see a handful of vases get all crackly and messed up.  All in all it’s been good though.  Tonight we’re putting the finishing touches on a few before our florist swings by to pick them up.   Regardless, we’ve got a garage covered in vases and spray paint, and the florist will be working with them to ensure that it’s all pretty!

A number of vases drying

These are just some of the finished ones

Misfit vases.

“Dr. No” Got the Message

Roughly a year ago, when local lobbying was at its height for the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, the bill’s co-sponsors tried to pass it by unanimous consent.  With more co-sponsors than any Africa-related legislation in modern American history, it was a good idea.  And then Tom Coburn stepped in.  Known for blocking everything that costs more than a penny for Congress, Coburn had decided that the LRA bill would be one of his many stands.  He he blocked a bill with bipartisan support from the country at large, including his state’s senior senator , and thousands of his constituents.  Needless to say, grassroots organizing got a move on.  Quite a few of my friends, from across the country, held a vigil in front of his Oklahoma City office 24/7 until he took the hold off.  All told, the vigil lasted eleven days before a deal was reached, and the bill passed the Senate the next day.

Dr. Coburn was in the news again this past week for being one of the more vocal opponents to the 9/11 health bill.  The bill would have compensated a number of first responders who were suffering from health problems related to 9/11 and the rescue efforts that followed in the rubble.  After Jon Stewart hosted a number of first responders on his show to call out opponents, the general populace started getting up in arms about it (including Rudy Guiliani and Mike Huckabee).  After all the uproar, Coburn finally decided to give in (after bringing down some costs, obviously).

I’m all for being careful with money and watching where the government spends money, but Coburn has gone to the extreme. He also blocked aid to Haiti after the earthquake there, among other hot topic blocks.  It seems like he always needs a level of shame before he’ll back down.  I hope he gets smarter about where he chooses to put his foot down in the future. It’d make government work a little better, which – according to Coburn – has been his intention all along.

Remembering December

In early 2008, the Juba Peace Process between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army failed.  In December of that year, a joint offensive by Uganda, the DRC, and South Sudan invaded the LRA’s hiding place, dispersing the rebels.  It was a messy, ill-advised attempt at apprehending rebel leaders and freeing abducted civilians.

On Christmas Eve, the LRA lashed out at the local population, destroying whole villages. In the ensuing month, as reported by a number of news papers and human rights groups, the rebels killed at least 900 people and abducted at least 160 children.  They rounded up villagers who had been celebrating Christmas, tying them up and killing them with clubs, axes, and machetes.  A number of women were raped and whole families burned.  In the following year they would kill over 1500 and abduct over 3000, 700 thought to be children.

In December of 2009, the LRA issued a warning – saying they would celebrate Christmas with the people of the region. On December 14th, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the military incursion, the rebels lashed out again, attacking a number of villages and towns in eastern DRC.

This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for a week or so.  It’s about something that has me worried.  It’s December.  It’s almost the two-year anniversary of the beginning of hostilities and one-year anniversary of the 2009 attacks, as well as the two-year anniversary of the Christmas Massacre.  Who knows what the LRA are planning this year?  Having spent a good four years learning about this conflict, and having met a number of victims in Uganda effected by the LRA, I’m worried for the people of the DRC, CAR, and Sudan.

On this subject, the Obama administration’s LRA Strategy was released almost two weeks ago, and I’ve been reading and reviewing it.  I’ll put up a praise/critique soon, hopefully. After two years of relative peace from 2006-2008, these past two years have been pretty brutal for the people of east-central Africa.  I’d like to see it end.


It’s Christmas time in the Ross-Smith house!  Last week we got out all of the decorations in preparation for the big holiday season.  This week (and some of next) we’re wrapping up school work and we’re officially a month out from the BIG DAY, so it’ll be a busy month.  I’m taking a break from the first of four papers to toss up some pictures of our winter-themed house! I’ll be putting up quite a few posts soon, so take this as a preview of sorts.

Happy Holidays, everyone!