Arizona - We’re Still Number One

I received this via email from AZCDL. Despite the tainted results of Arizona’s election in November, we still came out on top for 2020. I and many others are now engaging with our politicians to keep Arizona safe from those who would infringe on our God-given rights to self defense. In the coming year, we will do our best to keep our state at the top of the list.

azcdl

In the February 2021 issue of Guns and Ammo, Arizona is rated the best state for gun owners. This is the EIGHTH consecutive year Guns and Ammo magazine has rated Arizona as the #1 state for gun owners.

Arizona’s #1 rating is primarily because of what AzCDL has accomplished. Prior to AzCDL’s involvement Arizona’s CCW system was onerous and discouraged applications. Permits were only good for 4 years and required training, testing and additional fingerprinting to renew. Court cases narrowed the interpretation of open carry to a point where the only way to safely openly carry your firearm and avoid arrest was by having a CCW permit. In self-defense situations, the burden of proof was on YOU to prove your innocence – after you admitted to the “crime.” Firearms preemption was Balkanized. Castle doctrine and “no duty to retreat” laws were weak.

AzCDL was created by a handful of activists in 2005 who didn’t like the status quo. By 2010 we achieved Constitutional Carry. CCW permits are now optional and the process to obtain a permit is more realistic. Arizona permits are recognized in the majority of states. Arizona is also one of the few states that recognize all permits from all states – again thanks to AzCDL.

Because of AzCDL’s efforts, you are now “innocent until proven guilty” when defending yourself. Firearms preemption has been strengthened. We were even successful in getting the Arizona Constitution changed to protect law-abiding citizens from law suits when they defend themselves. Visit our Accomplishments and Why AzCDL web pages to learn more about what AzCDL has accomplished.

We are proud that AzCDL’s efforts, with the support of our members, have again garnered this high rating for Arizona from such a prestigious publication. However, from our perspective, there is a lot more that needs to be done to make Arizona truly a free state when it comes to honoring your constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. With your continued support we can achieve that goal.

Here’s the link to join or renew with the Arizona Citizens Defense League:

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2020 IRS Returns in Progress

ir.pngBecause the tax program we use was a little tardy in getting all the appropriate updates (and some are still not ready) we are getting a later start than usual on the preparation of our annual tax returns. We know most of the numbers such that we can input them to the tax program to get a fairly close approximation of the actual bottom line for the tax year. According to early results, we seem to be getting a larger chunk of change than originally forecast for a couple of reasons; first, the entirety of the .gov “COVID Stimulus” went to charitable organizations which was above and beyond and in addition to our normal 501(c)(3) contributions. The second reason for the larger rebate is we decided to itemize some deductions that were to occur in 2021 by paying them in 2020. That got us to where our itemized deductions exceeded the generous standard deduction introduced by the Trump administration by a couple of thousand dollars which resulted in several more hundred dollars coming back to us.

Meanwhile, we’re waiting on the various income source institutions to provide the 1099’s that show the actual numbers which ought to be pretty close to those we already have put into the tax program since I have a spreadsheet for the purpose of tracking and estimation of the final numbers. So, we’re waiting patiently for the paperwork from the IRA, the pensions, the SSA and our financial intuitions to show up. I expect to be e-filed before the end of January for both State and Federal Returns which should result in our refund within a couple of weeks afterwards (if the irs.gov has their feces together, that is).

And, yes - I have already throttled back the Fed withholding for 2021 in hopes that we might break even next time or owe them a little bit. I hate lending the .gov interest-free money.

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One Decade in Our Desert Home

January 2011 January 2021

Images: January 2011 and January 2021 - click on either image to enlarge.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of moving into our little Desert House. We were sleeping on a box springs and mattress with no bed frame, sitting on folding chairs and eating/computing on a 24×48″ folding table - virtually camping in the new abode, but we were “moved in” a decade ago.

Just after moving in, we had a short list of fixtures to be acquired and installed, plus some other improvements to be made. This is the list from ten years ago:

  1. gate2.jpgCourtyard - We spoke to our contractor last week and gave him specifications for a wall and gateway to enclose part of the house to form a courtyard in front and a dog run on the side of the house. We will have an estimate to build the wall this week and will ask that the work be scheduled right away.
  2. red-bird.jpgLandscaping - After the wall is up and the gate has been installed, we are going to start landscaping the yard. This will take some time to accomplish but we are planning to put gravel down on the RV drive through and in the courtyard. Later, we will bring some of Damsel’s cactus from California.
  3. shutters.jpgShutters - Today, we ordered shutters for several of the windows. We contacted a vendor in the Phoenix area that offers a southwestern shutter style that will match our Santa Fe style and will look very nice inside and outside of the house. The wood and stain will match the wood of the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  4. sw-furn.jpgFurniture - We promised ourselves that most, if not all of the furniture in the new house, would be new. This week, our first priority will be to get a dining room set. Gradually, we will be acquiring furnishings and decorations that are appropriate to the old west and Santa Fe style that we love.
  5. door.jpgSecurity Door - We probably don’t need this door for security as much as we want the southwestern style and the ability to open the front door and let the air in and keep the bugs out. I contacted a vendor that is willing to travel to Wickenburg to meet with us and to measure the door. He will also install the door when it is complete. The style we select will match the color and style of Damsel’s sconces.
  6. screenmobile.jpgScreens - While driving through the neighborhood, I noticed a screenmobile parked about two blocks away. I took down the number and called our neighbor who installs custom screens. He came out to our property and immediately furnished a quote for screens for all the windows.

Some things turned out to be different from the list, but we got a lot done and are still making minor improvements. Very soon now, we will be getting all new furniture for the great room and new kitchen appliances now that the original stuff is a decade old.

Even after a decade, we thank God that we are here and out of the former residence. It feels good to be here and we remain very happy in our little desert home.

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Emmanuel - God Is With Us

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The first chapter of Matthew, in the New Testament, describes the lineage from Abraham, down through King David and eventually through forty-two generations in all from Abraham to Joseph, the Husband of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Thus, because of a decree from the Roman Emperor to the citizens of Judea, Mary and Joseph were destined to go to the City of David, in Bethlehem, where the Christ Child was born.

Later, also in the first chapter of Matthew, comes the annunciation of the Angel of the Lord as delivered to Joseph in a Dream:

. . . behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The prophetic scripture referred to in the last sentences is from Isiah 7:14 in the Old Testament.

In these days of muted activity during these unusual times and circumstances, we remind you that the Spirit of God is still as strong as ever and through that Spirit, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope for joy in the new year of 2021. We pray for you to stay well, to be strong and to be prepared for whatever eventualities that may be in store for us in these bizarre and interesting times to come. May God Bless Us All.

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38th Annual Toyz 4 Totz Cruise and Car Show

Damsel and I went to our usual first Sunday of December event which is the Cops Who Care and Remember When Cruise Wickenburg Run for the benefit of local kids at Christmas (see poster below). We packed in a couple of unwrapped toys to donate to the cause even though we didn’t participate in the cruise. We consider it a photo op and an enjoyable trek down memory lane.

As usual, Damsel took a lot of photos but these three caught my eye to post here today. There were several Jeeps (Mfg. Willys) on display at the show. The first two images below are of a very clean (and new-looking) Jeep. I recall driving the Navy version of one of these for the Division I served in at NAS Point Mugu in the early 1960s and this one reminded me of that vehicle.

Clean Jeep Front View Clean Jeep Interior Modified Jeep

Well, as you can see, the third image is of a slightly modified Jeep. I didn’t get to talk to the owner, but the card in the window said it had a “blown big 8 cylinder block” for the engine. I had an urge to ask him to start it up so I could hear the unmuffled sounds of the eight chromed exhaust ports. I resisted and was satisfied to have the photo of the beast. Click on any image above to enlarge.

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Thanksgiving Day 2020

Smoked Turkey BreastDamsel and I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. We plan to celebrate with a feast consisting of Smoked Turkey Breast with Gravy, Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, Green Bean Casserole and Pumpkin Parfait Dessert. A feast indeed.

Image: Smoked and Sliced Turkey Breast. Click on the image to enlarge.

The image is from our 2018 Thanksgiving Dinner. We expect the same results today.

Since we are both on low carbohydrate and low-sodium diets, the dishes mentioned above are prepared using reduced salt and Keto® friendly ingredients. The turkey breasts are commercially-available such as Jennie-O™ or Butterball™ brands. They come frozen in a pop-in-the-oven plastic bag. We open the bag and discard the accompanying gravy packet. We rinse off all the coatings on the breast and soak in clear water to remove the brine. After applying our own poultry seasonings, we pop it into the smoker and set it to cook slowly over the next few hours.

As I write this, I can smell the smoker doing its thing out on the patio just behind the office where I sit. We are looking forward to today’s feasting. We will be thanking the Lord and asking Him to bless the feast, our country and all those celebrating this day of thanks. We wish all of you a festive and Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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Cataract Surgery Report

Lens ImplantIn August and then again in October, I had eye surgeries to replace aging lens elements in my eyes with artificial implants designed to eliminate cataracts and to correct visual acuity.

Image: Lens Implant similar to those now in my eyes. Alcon© AcrySof™ Click to enlarge.

My guess is that millions have had their cataracts replaced but this is my story and observations. The surgery is quick and painless with perhaps a small amount of discomfort that quickly abates afterward.

In my case, as I grew older, I became nearsighted and had to wear glasses to fly, drive and do anything that required distance acuity. I removed the glasses to read and work with things close-up. Kind of a pain in the ass without bifocals, and I hated bifocals so I did without. This was before progressive lenses were available.

After a while I wore a contact lens in one eye only so I could see distance, but the uncorrected eye was perfect for reading and working on the computer at home and work. No glasses other than shades were involved. This technique is called “monovision” with one eye corrected for distance and the other used for close work.

Then, about 23 years ago, I had Lasik® surgery to fix my right eye only in order to eliminate the need for a contact lens. Still monovision, but now independent of corrective lenses. I had glasses made for driving where the correction fixed the nearsighted eye and corrected for astigmatism in both eyes. I eventually added progressive corrections so I could seamlessly switch between the distance view and the instrument panel or GPS. That was the status quo up to the surgeries this year.

The left eye surgery was a standard lens replacement while the right eye was a bit more complex, which I will describe below. After the left eye was fixed, one of the first things I noticed was a rather pronounced difference in color perception between the fixed eye and the unfixed eye. With the left eye, white looked white and with the right eye, white looked yellow-ish. Blues were vivid in the left eye and dull with the right eye. I guess I underestimated how big an effect that cataracts have on your vision.

I mentioned that the replacement surgery in the right eye was more complex. When I had Lasik® in that eye I had no idea that it would affect the cataract surgery in that the cornea became distorted. To correct the cornea problem, a second procedure was needed. Before the lens replacement process, they put me under a machine that made contact with the cornea and fired several laser blasts to reshape it. Immediately after that the lens replacement took place with an additional measurement to determine which lens power to use. The surgeon then selected the proper power and completed the surgery.

All the follow up appointments with the ophthalmologist went well. I was now seeing 20/20 with the right eye and the left eye was suitable for close work and reading. This month, I ordered two pairs of prescription glasses - one pair of shades with progressive lenses for driving and daytime outdoor use and another single-vision clear pair for watching TV and other night time use.

Damsel and I were out the last couple of evenings watching the ISS fly over. As a bonus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Saturn were gathering together in the southwestern sky in a gorgeous asterism. And Stars! So many Stars all now brightly focused and brilliant. I can SEE!

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