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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "trebor1415" journal:
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My goodbye to Epinions.com|
I just got an e-mail that Epinions.com is closing up shop. I've been on that site since 2000 and it was the first writing for the web I ever did for money.
I just thought I'd repost the goodbye post I made over at the Epinions.com forum, as much for myself for when that forum goes down as anything.
My Epinions.com story - and Goodbye
Although I've been expecting Epinions to close up shop for awhile now, I was still surprised and saddened by the announcement.
I've had some success here and got to know some good people. I thought I'd review some highlights of my Epinions experience.
I joined on June 12, 2000 and wrote 91 reviews total. I was never very prolific: I wrote five reviews in 2000, and 1 each in 2001, 2003, and 2004 (I skipped 2002 entirely).
I got back in 2008 during a "10 for 10" promotion. I wrote 39 in 2008, 34 in 2009, and 10 in 2010, and none since then.
I was fortunate enough that my firearms gear and ammo reviews really took off in 2009 and I was top rated, site wide, for 11 months that year.
I had a total of 426,549 visits (3,285 member) which got me to #7 in Sports and Outdoors and #252 overall. I'm bummed I didn't crack that "Top 250" level.
My most successful review brought in $126.15 and my worst brought in 5 cents.
My favorite review was of my old Minolta X370 35mm SLR camera that I wrote in 2000. It was a very personal review of something very dear to me. Amazingly, it's still getting hits and bringing in about 25 cents a month even now!
(My second favorite is a book review of "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Clifford Stoll. One of my favorite books and another very personal review. It's also the first time I "let loose" a bit and tried some humor in my writing).
I've had reviews pay widely within those ranges. If you do a simple average of "money earned/# of reviews" it comes out to about $26 per review. Well worth the effort overall. (And yes, if you wanna do the math, you'll know my total earnings. Big deal).
Since I haven't written since 2010 I've just been grateful for whatever IS I've earned since I stopped writing. I've always been amazed that they continued to pay after I stopped contributing to the site.
Epinions definitely helped my writing career. My Epinions success in 2009 helped me get a title (column) at Examiner.com in Nov. 2009.
In addition to helping me get the Examiner column, writing about firearms accessories and ammo helped me develop the writing skills I now use for print magazines.
While the Examiner column (I have 3 now) isn't the most financial lucrative thing out there, I have had some success with it.
More importantly, I was able to use an Examiner article I'd already written to break into a brand new firearms magazine a year ago by agreeing to let them reprint it for free in their first "promo" issue.
That led to an ongoing relationship and I'm now contracted to write one article a month for them. I've had 12 articles published with them so far and have placed two other articles in two other firearms magazines based on those clips.
So, indirectly, Epinions played a role in all that.
As to people, I've enjoyed the people I met here. I've exchanged comments and e-mails with a few of you and there are a few I need to contact to get your e-mail to stay in touch.
That's my Epinions story. What's yours?
I'm not dead, just on Facebook|
Attention LJ friends,
I post on Facebook MUCH more than I post here. If you want to keep in touch, please, feel free to Friend me on Facebook. If you'd also send me a message with you LJ name so I know who you are I'd appreciate it. (That way I won't think you're a SPAMMER either)
My article on mastering the "Thumbs Forward" grip in GunUp magazine |
My article on mastering the "Thumbs Forward" grip is featured in the May issue of GunUp, the magazine. (So far I've had an article in every issue. My "Guns of James Bond" article was in the March promo issue and my article "The M1 Carbine for Home Defense" was in the April issue).
You can download the free promo issue (with my James Bond article) at the link below. You can also subscribe for the electronic or dead tree versions of the magazine as well.
GunUp Magazine link
My surreal Penguicon moment: Watching "Tron Guy," in full costume, completely *shred* an anti-gun argument in a panel on "How to reduce gun violence." He was passionate, articulate, and strangely dressed, all at the same time.
(I shouldn't have been too surprised though. I've shot with Jay at the Geeks with Guns events at Penguicon and he's actually a heck of a nice guy and pretty well spoken).
My name on the Wall|
A few years ago I had a pretty surreal experience. My wife and I were visiting D.C. and we stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Now, you have to understand that I don't "know" anyone on the wall. My Uncle Tom spent '67 to '68 as an Army Combat Engineer "in country," and my Dad was in the Navy at the same time, but they both came home safe. (As did my Grandpa Earl Reed, from WWII).
But, I've always been a military history buff, and I've read a lot about Vietnam, so I wanted to see the Wall. Since I didn't have any particular name to to look for, I just more or less randomly looked at particular names as I walked the length of the memorial.
When I got to the panel for 1967 I saw my own name there (with a different middle initial). "Robert W Reed." I had one of the Park Service guides look up his info in the book they had there and that's when things got really weird.
Robert W Reed was a Marine Killed in Action on April 5, 1967. That's the day I was born. Not just my birthday, but the actual day.
Ever since then I've been a bit haunted by this stranger that shared my name and who died serving his country on the day I was born. Every now and then I've tried to find more about him and finally, yesterday, I found new info posted about him on the web. I also found part of a newspaper article about his death and contacted that newspaper's librarian who is sending me their complete clipping file on him.
The story I've discovered is that USMC Captain Robert W. Reed was Company Commander, Charlie Company, 1st Battillion. 9th Marines. On April 5, 1967 he led his company on a sweep of Ap Dong Ho following an enemy ambush of a Marine Motor Supply Unit nearby.
The Charlie Company lead platoon, with Captain Reed's command group along, was 30 meters from the village when they were taken under heavy small arms fire from enemy troops in concealed positions. Captain Reed was killed in the first exchange of fire and part of the lead platoon position was overrun. He was later posthumously promoted to Major and awarded the Bronze Star (although I do not know if it was for this action or an earlier action).
The "Virtual Wall" had the following information posted on this incident:
The 3rd Motor Transport Battalion's Command Chronology for April 1967 contains the following entry:
"5 Apr - Two Otters received hostile fire while operating in support of Operation 'Big Horn'. This action resulted in one Otter disabled. Pfc R. J. FITCH received enemy gunshot wounds which penetrated his chest resulting in his death. LCpl L. H. UNDERWOOD and Pfc G. R. POBANZ received injuries. Pfc FITCH was manning the Otter's .50 caliber machine gun at the time."
This incident occurred at 1730 when the two M-76 Otters and their security force were ambushed while on a resupply run in support of Delta Company, 1/9 Marines, position. The Otters had run into a "U"-shaped ambush southeast of the hamlet of Ap Dong Ho (1) and were in immediate trouble with one Marine killed and eight wounded. Two platoons, one each from Charlie and Delta 1/9, were dispatched to assist the 3rd MT Bn Marines. The Charlie 1/9 platoon arrived at 1815 and found that the ambushers had withdrawn. Helo medevac was called in for the 3rd MT casualties, and it was decided that a sweep of Ap Dong Ho was appropriate in order to ensure there was no threat to the helicopters. The Delta 1/9 platoon, approaching from the northwest, was to move on the hamlet from that direction while the bulk of Charlie 1/9 would sweep from the southeast. The sweep began at 1930, but the Delta 1/9 platoon was stopped almost at once by heavy fire from the hamlet and entered into a two hour firefight before being ordered to break contact at 2130.
Charlie 1/9 approached to within 30 meters of the hamlet before drawing fire, but when it came it was devastating. By misfortune, an illumination flare had just been dropped - but rather than illuminating the enemy in the hamlet it illuminated the Marines moving across the open ground bordering the hamlet.
The Charlie 1/9 Company Commander, Captain R. W. Reed, was killed in the first exchange of fires, and the enemy took advantage of their "first kill" to envelop part of the lead platoon's skirmish line. They then broke contact and withdrew to the north before the Charlie 1/9 reserve platoon could engage them.
The enemy force, estimated to be of company size, left 17 bodies in and around Ap Dong Ho. Blood and drag trails indicated that another 40 to 50 VC had been killed and their bodies carried with the withdrawing VC force. The Delta 1/9 platoon had 2 killed and 24 wounded in the engagement; Charlie 1/9 had 15 killed and 20 wounded. Pfc Fitch from 3rd MT had been killed in the initial ambush, and two men from Charlie 1/9's artillery forward observer team were killed in the Charlie 1/9 engagement. The dead were
H&S Co, 3rd Motor Trans Bn, 3rd Mardiv, 3rd MAF
Pfc Ronald J. Fitch, St Johns, MI
D Btry, 3rd Bn, 12th Marines (Arty F/O team w/ C/1/9)
SSgt Leland D. Zahn, Harris, IA (Silver Star)
LCpl Harry E. Wagner, Trenton, NJ
C Co, 1st Bn, 9th Marines
Capt Robert W. Reed, San Francisco, CA (P/P to Major)
HM2 Philip R. Mattracion, Beacon, NY (H&S w/ C/1/9)
Cpl Robert H. Pettit, Charlotte, NC
Cpl Charles L. Salter, Birmingham, AL
LCpl Willard Brookens, Los Angeles, CA
LCpl Thomas E. Combs, Dayton, OH
LCpl Celister N. Harrison, Chicago, IL (DoW 04/06/1967)
Pfc Harold L. Carver, Joplin, MO
Pfc Leonard W. Elie, Alexandria, LA
Pfc James H. Fowler, Ponca City, OK
Pfc Paul L. Harrison, Hyattsville, MD
Pfc Alfred G. Lira, San Antonio, TX
Pfc Jerry W. Manning, Lamont, CA
Pfc Daniel G. Patrick, Salem, WI (H&S w/ C/1/9)
Pvt James A. Slagel, Joliet, IL
D Co, 1st Bn, 9th Marines
Cpl Chester E. Rowe, Lancaster, PA
Pfc Marion R. Hutchins, Jacksonville, AR
Here is everything else I've found on Major Reed. I am planning to get a copy of his records through a FOIA request and plan to post his picture on the various Vietnam rememberence sites. Right now none of them have a picture of him or his record of the Bronze Star.
Robert William Reed
Home of Record: San Francisco, CA
Date of birth: 08/01/1932
Service: United States Marine Corps
Grade at loss: O3
Note: Posthumous Promotion as indicated
ID No: 062450
MOS: 0302: Infantry Officer
Length Service: 16
Unit: C CO, 1ST BN, 9TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV, III MAF
Incident Date: 04/05/1967
Casualty Date: 04/05/1967
Age at Loss: 34
Location: Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire
My exclusive interview with Phil Morden from Top Shot season 3|
Here are my two latest Michigan Firearms Examiner articles
I was able to get an exclusive behind the scenes interview with Phil Morden of Top Shot season 3 after he was eliminated from the competition. The interview was so long I had to break it up into two parts. If you are a fan of the show there is some good stuff about the challenges, the personalities, and "WTF was up with Jake?" in the articles.
Here are part 1 and part 2: Part 3 is coming soon.
Behind the scenes of Top Shot season 3 with Phil Morden
Phil Morden talks about Jake Zweig's decision to quit Top Shot
Photo by Oleg Volk
One of my favorite writers has died. Joel Rosenberg was the author of the "Guardians of the Flame" series, "Emile and the Dutchman," and several other fantasy and SF novels.
I first read "The Sleeping Dragon" back in High School. This was Joel's first book about a group a college students who get transported from the "real world" into a fantasy world while playing a game based on D&D. The idea was well executed and the characters were interesting, believable, and likeable. It quickly became one of my favorite novels.
I never met Joel, but did correspond with him via e-mail several times over the years. I was a member on the Slovotskys-Laws fan site and enjoyed talking about his work with the other fans their. Joel and Felicia would occassionally post and I enjoyed the interaction. I was never able to attend any of the "SlotCon's" where the site members got to met Joel, and now I really regret that.
Joel was also a firearms instructor and RKBA activist. He trained many people to allow them to get their Minnesotta carry permit. He also literally wrote the book on concealed carry in Minnesotta.
To me though, I will always think of him as the author of some of my favorite books. I recently re-read "The Sleeping Dragon" and was looking for my copy of the second novel of the series to read through them again. I always enjoy them, but it will be more bittersweet this time.
My condelences to Felicia, Judy, and Rachel, and to all his friends.
Here is a link to Joel's site where Felicia made the announcement.
Missing the cats|
The house is so quiet without the cats. We visited Marie's Mom in NY over the weekend just to get out of the house. It was so sad to come back to an empty house.
I still can't believe we lost them both only a couple weeks apart.
We miss you, Merlin and Ford.
Merlin cat has joined his sister, Ford|
Our big cat, Merlin, went on to join his sister early Thursday morning. We lost Ford just 17 days ago and to lose her brother so soon is breaking our hearts. Merlin had a big "M" marking on his forward. Our friends had another cat named "Gandalf," so they kept the mage theme and thought "Merlin" was the right name to go with his markings.
Merlin and Ford were littermates. Merlin was the first-born, which is appropriate, as he was always adventurous. When our friends put the kittens on the kitchen table to show them to us, Merlin promptly started scrambling across the table. He didn't even have his eyes open yet, and he wanted to explore the world.
I picked Merlin, and Ford picked Marie. Marie took them to keep her company, as we weren't yet living together at the time. At first they looked alike, but Merlin grew larger than his sister.
When I moved in Merlin saw me as an interloper. He was jealous that I was taking some of Marie's attention. He'd let me know who was in charge by randomly coming up to me when I was on the floor watching TV to bite my hand. He wouldn't break the skin, but wanted to express dominance. We later reached an understanding and got along better.
When Marie got home from work Merlin would great her at the door. He'd sit with her on her lap or on the couch next to her while she read or watched TV. He didn't talk as much as his sister, but would give us each little "Mrmhps" as greetings. We also called him "Merfin" for the sound he'd make.
Merlin loved to play with the birdie-on-a-stick. We'd take turns casting the birdie in front of each cat. Merlin would do back flips and leap in the air to catch the birdie. He also loved his little blue foam ball. One time I saw the ball was across the room and said, "Merlin, get the ball." He promptly walked over, retrieved the ball in his teeth, and brought it to me. He must have decided not to set a precedent that he'd take commands though, as he never did it again. Either that or he didn't want us to know he understood English.
He also loved his little yellow stuffed fishie. We'd put catnap on it and he'd roll around with it. Even without the catnap he'd often hold it or sleep with it.
Merlin had his quirks: We used to keep Marie's bike in our bedroom and Merlin loved to lick the spokes. We never figured out why, as the bike hadn't been outside in years, and there should have been nothing on the spokes to interest a cat. Whenever there was a thunderstorm he'd get amorous and attack Ford. They were both fixed and Ford wasn't really receptive, so she'd smack him. We don't know what it was about thunderstorms that set him off. A year or so ago he started taking showers. He'd go into the shower stall and ask us to turn on the water. He'd then stand under the water, lick a little from the floor, and usually plop down on the tile. When we'd turn off the water he'd sit there for a minute or two, then leave and groom his wet fur back into shape.
Merlin loved to eat. He was an omnivore cat. He especially loved bread products. We had to keep our bread and hamburger buns in the only "Merlin free zone" on top of the file cabinet as he'd jump on the kitchen counter to nibble through the plastic to get the tasty bread. He also loved chocolate chip cookies. He'd jump on the table, steal a cookie in his mouth, and then jump down to eat it in solitude. He also tried apples and potatoes. We saw him knock a potato off the counter, pounce on it when it started to roll, and then take a big bite to kill his "prey."
He was a large cat. We put him on many diets, with mixed success. At his heaviest he was 20 pounds, but was thinner the last few years. When he wanted breakfast he'd come in the bedroom and whack the clock with his paw until we woke up or he knocked it off the table.
Merlin's mottos were, "Be adventurous. Try new things. Enjoy your food."
Merlin was fairly healthy most of his life. He did have allergies, and had a problem with lip ulcers for a while, but those were both successfully treated. He developed mega colon a few years ago, but was on daily meds that kept it under control. Surprisingly, considering how much he ate, he never developed diabetes.
We took Merlin in for a checkup about a month ago. His kidney values were a little high, but not alarmingly so. The vet said we'd want to monitor them, and, in the meantime, see if he could lose a little weight. When Ford died a week or so later Merlin's appetite dropped off. We thought he was mourning. He may have been, but it may have also been a sign of the kidney disease.
He was very weak on Wednesday and we took him to the emergency vet Wednesday night. He had severe kidney disease and one kidney was completely non-functional. Unfortunately, he also had cardiac problems and, as we learned with Ford, you can't usually treat both kidney disease and heart disease in cats at the same time. We took him home and had almost 24 hours with him. We cuddled him and he purred and snuggled us. When he started having trouble breathing we took him to the vet and let him go. He was comfortable and calm at the end, which is all we could ask.
We miss them both terribly.
We lost Marie's special little Ford cat today.
Ford joined our life as a little kitten. When we went to a friend's house to pick two kittens Ford crawled up Marie's arm, nuzzled her ear and purred. "Your mine, take me home now." We took her, and her brother Merlin (my choice), to live with us.
When I saw what kitten Marie picked I said, "You picked the two identical gray cats. How will we tell them apart?" Most of the time it was easy: Merlin quickly grew to be bigger than Ford. And, where Merlin was a bit of a grouch, Ford was always a sweetheart.
Ford bonded to Marie intently. She'd sit in Marie's lap for hours, sleep in her arms at night, and know that all was right in the world if Momma Cat was there. Earlier this year Ford taught Marie how to feed her properly. Ford was on a special diet so we fed her in the bedroom and kept her food on the dresser. One time Marie was asleep until Ford poked her gently on the forehead with her paw. When Marie woke up, Ford looked at Marie, looked over at the dresser where her food was, and then looked back at Marie. She repeated this until Marie figured it out.
Ford was named for a character in Hitchhiker's because she loved to cuddle up in towels. The girls at the vet's office thought Ford was a weird name for a girl cat and took to calling her "Miss Ford." We also called her that, and just "Little girl".
Ford loved to play with her feathers-on-a-string cat toy. Once she'd caught the "birdie" she'd grab it in her teeth and pull away until we let go of the stick. She'd then take her prize into the other room and force us to retrieve it to play some more.
Ford had a happy life with us for over 17 years. She was healthy until a year and a half ago when she developed Kidney disease. She survived the first crisis and we managed the disease OK until she also developed anemia. She'd still been doing OK until she had another crisis right before this last Christmas.
She rebounded a bit, and we gained another month with her. She had a good day with us yesterday, one of the best of the last month. She sat in Marie's arms for hours on the couch, which she hadn't done recently. She then took a bad turn over night and we took her to the vet in the morning. The fluids used to treat her Kidney disease led to congestive heart failure. It wasn't treatable so we had to let her go on without us this afternoon. It was the hardest thing we've ever had to do.
We both miss her terribly. Merlin knows something is wrong, but we're not sure if he know's exactly what yet.
She had a good life with us and we're glad she shared her life with us.
Ford catFord and Merlin
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