Cancelling a Citibank card, buying gun stocks

Sebastian notes that Citibank is pushing some “common-sense” measures like requiring all gun-related “clients who offer credit cards backed by Citigroup or borrow money, use banking services or raise capital” to raise the required age for buyers to 21, not sell bump stocks or Magazines of UnusualNormal Size, or sell to buyers who haven’t passed a background check (clearly they’re not familiar with federal law).

My wife has a Citibank card. We will be cancelling it immediately. We have other credit cards at banks that are at the very least gun-neutral, so this doesn’t affect our day-to-day spending at all other than not supporting Citi at all.

I’ve also made the choice to buy some shares in publicly-traded gun-related stocks, specifically Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Vista Outdoors (owners of Federal Premium Ammunition). It’s not a huge investment, only a few hundred bucks in total and a small fraction of my well-balanced portfolio, and I don’t think such investments will get me rich, but it makes me a voting shareholder which is nice. I mainly invest in index funds that, as part of their index tracking, own such shares, but I wanted to explicitly own those individual shares in addition to the index funds.

Heading back behind enemy lines.

I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there but, blog title notwithstanding, I’m not actually an Arizona native. I actually was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. How I got into shooting is a long story, but it involved a few locals, Oleg Volk, The High Road forum, and a few other online resources back in the day. I had moved to Arizona to go to university (Bear Down!), continued my interest in shooting, and started blogging, hence the name of this blog. Later, I ended up moving to Switzerland for grad school, but always planned on returning to the US (ideally to a free state) to settle down, work, etc.

Now, a decade later, I’ve got a bit more gray in my beard and a PhD hanging on my wall, and life is taking me back to the Bay Area for a new job (a postdoc), which I start in a few months. Although the job is fantastic and offers significant upward career mobility, benefits, the opportunity to be close to family and old friends, etc., the fact that it’s (a) in California and (b) in the Bay Area is a major downside in terms of gun stuff.

Things have really gone downhill on that front since I left years ago. Some things, like the absurd AWB, are still in place and haven’t really changed much (Banning “bullet button” guns? Really?), but other new things are really onerous (background checks for ammo purchases, no online ammo sales, soon state registration of each ammo purchase, etc.) and I’m not looking forward to that.

It’s likely that I’ll end up living in either San Mateo or Alameda counties, both of which are decidedly hostile to gun rights (though they have decent public ranges, shops, etc., but a CCW permit is essentially off the table), which is problematic. There’s also the possibility of living in San Joaquin county, which is a bit more CCW friendly (it’s not completely off the table). Cost of living in San Joaquin county is also significantly less, which is a plus.

The postdoc contract is only for two years, but many people are offered permanent positions upon completion of the postdoc, so I may consider it as a long-term career at the end of the contract. Who knows? I need to weigh many options, including career-related things, cost of living, family-friendliness, gun rights, etc. over the course of my time there to figure out what to do.

Anyway, I’ll continue to blog as usual (though hopefully more often, as there’s more opportunity to shoot there, clubs, etc. and I’ll have more free time). Wish me luck.

One year of being a dad

One year ago to the hour my wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter.
During that year my little one’s?taught me to smile more, enjoy the little things, smile at people on the train, snuggle with the people you love, and to not?be afraid to get down on the floor, roll around, and clap for no reason.
This last year’s been a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to each of the next steps in our lives.

Big news!

June 19th this year was a big day for me: it marked the four-year anniversary for my wife and I.
It’s also the day our daughter, Caroline, was born.
I now have a tiny person who, with my wife, I need to care for, raise, teach, learn from, listen to, and generally inspire to be the best person she can.
This is going to be?awesome.

Cool things seen today

While not a large city, Bern is the national capital of Switzerland and strategically located in regards to train travel.
Thus, the main train station is a hub for all sorts of stuff: local commuter rail, intercity trains, high-speed international trains going to or coming from France, Germany, etc.
Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw a steam locomotive with old-fashioned passenger cars cruising through the station next to its modern, electrified counterparts.
I’m not really a train buff, but that’s pretty cool to see.

Back in the saddle…sort of

So, good news: after two years of spilling liquid nitrogen on myself, pulling my hair out, hitting multi-million-dollar instruments with a socket wrench, and crying into beer late into the night I finally got my masters degree a few months ago.
Better news: I also got accepted for the PhD student gig here doing much the same work, which is fun, and for better pay, which is better. While it’s a lot of work, I can focus on my research and not have pesky classes taking up my time.
Mixed feelings: I’m still in Switzerland. This is a fantastic country and I love living here (though my German is pretty rough). We’ve settled in nicely and are doing well, but my wife and I miss the friends and family back home. Sure, we’ve got some friends here but living in a country where one has only a basic command of the language and spends ~10 hours a day in the lab is somewhat…limiting in a social sense. I haven’t been to the range in ages but maybe I’ll get a chance in November when I head back to the US for a whirlwind tour of weddings, Thanksgiving, and visiting friends and family.
Bad news: Now that my schedule is a bit more relaxed?less frantic, I should be able to spare a bit of time for writing here. You poor bastards.

On Commenters

Say what you will about the quality (or lack thereof) of government officials, I’m just exceedingly glad that the people who comment on news websites are not in charge. Holy crap, the stupid burns.
I suppose newspaper editors would have always had to deal with various deranged Letters to the Editor, but I was able to retain some faith in humanity because the editor would use some discretion to weed out the most absurd, crazy letters and so I’d only see the mostly-sane letters that they’d publish.
The Internet has served to enhance communication for people all over the world, and for that I’m pleased, but it’s also served to bring the crazies out of the woodwork. Some times it makes me want to disconnect and go hide.
That said, YouTube commenters are by far the worst, but I guess I’ve adapted to that and consider YouTube to be a video side with a side of fresh stupidity. I’ve not yet wrapped my mind around the same thing with news site comments.

Nice Weather

Switzerland’s warming up a bit, with weather being sunny and warm for the most part. Trees have fully grown back their leaves, there’s a pleasant breeze, and things have been going well in the lab. So far, this year’s doing pretty good by me.
This weather reminds me of one of the great things that Europe has to offer the world: sidewalk cafes. Sure, there’s outdoor seating at a lot of eateries in the US, but it’s just not the same as walking down the street, sitting down at a random cafe, having a drink, and watching the world go by. A simple, laid-back sidewalk cafe on a side street in Bern is great, but it’s nothing compared to the cafes in Paris. Truly one of life’s great pleasures.

Travels to Egypt

As some might recall, I traveled to Egypt and Jordan over the winter holiday. My wife and I took around 4,000 photos — we’ll spare you all the details and just stick to the highlights.
Both nations were fantastic: everywhere we went the people were pleasant, the sites stunning, and the food delicious. Everywhere was steeped with history. This post is briefly about Egypt, with a soon-to-follow post about Jordan.
At the time (about a year after the January demonstrations in 2011), Cairo had a bit of reputation for being unsafe and so there was essentially no tourists anywhere there. Fortunately, Cairo was quite safe and we ran into no trouble whatsoever and got to benefit from the lack of crowds at the various attractions; unfortunately, you could tell that business was slow for a lot of tourism-dependent merchants. Outside of Cairo there was a lot more tourists — the majority of tourists in Aswan and Luxor were Russians — and business seemed to be better, though the guides said that tourism has definitely been down since the revolution.
One of the great highlights of Egypt is, of course, the Pyramids of Giza. It should go without saying, but the pyramids are really big.

Continue reading “Travels to Egypt”