Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Made It

Sorry to be silent so long. The move was pretty nuts, and we're just getting to the point where we can move through the house without tripping over boxes.

The best news is...  [drumroll]

Behold the future home of my gunsmithing business!
Hyde Gunsmithing (future)

Right now, it needs a lot of work. The walls are horrible and there are no interior walls, but I'm getting a hell of a break on the rent for 2 months, and the full rent is damn cheap. I move in on December 1. I can't wait to get started.

The most important thing is that this shop is in downtown Booneville, which means it has foot traffic, and is easy to find. My place out here in the sticks is way too far off the beaten path.

More pictures when they become available.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Please Stand By

We interrupt this broadcast to move to our Ranchito in Arkansas. Transmissions will recommence when we get the office and gunshop/workshop set up again.

Hasta Lasagna,
Michael and Tish

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time = Money

Which would you rather have; a giant house and stuff that you spend your life to pay off, or a simple house with your loved ones and time to spend together? I can tell you which answer your credit card company wants you to choose.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Remembrance

 To honor the heroes and victims of 9/11 I'm going to eat pork, drink alcohol, look at pictures of nude women who aren't my wife (and yet still treat my wife like my equal and partner), and make fun of Allah. I may, if I'm feeling especially patriotic, French-kiss a man. In short, I'm doing everything that Al-Qaida hates. Let's Roll...

2:30PM  Eating pork rolls and worshipping Fat Buddha! Take that, Al-Qaida!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Update to Freedom

We're about 37 days out from moving back to Arkansas, and not a minute too soon. One of our friends who watches our place found a black suitcase hidden under one of our trees next to the road. Turns out it was a portable meth lab kit. Fuckers.

The cops were called and their hazmat guy took it away, but we need to get home soon before the tweakers decide my living room is a great place to set up a factory.

God damn to hell whomever invented meth.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shotgun section complete

Well, I finished the shotgun section, and I'm glad to see the back of it. The sections on pumps and autos was fine, but the pivot barrel guns were presented kind of haphazardly. Bob Dunlap was really all over the place and he kept jumping back and forth. I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't pass that section.

The test packet has been mailed off and I'll just keep my fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Second Certification is In

I just receieved my Pistolsmithing Certification from American Gunsmithing Institute. I'm happier than a bucket of puppies! I've still got a long, long way to go but I'm definitely on my way.

Let the Triumphant Yodeling begin!

In other news, we're moving back to our place in Arkansas in 70 days, at which time I'll start looking for a space to lease for my shop and start the process of getting my FFL.

And there was much rejoicing...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Progress Report 6/28/2011

Not much has changed. Still working on the revolvers section. Naturally,  single-action revolvers are pretty simple and straightforward. Double-actions are a bit more complicated, but not confusing. The problem lies in their fussiness. There is so much linkage twixt click and bang that they get out of alignment/timing very easily. And when you adjust something at the clicky-end, it throws something off at the bangy-end.

Give me a pistol any day of the week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Progress Report 6/20/2011

I've completed the sections on DA, SA, and striker pistols. I'm starting the sections on revolvers now.

I really wish I had started this path 10 years ago.

My only complaint is that the videos from AGI are really old. They transferred them from VHS tape to DVD, and the audio gets sketchy in places.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Progress Report 6/15/2011

Finished the SA pistol section. Ended up going through it three times to make sure I got all of the nuances. This has taken 2 weeks so far and I'm only on disc 2. I have dozens of discs to go!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Progress Report 6/9/2011

I completed the section on single-action, short-recoil pistols last night. I then was able to take my Sigma apart, deduce the linkages, and plan the trigger job for it. Considering the Sigma is a striker DAO Glock clone, I'm feeling pretty smug.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Progress Report 6/7/11

I may need to start this blog over again, because nothing has worked out even remotely close to what I planned.

I have given up on Murray State College, because as of this date the only correspondence I've gotten was a form letter that my financial aid packet had arrived; which is pointless because I'm not going into debt if I can help it.

Still have not heard ONE FUCKING PEEP from the gunsmithing program.

So I contacted the American Gunsmithing Institute and enrolled in their program. I've finished the introductory portion and sent in the exam, and completed watching the section on the 1911 tonight. The courses I enrolled in also include welding and machining. As part of the package they are sending me a bench lathe, drill press, foredom tool, and all the hand tools I need.  So I'm getting the education I need AND all the shop equipment I require. I don't need to share any of it with other students either.
Here's the best part; it cost me $15,000 less than going to MSC, and won't take 2 years of my life. Getting those 2 years back is the best part of this program.

Good hunting, y'all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Her Drunk Kitchen

OK, on first look you might think that has nothing to do with gunsmithing. But she's ADORABLE and reminds me of my friends. But more importantly, she's escaping the cubicle by doing what she loves and making it pay. Somehow. I'm a little fuzzy on the payday, but she got a trip to England out of this, so she must be doing something right.

In any case, I applaud "My Drunk Kitchen" and wish her the best in everything.

"Any port wine in a storm"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MMmmm... This shoe is tasty.

I STILL have not heard anything at all from MSC. Their web site now states the cut-off for the gunsmithing program is May 31st?  WHAT THE FUCK? Why did I have to rush my application in back in January?

Way back when on February 27th I spaketh thusly about NRA-sanctioned schools:
"These programs attract the best instructors and receive material support from the NRA and several firearm-related manufacturers."

Dealing with Murray State College, my school of choice, has been such a colossal cluster-fuck that I am giving up on the community college idea altogether. In fact, I was so fed up with dealing with Murray State College I started researching the video courses at American Gunsmithing Institute.

In that same post, I also spewed forth:
"If you're planning on opening a shop and becoming a professional gunsmith, video courses are a waste of time and money."

Well, I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong wrong. The AGI courses have 5 distinct advantages over going to an NRA-school.
  1. They're on video, so you can play them back over and over.
  2. They're about $20,000 cheaper than MSC, if you get the basic course.
  3. Most of the classes are taught by Bob Dunlap. He's the instructor who taught my friend back in the day. He's the best of the best. (As opposed to the ass-clowns at MSC.)
  4. If you get the enhanced course, (which includes a machinst and welder course) you also get the bench lathe, a drill press, bench grinders, hand tools, and welding kits that you need to setup your own shop, so you can start practicing immediately. And the enhanced course is still $13,000 less than MSC.
  5. It doesn't take 2 years of your life. Hell, I taught myself computers, programming, technical writing and network administration. How hard can gunsmithing be, for me,  when I have step-by-step instructions on DVD?

I'll probably attend the NRA summer courses at MSC at some point, but I wouldn't bother trying to get a degree there.

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Laser Power

I attended the orientation class for the Epilog Laser at the TechShop in Menlo Park last night. I'm already signed up for two welding classes next week, but I think I'll get a monthly membership for this facility.

The amount of equipment they have is amazing! I wish I'd gone to TechShop a couple years ago. I'd be way ahead on the gunsmith curve by now.

Update 5/22/2011:
The Epilog laser is an amazing machine. I just don't trust the company behind them. When we went to get a quote from the local dealer in Milpitas we were lied to by the salesman. He showed us a list of "regular prices" and "sales prices", but the sales prices were the MSRP. When we contacted Epilog their response was basically, "Oh yeah, that's how we do things."

So while I'm still very interested in getting a CO2 laser engraver, I will NOT be buying it from Epilog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almost there

I'm not quite into the program at MSC, due to a missed phone call/voicemail sometime in March. However, I'm the first alternate. While I don't wish anyone ill, I hope someone in the top 20 gets a better offer somewhere else.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On pins and needles

According to the admissions person at MSC, they'll start letting candidates know by phone and mail tomorrow if they were excepted or not.

My stomach is in huge knots. I haven't been this scared since Twelfth Night opened.

Fingers crossed, I hope I hope I hope, please please please!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Holster Update #3

"I'll be a blue-nosed gopher..."

I finished the holsters up last night. They're pretty good, for a first try. I have a shoot coming up this weekend, so I'll let you know how it goes next week. Preliminary test draws were smooth, and re-holstering was sweet. They look like shit though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Holster Project Update #2

Mexican Loop
Well, two things are going on here. I finished fabricating the brass plates for keeping the holsters open, and put together the tools for the copper rivets.

On the other hand, I plastic wrapped my guns and wet-molded the holsters last night. This morning I pulled the Vaqueros out and the leather was very stiff and hard in the shape I wanted.

One side note, if you're going to wet-mold cheap leather you can not give a crap about the appearance. I ruined the finish, but fortunately I'm going for a beat-up look.

Soooooo... I'm going to let the holsters dry completely and give them a try. The problem I'm seeing is that these are mexican loop holsters, which means the buckets get crushed between two layers of leather. So, I'm going to convert these holsters to my version of a Hollywood holster; the bucket of the holster is riveted to the backflap, so the bucket doesn't get crushed. This isn't a problem with holsters that slide onto your belt, you just feed the belt through. On my drop slides though, it's a permanent installation. I could install snaps instead of rivets, but, well, that's not period. 

However, I've set aside the brass plates and I'm keeping those in reserve, just in case the wet molding idea doesn't work.

As I get further down this project, I'm beginning to see myself shelling out money for new holsters. But that's OK, these crappy holsters will get mounted inside my bucket.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Holster Project Update

"Skin that smokewagon and go to work!"
~Fictitious Wyatt

Holster Collapse
I think I'll go ahead and wet mold the holsters. I read up the trick of wrapping your guns in plastic wrap to protect them.  I'll do that tonight.

I strolled down to the hardware store and picked up a couple brass plates, a scratch awl, tin snips, and a leather punch. Cost: $30.

If I had purchased new holsters, the cost would have been $300 and would have taken 3 to 6 weeks for delivery. So I'm already $270 ahead, plus I'll have unique holsters. Victory is mine!

I had no idea how easy it was to shape brass plates with tin snips. This project is going a lot easier than I thought. The snips also made short work on the holster leather that needed trimming.

All I'm waiting on now are some copper rivets and a riveting tool from Tandy leather. There are no leather crafting stores in the South Bay, so I had to order them online. This raises the cost to $46, but I'm still $254 ahead. I also will have yet another tool, and about 50 extra rivets for other projects.

I also installed a panel in my bucket that lets me separate out the empty cases and hulls from the rest of the bucket. I used the zenith of the civilized world, shoebox cardboard and duct tape. Cost: Negligible.

Cowboy Gun Carts

"Circle the wagons and load your guns!"
~Wagon Masters, circa 1870

When I first started visiting SASS matches I was struck that everybody has a gun cart. It's a wheeled cart that holds your long guns, plus your ammo, supplies, tools, drinks, and usually has a place to sit down. At the time I thought that was kind of silly, but I was wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong wrong! I'm just using a six gallon bucket with a seat lid on it, and carrying my rifle and shotgun by hand. However, the rules state that long guns must always be pointed up. That means I have to make two trips every time we move from one stage to another. I missed the description of the shooting instructions on my second stage because I had to go back for my bucket! The folks with the carts just drop their long guns into their racks and wheel to the next stage.

A lot of these carts have built in work trays, so you don't have to wander off and find a place to sort things out. I was always looking for a horizontal surface to put my task on. I've decided that a gun cart is a necessity for a serious shooter.

There is a company that makes gun carts, but most of the carts I've seen were either built by the owner, or built as part of a cottage industry. There are also many plans available for sale on the Internet. Usually they're either made of wood, or welded up with angle iron. This makes them pretty heavy and bulky, but very sturdy.

I'm really looking forward to getting to the Ranchito (and all my tools) and making my own cart. I have some ideas for my own version. I'm really liking my bucket seat too, so I'll be making something that looks more rustic but incorporates a place for my bucket. I've got tons of cedar on my land, so I'm going to rough it out using limbs and branches, and only buy some wheels. Ideally, it would also work as a cart for hauling out deer carcasses, or maybe even on a pheasant hunt with Pop.

Check us out at

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Cowboy Action Shoot

"Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!"
~A Fellow Fat Man

I attended my first match at my local Single Action Shooting Society club down at Coyote Valley Sporting Clays last Saturday. I had an awesome time, and I can't wait till next month.

I was planning on taking lots of pictures showing the action, but there was never a slow moment. It's not just about taking your turn to shoot. If you're not loading, shooting  or unloading, there's plenty of other tasks; counting misses, picking up brass, making sure the guns are unloaded, filling your shell holders, grabbing a sip of water, etc. About the time you think you have a minute to take pictures, it's time to move to the next stage!
Coffee round the campfire.
My overall time was something like 276 seconds over four stages. That's about 70 seconds per stage, but I shot 3 of the stages clean (no misses). The winner's overall time was 87 seconds, or something equally disgustapating. Yeah, I'm snail-ass slow. On the other hand it was my first match, and the winner was some kind of national competitor or something. Meh. I'm only competing against myself.

The thing that slowed me down the most (besides my fat ass) was getting the empty hulls out of my double shotgun. The other shooters have their chambers polished, so they just do this backwards jerk thing and the empties fly right out. I have to pick the hulls out with my fingernails. About 60 seconds of my time was the ten to fifteen seconds it took for me to pick them out. Sometimes I'd have to shoot 6 or 8 shells to knockdown the targets. Five seconds spent picking hulls per reload really adds up. My first gunsmithing project is going to be polishing the chambers on my shotgun, so I can do that jerk trick.

One serious problem I had was my holsters. They kept collapsing after I drew the guns out, making it tough to get the guns back in. Of course, my first instinct was to buy new holsters. However, I don't throw money at my problems anymore. I'm going to get some thin brass plates and fix them, forcing them to stay open. I'm also going to look into wet-molding them. I'm not worried about ruining the holsters, I'm  worried about the process ruining my guns; wet leather and guns don't mix. I'll post pics as things go along.

However, I had a KICK ASS TIME! I can't wait for next month! The best part was getting faster as the day went by. As I climbed that experience curve, I had more and more fun. My rate of fire was way higher by the end of the day, but I was still hitting every target. It was kinda tai-chi-ish. I was going slow at first, yet correctly, so I wasn't missing, but I was easily picking up speed as I went along.
Fine, upstanding citizen.

I don't have a lot of experience with cowboy guns either. I've always used 1911s, DA/SA pistols, and semi-auto rifles. I never really got into shotguns either, so this makes my learning curve doubly steep. For example, during a practice session I tried to fix a problem with my rifle by racking the lever. On an AR-15, if the gun just goes click it means you've got a bad round, so you rack the action and keep going. Turns out the safety on my cowboy rifle was on, but the hammer still dropped and went click. All I had to do was turn the safety off and re-cock the hammer with my thumb, but my instinct took over and I racked the live round out onto the ground. That counts as a miss, and you're not allowed to pick it up. Oh well.

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to try cowboy action shooting, the Coyote Valley Cowboys have a program where they'll rent you the guns and supply all the ammunition you'll need for about $100. They're really nice folks, and you'll have a great time. It's a great way to give cowboy shooting a try.

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Permanent Record? Pffftt Yeah. Right. What. Ever.

"I hate high school, man! I can't wait to get out and just be a man, man. This is so fuckin bogus, man! I'll show you! This wasted 4 years of my life! Who needs a stupid old diploma! Who cares, man! This is all bullshit man! I'm free, man! Screw you, high school! I'm never going to school again!"
~Me - 1984

Fast forward 27 years. I had to go back to my old high school and get my transcripts sent to MSC. I can confirm that those chairs are engineered to make you feel insecure and inadequate. When I stood up, I felt like a adult. Sitting on *those chairs* made me feel 16 and surly again. It's the combination of the kindergarten colors, and the fact that they're exactly 80% the size of a real chair. So those chairs unleashed surly teen Me who promptly started running around the base of my brain stem, rocking out to Pat Benatar, and rolling up a new D&D character.

When I got a look at my transcripts, my mature self was appalled, but teen-Bubba was cheering! Looking at my transcripts you would have assumed I was still saying "Welcome to Sizzler, can I take your order?"

So I'm kind of perversely proud of how well I've done. However, if I could go back I'd kick my ass. Now that I really DO want to go back to school and get an education, I'm screwed! Even though I have the money and will, I'm so far behind the curve on the education track I don't have enough time to catch up and still have enough time to have a career afterwards.

Soooo... If you're graduating high school and you think college is a waste of time, that you're gonna go out and "keep it real," at least get an AA degree at your local community college. It makes everything easier later on, when you figure out what you really want to do.

On a side-note, your high school won't give you a copy of your own transcripts, it's against the law or something. But they will let you read them over in private. And it's probably illegal to take 30 or 40 pictures of them with your camera phone. So whatever you do, don't take pictures of your transcripts with your camera phone and mail them to yourself!

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Choosing a Gunsmithing School

"He's too old, yes..too old to begin the training... " 


The first hurdle I encountered in becoming a gunsmith was choosing a school. My criteria were simple. It had to be:
  • Close to my home in Arkansas.
  • A legitimate school.
  • Not buried in snow all winter.

The schools I found broke down into four basic groups:

NRA-sanctioned schools
There are only four community colleges in the US that offer gunsmithing programs that are sanctioned and supported by the NRA:
  • Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA
  • Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, CO
  • Murray State College in Tishomingo, OK
  • Montgomery Community College in Troy, NC

As you can see, these schools are scattered equally across the nation. Murray State College was my first choice because it's only a five hour drive from the Remote Ranchito, so I can go home on the weekends. MSC also has the best dorm situation of the four, in my opinion.

These programs attract the best instructors and receive material support from the NRA and several firearm-related manufacturers.

The thing that surprised me was how hard it was to apply for the program. My parents were both instructors in the community college system, and I had always been taught that anybody could enroll, no matter what. But the program at MSC requires a background check, a face-to-face interview, and they only accept 20 students per-year. And you have to apply early; they form the classes in April for the following fall. If there's a tie between candidates, they use the date of the application as a tie-breaker, so get your applications in early.

Non-sanctioned schools
The only non-sanctioned community college program I've heard about is at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ. I was sorely tempted to apply to this program, as one of my best friends lives in Prescott and I could have crashed with her. But there was a lot of drama involved in her life and I couldn't be sure that the living situation would last two years. If that happened, I would be stuck there with no friends and no way to get home easily.

Besides, the fastest way to kill a friendship is to live with a friend.

Some master gunsmiths offer apprenticeships in their shops. Basically, you work in thier shop for little or no money, and then once you are trained you work for them for a certain number of years. The main advantage is that it doesn't cost much money to the student, and the mentor gets a lot of free labor.

I don't think the apprentice model is a good idea for me. Here are my reasons:
  • It takes five years to complete a basic apprenticeship, and then you have to work for a certain number of years before you can strike out on your own.
  • Your "diploma" is only as good as the reputation of your mentor.
  • Your mentor can fire you at any time, simply because of economics, and you have no recourse.
  • You only learn the things that your mentor works on. This leaves large holes in your knowledge.
  • Most importantly, you can only learn from your own mistakes. In a classroom environment, you benefit from everyone else's mistakes.

If I was much younger I would be  more open to apprenticeship, but I'm running out of time.

Video Courses
If you're planning on opening a shop and becoming a professional gunsmith, video courses are a waste of time and money.

If you are NOT planning on working on anyone else's guns, then you can probably get away with the various video courses you see advertised in gun magazines or on the internet. The only life you are risking is your own. But if you plan to work on other people's weapons, you must get hands-on experience under the direct instruction of qualified teachers.

It's like learning dentristy by mail. If you want to pull your own teeth and save a few bucks, go right ahead. But if you say you're just as good as a real dentist and start working on other people's mouths, you're a douchebag.

Tune in next week when I find out what my father thinks of all this.

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"Well, how did I get here?"
~ Talking Heads

I want this blog to document my journey through the process of becoming a gunsmith. But in order to write that story, I need a prologue. If you don't know where I came from, you won't know why I'm going down this path.

This is probably only interesting to me. Feel free to skip ahead.

First off, I'm fat. Always been fat. Probably always be fat. I got depressed when I was 10 and my parents divorced, and so I got fat.

When I was 13 my mother put me on an extreme diet which got rid of the fat, but I was still depressed, so I got fat again.

Once I moved out on my own, I got over being depressed, but I never got rid of the fat.

Being fat limits you to certain professions, all behind a desk. You don't see a lot of 400 pound Broadway dancers out there. Spending 9 hours a day behind a desk doesn't lead to svelteness, either.

In high school I was tested and I have an IQ of 150.  I managed to graduate high school because I could get A's and B's on most of the tests, but never bothered with the homework.

150 IQ + depression = 1.7 GPA + virginity

When I got out of high school, in 1984, and into my own place, I tried going to go to community college while working a full-time job to pay the rent. I even worked out a deal with a security guard company that would let me pull 16 and 24 hour shifts on the weekends. But, of course, it didn't work; and with my GPA, scholarships were out of the question and I was terrified of student loans.

So I became an autodidact. The PC industry was just heating up then and I had picked up a basic understanding of how PCs worked through books and the few college courses I had managed to complete. I turned that into a PC repair job at a local electronics store, which turned into a phone tech support job at a local software company. While at that software company, a publisher asked me to write a book about the product I was supporting, which I turned into a Junior Technical Writer job, which I have been doing for 13 years. Again, I taught myself to be a technical writer by reading books.

But being in a white-collar job without a college degree makes you low in the pecking order. You're always the first one laid-off, you make less money, and there are always holes in your knowledge when you are starting out. Plus, there are always snobs who equate BA and MA with IQ.

In 1998, I tried moving to another part of the country, hoping to find lower taxes, better climate, and cheaper housing. That's when I learned that I was a Silicon Valley slave. The only place my hard-won skills are in demand is in San Jose. Anywhere else, I'm just a fat nerd.

I began searching for a way I could make a living doing something I actually enjoy, but was in demand anywhere in the country. I have researched six dozen careers, and almost all of them are either out of my price range, would take too long to train for, or I'm not physically capable of performing the tasks.

I had almost given up hope, when I thought about the phrase "Do what you love, and you'll never work again." I looked at the pile of books and magazines on my nightstand and thought, "Well, there's no call for 400 pound pornstars."
But there were a lot of gun magazines lying there too, and I thought, "How can I make a living with guns?"

"Gun writer" is the first job that leapt to mind, but that's like saying "I've decided to become the Secretary of the Interior." The people who control those jobs don't hand them out to just anybody, and usually only to their friends.

Besides, the part I hate most about working in the Silicon Valley is having your fate in the hands of others. I really want to be "the Master of my Fate, the Captain of my Destiny."

In 1999, my best friend at the time, Stinky, and I visited her father, Cranky, out in the Nevada desert. He was a master gunsmith. He made more than one custom gun for me over the years, and his work was always superb. He was cranky, mean, and cruelly honest. I liked him.

(As a side note, it's astounding to meet a truly honest person, especially when you've grown up in the Bay Area. I'm not saying he was RIGHT, because he wasn't, but I swear by Nipples of Venus, he was an honest villain!)

Cranky had a big place out in the middle of the Nevada desert and he worked on guns in his workshop. The first time I met him in 1999, he let Stinky and I test-fire a couple full-auto submachineguns he had just finished repairing, a Thompson and an M4. Man, that's the way to end your work day!! Stinky is 5'2", and weighs about 100 pounds. At the time she had blue and purple hair, and wore combat boot with stripey socks. I'll never forget the sight of Stinky  blasting away with that giant Thompson, giggling like a cheerleader and bouncing up and down like Tigger. Now THAT was a happy dance!

Now, I had assumed he had always been a gunsmith. He was a Vietnam vet, and one of those scary MAC-SOG guys. In early 2009 he was very sick, and had been sick a long time, so I went up to see him one last time. While we were having some whiskey shots at the kitchen table, he got to talking about his life.

That's when I found out he'd worked for IBM as a troubleshooter! Big time money, white collar, wore a tie, etc! Then one day he found out IBM was, well, lets just say IBM was acting about how you'd expect a giant, soul-less, multi-national corporation to act.

So Cranky up and quit, went to a little college in Susanville to get training, and then moved out to the sticks and was happy. Well... as happy as he could get.

On the drive home from Nevada, I thought about my situation. I thought, "Shit, I have a nice piece of property way out in the sticks. I'm debt free. I love guns. Why can't I do that too?"

My wife and I have been saving for years to escape California, assuming that at some point we'd find The Business that we would invest in. When I suggested an AAS degree in Gunsmithing, she cocked her head at me and said, "Yeah! That would work!"

We then spent three months trying to tear the idea apart. The only problem we could find was cash. How could we pay for schooling, support the Remote Ranchito, and not have to work full-time? We figured it would take a large chunk of change to pay for it all.

We had saved about a third of what we needed, and we hoped to have the rest within three years. Then in June 2009 my mother died very suddenly, leaving me the other two-thirds (AFTER TAXES), a 2006 Honda Accord, and the stunning realization that Life Is Too Fucking Short.

I spent 2010 paying off the taxes on my inheritance, and getting things arranged by researching schools, exploring loans, and so on.

So that's where I am now. I've applied to the college of my choice, filled out the paperwork to start student loans, and at night I dream of all the problems I'll have running my own business (and wake up smiling.)

My hope is that you'll come along with me on this journey, now that I've finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'll cover the ups and downs, pitfalls and advantages, and share my progress reports on the various projects I  need to complete in order to be awarded an Associates of Applied Science degree in Gunsmithing.

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!