My Heros

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You’ve Got Your Role Models — I’ve Got Mine

By John Connor

Look up there to the left. Yup; it’s a plain, cheap rubber doorstop. I’ve kept ’em handy for years, placing one where I would routinely see it — on my desk, a shelf, windowsill, whatever. It reminds me of who and what I am.

When they’re new, shiny and unmarred, what do they do? They stop doors. Made for tough, unrelenting duty, in use under pressure they appear at repose and are casually overlooked. Of course they’ll do more than stop doors. I’ve cut strips, chunks and cores out of ’em many times, to make washers, patches, and plugs; strips to reinforce more expensive but weaker materials — and then returned them to their original role. When deterioration and wounds have lessened their capabilities, all it takes is more force to wedge them into place. They still serve, silently.

I’ve driven them under a rogue washing machine which would otherwise dance a spastic rhumba over an uneven concrete deck until it popped its hoses. Four cheap inert doorstops, maybe one tenth of one percent of the weight and mass of that shaking, whirling, out-of-control machine stopped it dead. They take a continual beating, true, but the furor is quieted; the friction relieved.

A doorstop can and will become old, dinged, scraped, gouged and battered, as time and travail take their inevitable toll. Scarred, ugly and aged, what do they do? They stop doors.

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My Digital Role Model

Back in 2000, I bought one of the first ProChrono Digital chronographs from Competition Electronics. Cheap at about $125, higher-class chronographs cost three or four times that much. But it had a prodigious memory, with total recall of shot strings, velocities and myriad details. If somethin’ fishy occurred, like two slugs recording the exact same velocity, it let you know with a bold “DUPE.” If something went wrong or she wasn’t sure, she owned up to it instantly with an embarrassed err for “error.” But over countless thousands of rounds fired through her screens by myself and many others over 16 years, when I flipped her ON, she happily chirped rdy – her cute way of saying “Ready, boss; let’s do this!”

But oh, the beatings it has taken; the damages it was never designed to suffer! It has been busted completely open, scattering parts thither and yon, three times. First, a pal whacked it as he turned, swinging a rifle case. The ProChrono hit the deck, cracked in two and parts flew. The case is a two-piece plastic clamshell, not meant to ever be opened. I presumed she was KIA. The next two times microbursts of wind came outta nowhere, plucked it and the tripod up and swung ’em to the deck like a hammer.

Each time I puzzled over which parts went where and what their jobs were. I kinda-sorta figured out stuff like this is the lookie-up slug-peeper and this has gotta be the Cybertronic Thinkleator-Rememberie-Widget. It’s not that difficult if you have aptitude. I don’t — but I’m persistent.

Repairs were made with broken toothpicks, shaved matchsticks, acrylic glue and plumber’s putty. Note: Do not glue the case back together. Just wrap it in target tape and rubber bands, because you may have to open your patient back up again until you get it right. When all the little ruptured ducks were back into their rows and I hit the ON switch, she’d sing out “rdy,” and go right back to work.

Check the inset photo, bottom right: February 2016, one of the lads failed to compensate for optic height-over-bore. That’s the scar left by a 77-grain Sierra MatchKing at about 2,600 feet per second. She lives. She performs.

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Quite Like Us

Sometimes a tough, simple, ugly ChunkaJunk can and will take on the heaviest, most violent chores and just soldier on. Sometimes a fragile, complex and sophisticated device can withstand more than anyone could ever reasonably expect it to, but given some care and persistent support, it will respond with a cheery face and absolute accuracy. Whether they are born to it and bred for it, or the cruelties of chance have visited horrors upon them, they remain true to task and purpose; true to the best of themselves — and to us.

How many of you ugly chunks have been the doorstop? How many times have you been that wedge, willingly taking the pressure and friction to keep others from mutual and personal destruction? How many of you fair and fragile specimens have suffered the flurried blows of fate and overcome them? I see something of myself in that damaged doorstop, a certain tall redhead in that taped-up chronograph, and many of you in both. Think about it. With respect, Connor OUT

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