Our Excoriatingly Negative Review of Champion Windows

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:24 am

This review is both long and long-winded, for which I apologize. However, it tells a story that should be of great interest to any potential Champion customers, so I would recommend wading through it.

In March of 2019 we signed a contract with Champion to install a 15 x 10 foot sunroom on our Western Washington house. Paid $52,000 for it. Install went well as far as we could tell, but the first time it started to rain the floor was covered in water. The workers who built the structure came out to deal with the issue multiple times: caulked around the interior and exterior of the wall, drilled holes around the base of the structure (something they were apparently supposed to do upon install), added more holes/bigger holes around the base. Nothing would stop the flooding. A few weeks in, the person running the job on the ground (one rung below foreman, I believe) came to tell us that he had been drilling the wrong type of holes in the base, that he had just been informed that perfectly round holes won’t drain properly, that they needed to be oval in shape. He ovalized the holes, problem solved. That problem, anyway, and only after weeks of ineffectual bumbling.

Next–and ongoing, as of this writing–problem: the roof started leaking almost at the same time as the floor started flooding, every time it rained more than a sprinkle. First leaks were right up against the join between the house roof and the sunroom roof, water dribbling out up and down the width of the junction between the two. Same crew that didn’t know they were supposed to drill holes in the base came out to address the new problem, basically blamed the leaks on the fact that our fascia and soffits were somehow strange and unlike other fascia and soffits. Went on the roof and tightened things up in some way. Leak continued, they came back and tightened things up again, or more, or whatever it was they did. My memory isn’t perfect, but I believe they came to our site three times to fix that particular leak. Eventually it stopped.

That is to say, it stopped leaking at the roof/roof junction. Instead it began leaking further down the roof line. I don’t think it would be inaccurate for me to assume that what the previous crew had done was to plug up all of the most upstream leaks that allowed water to breach the sunroof’s interior at that particular spot without actually preventing the water from penetrating the roof itself, and now the water was traveling down the interior of the sloped roof and finding its way out anywhere it could. Causing God knows what kind of damage to our new and existing structures along the way.

Parenthetically, during their time on our job, we learned that the person on the ground in charge of our project had never led one of these before, that we were his inaugural sunroom. We also recently learned that neither of the two people who put in the vast majority of the work on our site is still with the company. Frankly, nothing we have learned about this whole situation has made us feel anything but less confident in the work done on our home. The impression we got was that an inexperienced, unprepared and under-supervised team was sent out to perform the construction at our site, and that the quality of the build suffered for it. Tremendously.

Over the next two years Champion sent people out to our house perhaps two or three more times. Asking them to come out every time the roof leaked would have been ridiculous, because a) the roof leaked every time it rained for more than an hour or so and b) it would be near-impossible to successfully attend to the problem in the middle of a season of perpetual precipitation. So I reached out to them about once or twice a year, and they came out once or twice a year to try to resolve it. Their general strategy was to apply one or another type of fix (caulk this, add more screws to that, re-tarpaper the roof etc.) then tell us to call back if that didn’t fix the problem. It never did.

The last time they came out, in the dry season of (I’m almost certain) 2021, the person they sent ran water down our roof from just above the line of the roof/roof junction, onto and down the sunroom roof. He ran it for about an hour, saw no leaks inside the sunroom, and claimed to have “proven” that the problem had to be occurring above the line where Champion’s work was done, and was therefore not their responsibility. He suggested that the leaks were coming from the supports that hold up our photovoltaic panels, so we had the company that installed them come out and inspect the braces, no issues there. And anyway, the PV panels were installed the year before the sunroom, and we had experienced no issues with leaks during that time; only after the sunroom was built. On top of that, however, the most glaring problem with Champion’s “proof” is this: having come out to inspect the building during a period of sustained clear days and high temperatures–with sunlight beating down on the roofline of both the house and the sunroom, causing everything to expand and shift in the heat–the inherent makeup of both roofs and the intersection between them was totally different than in in a period of sustained lower temperatures and precipitation. There is absolutely no justification for coming out in a period of hot, dry weather and claiming to have proven that no leaks can possibly be occurring in cold, damp weather. Claiming so defies logic and common sense.

In December 2022 I reached out to Champion for what was ostensibly going to be my very last time before giving up. I managed to get hold of Roy Richter, Regional Manager for Champion in the West. He agreed to come out and take another look at the work that had been done. I didn’t tell him this of course, but if (as he had over the phone) he denied any responsibility on behalf of his employer for the damage and/or poor workmanship we had paid tens of thousands of dollars for, I was going to ask him for his recommendation as to what sort of company (roofing, general contractor, exorcist, whathaveyou) he would recommend we bring out to completely repair the roof from peak to gutter over the affected area, and call it a day. Roy and I arranged a time for him to come over.

The day before the appointment he called up to say that the employee he was planning on sending to our house (beg pardon? I thought you were coming out personally, Roy; that’s what you said over the phone) Had called in sick and that he (Roy) would not be available until after the 13th because he was going on vacation. I said no problem, let’s meet up after the 13th.

Since then I have emailed Roy directly twice and called his mobile number twice, with no response of any kind. I don’t think it’s out of bounds to interpret this as indicating an attitude of, “f— this guy, I’m sick of hearing him complain about his roof.”

Well Roy, if you’re sick of hearing about our leaky roof, imagine how we must feel, living as we do underneath it.

I find it noteworthy that Champion has been acquired by other companies at least twice since 2020; first by a real estate management company and then by a property improvement conglomerate. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211228005195/en/Great-Day-Improvements-Acquires-Champion-Windows, https://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2020/04/02/exclusive-one-of-world-s-largest-real-estate.html)
This sort of situation does not speak well of the motives of the buyers or the outcome for the company purchased. Typically the plan is to use the good name and reputation of the company acquired to produce a short-term profit (usually by some combination of dramatically cutting costs, trimming staff and reducing quality of products/services), then either strip the carcass bare or resell the business while there’s still some scraps of meat left on the bones. Based upon our experience, the strategy with Champion would appear to have been the latter.

When we first did our research on Champion prior to signing our contract, the company was apparently still hanging on to the last fraying threads of its reputation, as both institutional and customer online reviews were still quite positive. Since then their reviews have plummeted; currently have an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, for instance. And while the reviews on sites like TrustPilot skew towards the positive (3.8 out of 5 on that site at the time of this writing), we noticed that the bulk of the positive reviews were focused on the friendliness and knowledgeability of the sales reps, and the negative reviews were mostly about customer service and–of particular note to us–the failure of representatives to respond to repeated inquiries about problems with the company’s work.

I truly wish we had never let these people through our door. We had quotes from two other, locally-based companies to do the work, but we ended up going with Champion because they had a good reputation (at the time) and a national infrastructure, which we thought would mean stability and longevity. We will be kicking ourselves for the rest of our lives for having been suckered in by the siren song of “Over 70 Years of Total Awesomeness!” As far as we’re concerned, Champion is now just another of tens of thousands of companies that exist primarily as a fine-mesh screen to filter money out of consumer’s pockets. That is literally all you will ever mean to them, in our experience. Even if the people who come to your door or to your job site want to do good work, they won’t be given the resources, and certainly not the mandate, to actually do so. Find a local or regional company, do some deep research, save yourself the aggravation and disappointment that comes from paying thousands of dollars for the pervasive feeling that you have been had.

ADDENDUM: In January 2023 I gave up trying to get Roy to respond to my repeated inquiries and instead reached out through Champion’s customer service Web portal. I was contacted shortly thereafter by Rodney Lacheney, the Install Manager for Champion in the Northwest, or perhaps just the Puget Sound area, not totally certain. Instead of denying the obvious or actively refusing to communicate with us, Rodney agreed (he might even have broached the subject himself, I don’t recall) to send out a roofing contractor with which they work, Forever Roofing, to check out the situation. Sam Josan from Forever Roofing contacted me shortly thereafter and we arranged to have him come out and check out the situation. After arriving, Sam took a five-minute walk around the roof and announced that he had found the problem: the people who had installed the sunroom had laid the new section of the roof over the existing roof rather than tucking it under. There was never any chance in any plane of existence that the roof was not going to leak, and no less (and possibly more) than four different people from Champion had walked around on this same roof and failed to notice this. Sam’s team came back and fixed Champion’s glaring, stupid, infinitely avoidable error, and our sunroom did not leak through a typically rain-soaked Puget Sound Winter and Spring, nor has it since. Check Forever Roofing out if you need some roof work done, they’re good people. And to give Rodney credit, Champion paid for the repairs.

Who will pay for the table ruined by the leaks, any possible damage caused inside our walls and ceiling by consistent exposure to water over a period of three-plus years, the abatement of any Stachybotrys, Aspergillus or other “Sick House Syndrome” fungi that might be accumulating in our now-waterlogged structure, or any health effects we might suffer from exposure to same, remains in question. Not to mention compensation for the hours we spent on the phone and in person trying to convince various representatives of Champion that our roof was still leaking and that they were at fault. I suppose we’ll have to bring that up with whomever buys Champion next, should the need arise.

To summarize this addendum, Rodney was the one person we came across at Champion who didn’t seem to be either incompetent, uncaring and/or unscrupulous, and I thank him for that. He is, by all appearances, a good egg. The rest of the organization seems to be a company in severe decline, and we would recommend, in the strongest possible terms, that you stay away.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2022

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:38 pm

This Saturday marked the long-awaited return of the annual Pumpkin Pogrom. This was a smallish affair, in the name of COVID safety. Many pumpkins were sacrificed to the Gourd Gods, and a good time seemed to be had by all. Many thanks to everyone who participated!


“Dear Seattle Times….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:20 am


My name is Andrew, and I recently (mid-2019) underwent a kidney transplant at Swedish Medical Center’s Seattle hospital, with the aid and coordination of their Organ Transplant Center. My recovery has progressed steadily and by the numbers. My experience with Swedish was the best I could possibly imagine under the circumstances, and I owe my life—literally owe my life—to the skilled and dedicated staff. From the folks who run the desks and phones, the patient coordinators, the lab technicians, up to the on-staff nephrologists Drs. Vadivel and Reddy, and the surgeon (shout out to Dr. Precht and his team) who performed the procedure. And of course and especially, the countless nurses, caregivers and other medical support staff who are the indispensable front-line infantry of any medical center.

As with everyone on Swedish’s medical staff, they deserve my eternal gratitude; mine and countless others. They also deserve a living wage and decent working conditions.

We seem to be on a terrible downhill slide in our healthcare system….in truth, in so many aspects of our modern day-to-day existence. We have chosen to allow our most crucial public services to be commodified, letting the Invisible Hand of the marketplace determine the quality and capacity of these institutions. Suppressing the workforce in the name of efficiency and rock-bottom prices isn’t even a good idea if you’re selling McNuggets. Applying such practices to a system intended to keep body and soul together in times of crisis is a recipe for disaster.

People should be aware that so much of what the union is asking for comes down to patient safety. Chronic understaffing of hospitals should not be SOP. Permanent “Crunch Time” is not even acceptable in the video game industry. Why should it be boilerplate practice for a Critical Care nurse? How does that make any sense?

The employees of Swedish Seattle aren’t asking for much; in fact, Providence Health Systems (the entity that owns Swedish as well as their own eponymous facilities) offers their Portland employees a package that essentially mirrors what our Seattle workers are asking for. This is not a financial issue for Providence. This not-for-profit group earns approximately $700 million annually. They pay their top 16 executives approximately $40 million a year. They have cash reserves of around $11 billion-with-a-b dollars, some of which they are undoubtedly dipping into to import and pay non-union staff during the strike, along with bonuses, housing allowances and travel costs. Or perhaps it’s being covered by their strike insurance, if such a thing exists.

I would be very worried if I were slated for a procedure during the strike period. Not that out-of-town workers are necessarily not highly qualified, but they are unfamiliar with the facilities and culture in which they now find themselves operating. That would give me pause.

The sole purpose of Providence’s refusal to bargain in good faith seems fairly obvious under the circumstances: they would like to break this union. In the eyes of senior management, the most sensible strategy is to spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to pull the SEIU’s teeth, so that next contract they can more efficiently push their employees a little further—or a lot further—down that slide I mentioned earlier, on the dizzying race to the bottom. Where, in their market-driven Utopia, nurses are as interchangeable as Subway Sandwich Artists and health care is doled out at the exact rate and level of quality that keeps money spent on lawsuits lower than annual revenue.

I would hate to think where I would be had we already reached that point. Probably in an urn on my wife’s bedside table.

Thanks for reading,



And Now, a Message from the UAdNSPCA….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:44 pm
Or, what happens when you’re snowed in with access to a video-capable smartphone.


Another Pumpkin Pogrom Down The Hatch

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:21 pm

Many thanks to all who participated!


Anyone Wanna ‘Fess Up?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:12 pm

Would the person(s) who sent me this amazing Man Crate of exotic animal jerky care to admit to it, so I can thank him/her/them properly?

UPDATE: Turns out it was the awesome folks at my place-o’-employment. Thanks so much everyone!

Man Crate


Has Anyone Else Noticed….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:16 pm

That Aaron Paul


Looks for all the world like Chris Hardwick’s parallel-universe evil twin?


Sorry, didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.


Beg Pardon?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:44 pm

Like so many of us, I have become altogether too dependent upon the (hopefully) beneficent ministrations of the fine folks over at Amazon Prime. I have surrendered a small but not insignificant portion of my free will to their mind-croggingly vast inventory of must-, might-want-to- and why-in-God’s-name-would-anyone-wish-to-have items for just about any occasion or predilection. In the process I have also become somewhat indentured to Amazon’s recommendations, based on carefully-tuned algorithms, lovingly coded by the finest Morlocks of our generation to suss out my every whim and tempt me at every click. Sometimes, however, they seem to get it hilariously wrong. Like this time, just f’rinstance.

I’ve been looking for a new charger case for my Samsung Galaxy S7. A fine phone if ever there was one, but unfortunately the un-augmented unit has woefully underwhleming battery capacity. In the eternal race for slimmer and slimmer phones—presumably so that they are easier to lose a grip on and unintentionally deposit in the john whilst trying to Google your Facebook—Samsung, like all phone manufacturers, has had to sacrifice something, and that something is battery life. I, with my Swift Premium Brown ‘N Serve Sausage fingers, am not particularly interested in owning a phone slim enough to use as a scalpel, but I do want the horsepower, high-quality camera and other features that come with the latest line of phones.

The compromise comes in the form of a phone case that contains an additional lithium-ion battery. There are lot of them to choose from, now that the S7 has been out for a bit. I have one of the earlier varieties now, and it’s okay, but it doesn’t do a lot to actually protect the phone, so now that the market has matured a little I went on another expedition into the Amazon to see whether I could find something a little more to my liking. There are a few newer, reasonably-priced battery cases out now, and while perusing the selection, I came across this:

Say What?

Amazon, far be it from me to question the power, the precision, the overwhelming efficacy of your digital minions who plumb the vasty deeps to bring me the most relevant cross- and up-sell offerings this side of Heaven. At this point, I am entrusting you with more and greater insight into my habits in all areas of my life than it is possible that I with my meager meatware am able to achieve. And yet, in spite of all the computational dei running through your machinas and all of the demographic scintilla you weave into the fabric of commerce every second of every day, of this I am relatively certain: I have pretty much locked down the act of taking a whiz. But thanks anyway.


Another Great Pumpkin Pogrom

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:06 am

Pumpkin Pogrom 2015

Many thanks to all who participated!


Just a Passing Thought

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:44 am

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the Authorization for Use of Military Force. I have little to say on the matter, save this: I don’t feel comfortable with any governmental doctrine whose acronym sounds like a monster swallowing the world in one bite.



Pumpkin Pogrom 2013

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:08 pm

Many thanks to all who participated. Click on a picture to get the full-sized version.

Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013


From This Year’s Independence Day Celebration

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:32 pm

This was without a doubt the most hazardous July 4th we’ve ever hosted at 121….well, technically it was only almost hazardous. Two aerial fireworks managed to go waaay off course and fly into the garage, nearly tagging two of our guests, both first-timers. Ah well, try not to hold it against us, guys….

After our niece Anastasia (okay, she’s really our friend Shawn’s daughter, but that whole crowd is like family to us) narrowly avoided a Close Encounter of the Burned Kind, she retreated indoors. After a particularly rambunctious 500-gram cake seemed to—finally—spend itself, Don, Rob and I (none of us the petite type) all sort of crept towards it. Noting our progress from the living room bay window, Anastasia was overheard saying to no one in particular, “sneaky potatoes….”  😆

Other than that, it was lots of fun. Much food and good cheer. We got to show off our new patio, which worked exactly as planned; we easily seated 8–10 people outdoors, and everyone seemed to enjoy the new setting. Many thanks to everyone who came out.

Here’s a clip of one of Don’s FrankenFireworks, two 200-gram cakes duct-taped to a 300-shot Saturn Missile Battery. I think it was one of the missiles that almost took out our niece. 😯

[flv width=”960″ height=”540″]http://www.uncle-andrew.net/blog/pics/fireworks-2013.flv[/flv]


Election Eve wisdom from “Da Youf”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:31 am

Got this from my father via email. Apparently he and my Mom were chatting with my thirteen-year-old niece Lucy last night when the subject turned to the upcoming election.

Lucy is quite erudite, in her own very special way: she has an amazing grasp of language, with an insanely outsized grasp of wordplay and deadpan comic timing. When my parents asked her what she thought of the presidential candidates, she replied, “Romney is boring. He sounds like a teacher lecturing on the history of dust.”

What about Obama, they asked?

“I like him,” she said; “he has big ears, which is funny, and makes children laugh.”

From the mouths of babes, indeed. Here’s to you, Babe. 😀

And to All, a Good Election Night.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2012 Was a Success!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:00 pm

Pumpkin Pogrom 2012

Many thanks to those who participated!


If You Watch Only One Video Today….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:19 pm

Watch NAACP President Benjamin Jealous on the Rachel Maddow show, explaining his and the Association’s recent endorsement of marriage rights for same-sex couples. Hardly a dry eye in the house.


More Birdiegazoo

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:26 pm

Margaret and I have been watching a sparrow family as they’re sprucing up the birdhouse in our back yard in preparation for baby season. The entrance is a little svelte for the male, and watching him get in and out of the thing with a beak full of nesting material can be a laff riot. Here’s a bit we captured on video this Saturday.

[flv width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.uncle-andrew.net/blog/movies/Birdhouse_Fattie.flv[/flv]


Pretty Much the Ultimate in Food Fright

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:30 pm

My buddy Shawn sent this my way this morning. Ye Gods and severed digits!

Welcome to The Morgue Bakery

As Shawn himself suggested: PTSD much? Still, you can’t deny the craftsmanship. I’d really like to check the place out (next time I’m on one of my many trips to Thailand), but I’m not sure I could actually bring myself to sample the wares. 😯


Lend a Hand (In a Sparkly Glove)

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:32 am

Keith Knight, author of such comix as The Knight Life, K Chronicles and (Th)Ink, has started a Kickstarter campaign to support his planned graphic novel, “I Was a Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator”. Keef is a comic genius and an all-around good egg, so please consider kicking something in.


Leaving Las Vegas

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:30 pm

When Margaret decided to attend this year’s Western States Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, she asked if I would like to come along. The price they were offering for air fare and hotel was pretty damn good, so what the heck, I decided to tag along, We met up with a couple of friends—a fellow WSU Vet Med graduate and her husband, both friends of ours—and made a week of it, the two docs attending classes while Don and I sampled the fleshpots of Sin City. In the evening we’d all get together and take in some of the night life of the Strip. We got back Friday morning. I pretty much had to jump back into work with both feet right away (even had to borrow an extra foot to cover the spread), hence the tardiness of this entry.

This was my first trip to Vegas, and I came away from it with a number of valuable lessons under my ever-tightening belt:

♠ Even if you can see it from where you are, you can’t get there from here on foot. Again and again, I and my cohorts were fooled by the combination of crisp desert air and the city’s built-in reality-distortion field, meaning that things that seemed just a hop, skip and a jump away by foot turned out to be a long, exhausting, Bataan-style death march from where we started. Adding to this was the collective efforts of the Vegas hospitality industry to make sure that the shortest distance between two points is a bizarre slog through a rat-warren of slot machines, craps tables and Yard-O’-Margarita stands. Protip: if you need to get to another building, take a taxi. If the place you need to get to is on the other side of the same building you’re in, find the nearest exit and go around the outside; you’ll easily shave half the time off your journey, and possibly save a few bucks—or brain cells—in the process. And unless you really need to do business outside of the downtown core, do not bother with a rental car; chances are you will spend more time parking than you would walking.

Casinos and casino resorts are by no means places to “relax”. I came away from my week at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in dire need of a vacation. The hotel itself was lovely; possibly the nicest we’ve ever stayed in.

The view from our hotel window

The Mandalay Bay is an imposing structure of interlocking monoliths of bronzed glass and concrete. It features over 20 restaurants, an embarrassment of  bars, an attached mall, a decent aquarium, spas, pools, theater spaces and countless other diversions. Its largest and most prominent offering, along with that of all the other resorts on the strip, is without a doubt neural attenuation. The place is an absolute riot of blaring sound, flashing lights, gaudy colors, whirling patterns, psychic strip-mining and aesthetic insult. Part carnival, part Pachinko machine, and part focus-group-derived common-sense obliterator. Simply traversing the lobby to the elevators leading to one’s hotel room is an ordeal. It is telling that, despite my having slept upwards of ten or twelve hours a day while staying at the Mandalay Bay, I nonetheless came home and slept twelve to thirteen hours both Saturday and Sunday.  I didn’t really notice until we had been home for half a day and had nothing more obnoxious or overbearing than the occasional phone ring or yowling cat to deal with that my aural pathways were finally, slowly opening back up again, allowing me to hear things that had been heretofore too modest in pitch or amplitude to make it through the brain callus I had rapidly acquired over the previous week: rainfall, for instance, or birdsong, or the sound of my own thoughts.

I’ve never wanted to play a video game less in my life than I do right now; I just spent a hair over a week living in one.

Las Vegas is an awesome place to get fat. Sure, it’s not an original observation, but I can now say from personal experience that Vegas is a food-lover’s paradise. And not just in a schmancy, high-toned, savings-account-hostile way, though that certainly dovetails nicely with our experience there. We tended to eat at the various casino resorts, in medium- to high-end eateries, and didn’t once get away for less than a hundred dollars for 4 people (and that was at Starbucks, ba-doom TSISH!). Fortunately, every meal was worth it, with one possible exception I’ll get into a bit later. Our epicurean adventure included Noodles at the Bellagio, China Grill at the Mandalay Bay, and renown Cooking Channel whore Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caeser’s Palace, where I just about gorged myself to death on a mind-blowing and gut-busting 22 ounce rib eye, easily one of the top 5 steaks I have ever had in my life. But even for the underpecuniated there are a wealth of places for good eats: Nathan’s Famous, In-N-Out Burger, and just about any other chain you can think of, plus local favorites like Lotus of Siam, Terrible’s and tons of others. In fact, just about the only dining experience one should avoid altogether is the classic “Vegas Buffet”, despite its venerable place in Sin City tourist lore. The buffet at Treasure Island Casino is the very living embodiment of the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”; 3 or 4 hectares of the mediocrest food that money can buy.

This is not to say that there aren’t lots of fun things to do in Vegas besides eat. Hence the next axiom on my list, and perhaps the least useful in a day-to-day context (at least if you’re lucky):

Despite the ginormous size of its ordinance, a Thompson submachine gun is amazingly easy to control. Don and I spent a delightful yet expensive couple of hours at one of Vegas’ smattering of Class III gun ranges, the Guns & Ammo Garage. For 170 bucks I got the option of firing three different models of my choice; I selected a Heckler & Koch MP-5,  an AK-47 and a classic 40’s-era Thompson submachine gun. All were capable of full-auto fire, which we were allowed to do under the close supervision of a highly-trained babysitter. The MP-5, a 9mm submachine gun that fires from a closed bolt, was very lightweight and almost surgical in its performance (Don had a similar experience with the Uzi he chose). The AK-47 was a royal pain to control, both figuratively and literally. That overpowered 7.62mm bottle brass really dug the thing into my shoulder, and my target grouping looked like a sneeze. But the Tommy Gun: that thing was stunningly easy to keep centered on the target, possibly because the thing weighed about as much as a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, which really helps to absorb the ol’ recoil. With very little practice it was possible to put a burst of 5 or 6 rounds through a space the size of a playing card. Here’s Don playing with his:
Of course, Washington isn’t a Class III state, so there’s no way for me to get my hands on a full-auto submachine gun….unless of course I were to find a pre-1994 Thompson at a gun show, which would mean it was grandfathered in under Washington State law. And, of course, assuming I found a new place to live, since Margaret would throw me out on my ass. But that thing was so cool….

♠ The Bally “KISS” Pinball Machine is not as cool as I remembered. If you happen to find yourself in Vegas and you have an several hours to spare, I can’t stress enough your desperate, singular need to go see the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. The first hour-plus will be spent driving—and driving—and driving down Tropicana Avenue, absolutely certain that you have missed it and that the next recognizable thing you will come across on your journey will be the Utah border. Whence finally you get there, you will be treated to a sight rarely seen in these modern times:

Row after row of pinball machines, from the vintage to the completely contemporary. Including my old nemesis:

Ah, how I remembered this particular steed of the pinball stable. It harkened back to the days when I myself wanted to rock and roll all night and party ever-y day….or at least, get baked ever-y day and play pinball right up till the Pali Lanes closed for the night. Sadly, time had not been kind to this machine, which was in all likelihood a lackluster table the day it rolled off the assembly line; certainly in now way on par with contemporaries of its time such as Bally’s Six Million Dollar Man. Still, the experience was more than worth a few bucks’ worth of quarters.

There were other diversions to be enjoyed while we were there; we went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Love, perused the Mandalay Bay’s small but nifty aquarium, and got in more people-watching than is entirely healthy for anyone. Much fun was had by all, and I don’t regret this trip one bit. But that being said, it is awesome to be home.


In Case You Weren’t Aware Of It…..

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:56 pm

Michael Bloomberg has graciously offered to match funds on any donation to the national Planned Parenthood fund for providing breast health exams, up to 250 grand. Take a moment to donate if you think this just might be important. Also, why not take a few moments to let Susan G. Komen know how you feel about their chickenshit retreat from a vital women’s health service. And, if you’re feeling really plucky, you might also want to drop Representative Cliff Stearns a line and let him know what a pathetic, transparently dick maneuver his formal investigation of Planned Parenthood really is.

Komen better damn well pull their head out of their ass before long, or they are very likely going to find a good number of people dropping out of the myriad 3 Day events planned for this year, my wife quite possibly among them.

There is no emoticon for what I am feeling right now! 👿

UPDATE: Komen caved; hooray for our side! Going to have to keep an eye on them though….

UPDATE2: In other Susan G. Komen news, how’s this for awesome timing?

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