Friday, November 25, 2005

Shooting Stars

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Tri County Gun Club presented a "Points Race" match featuring some of the most interesting and challenging stages we've seen at a club match for a long time. We weren't surprised that the stages were so innovative. Match Director Keith Tyler (double Master class in both Open and Limited 10) likes to shoot stages that test your skills, and all of the stages here do exactly that.

We like to encourage difficulty in Points Race matches, because these are the means by which the Columbia Cascade Section determines who wins the limited number of invitations to compete in the USPSA National Championships. Each section is allocated a few invitations, and if you win your class during the regular competitive year you are assured a slot at the Nationals. Sure, you still have to pay your entry fee, but you don't have to put your name on the waiting list.

Besides, it helps maintain the highest quality of competition, and the competitive energy, through-out the season.

There were so many great stages here, it's impossible to give you a good picture of them all, so I've chosen to demonstrate just one stage: "Find 'Em and Shoot 'Em".

This stage features a lot of movement, both static and disappearing IPSC targets, Pepper Poppers, US Poppers, steel plates and the Texas Star. You shoot on the move (if you can), shoot from a ramp, shoot from a raised platform, and through a port in a Bianchi Barricade.

I've chosen three competitors to portray. The run times vary from 30 to 40 seconds so the download Windows Movie Media files are set at 4mb on these. It's impossible to maintain the detail needed to see what's happening at lower resolution. The original movies are about 8 to 10 MB.

The first competitor is . . . me. The Geek does okay, except that at the exit end of the ramp/platform there are two Pepper Poppers downrange on the left. Geek shoot, hits, shoot ... HE MISSED! Caught off-balance, he had already stepped off the end of the ramp; but the rules say you have to engage the poppers from the ramp, making it necessary to back up again. Oops! Missed again. It took 3 shots to knock the last popper down.

The second competitor is SWMBO. She moved good, keep the pistol mounted so she could be ready to shoot as soon as she reached her chosen next firing point, and didn't waste much time on the poppers. She got a little behind the Texas Start, but did fine on the two plates. (One of the plates is hidden behind the Bianchi barricade so it's not obvious why all the shooters seemed to hesitate before engaging the Star. All three knocked down the left-hand plate before shooting the Star.)

The third competitor is Fish. He did a fine job on all the IPSC targets and poppers, credibly on the Star but rushed the last plate and wasted a couple of shots before knocking it down . . . much to his own chagrin.

A few notes about the videos:
I set these all to music with a heavy beat to emphasize the adrenalin rush you experience when shooting this kind of stage. I particularly like the Cajun beat of "Rave On", and I've been looking for a video segment that exactly matches the length and style of the film. Unfortunately, I've set the sound pretty high on the music, and it sometimes obscures the sound of the shots. Every competitor here got two hits on the disappearing IPSC target from the entry ramp, for example, but you can't hear when they are engaging it. And by the way, this is all LOUD music, so be prepared to be blasted when you play it because IPSC is a LOUD sport.

Also, I'm still experimenting with the best ways to film IPSC stages. Because this stage is set up very 'deep' (a long distance from the starting box to the last shooting position), I tried 3 different techniques: zoom the video so you can see the Star, leave it at normal magnification and shoot the whole stage from the starting position, and set it at normal and follow the shooter down the stage. This last technique provides a very bouncy point of view, so part of the time the camera is jiggling while I try to walk and film at the same time.

Be patient, I'll learn my craft eventually. I'm having fun filming, editing and presenting the videos.

Finally, someone commented that his computer couldn't find one of the videos presented in an earlier article. Sorry, I've checked all of the links before I publish and, when a problem is reported, I check them again. If you have problems finding a video, please email me directly (at the address listed at the bottom of the blog) and I'll see if I can help you find them.

As usual, these videos aren't exactly modem-friendly. Each 4MB video will take you several minutes to download at 56baud. If you're using an windows-based PC, be sure that your default viewer for WMV files is set for the Windows Media Player. If you're using a Mac . . . you're on your own. I don't know anything about Apple Computers. Anybody here using a Mac who can provide some helpful advice? If so, it would be helpful if you could include instructions in the COMMENTS section.

UPDATE: November 27, 2005

These movies, and some photos, are also available on Jerry the Geek's Photo Gallery in the album titled Shooting Stars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

France 'Back to Normal'

Ambassador Says France 'Back to Normal'

Here's something really interesting: France appears to have become Dorothy and Toto, saying "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".
(11-21) 11:50 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) --

The violence that swept predominantly Muslim communities in some 300 cities and towns in France for three weeks has abated and "we are back to normal," French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte said Monday. He said mostly teenagers had acted out of social and economic hardship. "It was not about the role of Islam in France," he said.
Right. All of the rioters (see below) were Protestants, by definition.

We never saw any link, direct or indirect," the French diplomat said. "Religion played no role."

Where's my animated *.gif file of the Three Monkeys . . . "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" . . . when I really need it?
We know that jihadists are recruiting teenagers, but this has nothing to do with the general unrest in those neighborhoods," he said. The teenagers want to be considered 100 percent French, he said. "They want full equality."

This, in a nation where people who actually work are guaranteed job-security, where endemic socialism guarantees that nobody will go hungry and medical insurance is available for all citizens, contributing or not.

Levitte also suggested "the word 'riot' is a bit too strong" to describe the disturbances and that while thousands of automobiles were destroyed and scores of police officers injured, there were only a handful of fatalities, in contrast to the 1992 Los Angeles riots that left 55 people dead and $1 billion in property damage.

(emphasis added, because It's The Right Thing To Do.)
Right. It's not a "riot" unless it costs more than the latest major (read: most newsworthy) American Riot.
Could it be that they're just jealous because American Rioters are more efficient?

The French have invoked those riots in the past, by way of criticizing U.S. policies. In 1992, then President Francois Mitterrand suggested that France would avoid such strife because of its generous social programs.

Well, THAT has certainly worked out well for The French!
Levitte said that with job programs, scholarships and improved housing, the French government is engaged in trying to improve their living conditions. He spoke at a forum sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Really? If 'religion played no role", why was this statement made to muslim-sponsored audiences? And weren't these feebie give-away programs in place BEFORE the riots started? (Yes, they were!) So why were these folks rioting? Could it be . . . SATAN?

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said the outbreak was a signal that discrimination has to be fought at all levels. He called on the French government to show the young Muslims that "society is with them, not against them."

Of course. That's why "Les Flics" were spending their evenings billy-clubbing Muslim teenagers, and why the teeners wer burning Renaults left and right for the past month!

Salam al-Marayati, executive director of MPAC, said "people want to live the French dream, the American dream, not the French nightmare."

It seems to me that the French Nightmare was created by the Muslim Youth of France. But hey! That's just me! I wasn't there, all I know is what I read in the newspapers. (The newspapers seem to think there's a connection. That may be because the rioters were, well, MUSLIM.)

"We are not immigrants anymore," he said. "We are second, third and fourth generation."

Second, third and fourth generation welfare whores. That speaks well for them. If they had the cajones to go out and get a job, they wouldn't be wasting their evenings burning somebody else's cars, homes and factories. They would be home in bed, catching up on their sleep so they could go out in the morning to earn another day's honest franc. But they wouldn't know about that. According to the newspapers, they're mad at France because France "won't give them a job".

Funny thing about that. I didn't know that a responsible governement was obligated to give me a job. I thought I had to learn a skill, go out into the marketplace and sell myself, and then do the job I had earned. What was I doing wandering around San Francisco in the middle '70's with my cheesy resume' in hand interviewing with people who had much more qualified applicants, if not actively looking for a job?'
Looking for a job?
Give me a break!

The Governement should have given me a job!

Geez, I shoulda move to France. Who knew that the Government was responsible for GIVING me a job?

But the Muslims in Europe are not regarded as full-fledged Europeans, he said.

And while "we agree that this is not a religious conflict," al-Qaida and other groups can exploit these people if their social and political situations are not improved, he said.

Maybe it's just me, but maybe being " ... not regarded as full-fledged Europeans . . . " isn't entirely a Bad Thing.

I always wondered why I found it impossible to respect The French. I always thought it was because they were ignorant, foul-smelling, clueless a$$holes.

Maybe I was right all along?

<>You think?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Crime Story

I bought a set of CDs last month. I paid $60 for a two-box set representing the entire two-year run of "Crime Story".

Do you remember Crime Story? It was Dennis Farina's introduction to video entertainment, and a bold experiment in the way television presented violent events. This was my favorite TV show in the late '80s, and I considered it money well spent when I bought the DVD's.

Here's some of the blurb from the package:

Following the phenomenal success of MIAMI VICE, Executive Producer Michael Mann returned to television with a new kind of gritty crime drama, one that talked tougher and hit harder than anything the small screen had ever seen before. For two explosive seasons, CRIME STORY told the hard-boiled saga of hair-trigger cop Lieutenant Mike Torello [Dennis Farina] and his obsessive pursuit of ruthless gangster Ray Luca [Anthony Denison] from the mean streets of early '60s Chicago to the mean streets of mob-run Las Vegas. Today, CRIME STORY is considered a true cult classic as well as one of the most startling series in television history.

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Executive Producer Michael Mann and co-creators Chuck Adamson and Gustave Reiminger envisioned CRIME STORY as a 22-hour movie for television, the chronicle of three obsessed men . . . hard-boiled Chicago Cop Mike Torello, visionary wise-guy Ray Luca and defense attorney David Abrams . . . in the evolution of organized crime before the Miranda Ruling and after the dreams of Camelot had been gunned down on a city street. "This isn't some Hollywood writer's idea of the nature of good and evil," Mann told reporters. "This is the real thing."

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In an unprecedented show of support, NBC screened the two-hour pilot for the media and ad agencies at movie theatres (sic) across the country. On Thursday, September 18, 1986, the pilot followed the top-rated COSBY SHOW and FAMILY TIES, where it scored a whopping 32 share. The first episode, "Final Transmission" aired the next night after MIAMI VICE and repeated its 32 share. NBC previewed "Shadow Dancer" two weeks later in the same Friday night slot before setting the show into Tuesday night at 10PM opposite MOONLIGHTING on ABC and MATLOCK on CBS. CRIME STORY had hit the ground running.
You too can own this splendid series at bargain-basement prices. You can get Season One and Season Two from for the low low price of . . . not very much (Okay, it'll cost you sixty-eight bucks, plus shipping. Compare this with the cost of $26 to $36 for HALF the first season of WISEGUY, another on my Wish List, and it looks like an extremely affordable video package.)

Two 22-episode seasons for just over a dollar each. It took me over a month to watch the whole series, watching at least one episode per week-day while I ate dinner.

Dinner was often cold before