Friday, June 02, 2006

Bored at Home

I have a cold.

Maybe it's an alergy, or bronchitis.
All I know is I feel crummy, can't sleep, I've got a hoarse throat (think "Mister Ed") and I can't be around other people for a while.

That's not all bad. I've been surfing the net, and again I'm amazed at the stuff you can find there.

Since I haven't done a BLOGMEAT post for a long time, here's The Geek's Stuff To See When You Really Need A Timewaster.

Thanks to Jason at Jason's Blog, I found a really swell Rube Goldberg advertisement for the Toyota Accord.

Also, my friend Gary T. sent me a video which is so weird I created an entire new album on my Photo Gallery for Weird Stuff. Here's the Kosovo song (apologies to The Beach Boys).

Speaking of music, I'm always on the lookout for music to dub into IPSC Videos. (Okay, this works. It's continues the ISPC theme of the blog.) Lately I've been looking for "Holding Out For A Hero" by Bonnie Tyler. I tried Napster, but the download had some weird code inserted that prevented me from using Windows Movie Maker to add it to a project.

Fortunately, I did find a wonderfully terrible video she made (sometime in the 80's?) which was so badly staged it was hillarious. Can you believe Google Videos?

[sigh!] I suppose I'll have to find a cd in the used-cd store that has the song on it. I was planning to hold it out for a particularly spectacular stage, such as Yong Lee's performance on Stage 5: "The Doors", in the 2005 Croc Match. I would have liked to use "Hero" as the theme song, but I was lucky to have a copy of "Ballroom Bash" and the timing was right even though I couldn't really get a sense of the energy of the effort.

I had loaded the video I DID make to YouTube, which allows me to present it here (The same video is available for display from YouTube elsewhere on this website. But I'm bored .)

Yong Lee: 2005 Banzaii Ballistic "You Got Bullets?" Croc Match, September 2005. Stage 5: "The Doors":

What else?

While I was uploading the Kosovo video to my photo gallery, I decided it was time to reorganize it. There's no content there yet that you haven't already seen, but this is the Official Announcement of the "Geek House of Weird".

Watch this space. I get bored quite often.

I'm getting hungry, too. Here's a recipe for a Drunkards Lunch.

Take a quarter-pound (whatever size it comes in that will fit) of Edam or Brie cheese, wrap it in a Pillsbury Croissant Dough package. That stuff comes in the blue tube, it's already rolled out and triangularly perforated to make the croissants. Sqeeze the dough together where it's perforated, so it's one sheet. Wrap up the cheese. You got dough left over? cut it off, cut in into triangles, and make mini-croissants. Put the 'cheese in broulle' (pastry-wrapped cheese) in a shallow glass pan, surround it with the mini-croissants, and bake it in the oven @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until it's brown on the top. It helps if you put butter on the top, it browns better.

While that's cooking, core and thin-slice a couple of apples, put the slices in a bowl of cold water so it doesn't turn brown.

Then slice a quarter pound of smoked salmon ... I prefer the peppered smoked salmon, but it's your choice ... in bite-size pieces on a small cutting board.

Open a bottle of your favorite wine, preferably a white or rose but Boone's Farm will serve. Or open a beer. You probably have one open already; forget I mentioned it, I'm an idiot.

Put the sliced smoked salmon, apples, and a couple of plates with forks on the coffee table in front of the couch. You know you have one. Just sit on the couch, look at the TV, and that cluttered surface between you and the TV is the coffee table. Put the plates there, put the salmon there, put the apples there, put a couple of pot-holders in the middle and take the browned cheese boule on it. Serve it in the glass pan you cooked it in.

Slice up the cheese thingie, serve eighths portions of it with that triangle-shaped thing you got as a wedding gift from your uncle in Alaska that your wife uses to put pie slices on those dinky saucers.

The cheese, you should eat with a fork because it's hot. Everything else (except the beer/wine, dummy) is finger food. Eat a slice of apple. Fork in some cheese stuff. Nibble on the salmon. Don't swallow until you can't stand it any more, because the combination of flavors and textures is, as Martha Stewert is too wussy to say, "to die for". Especially when you wash it all down with the wine/beer whatever.

BTW, don't drink 'lite beer". You may think it's your choice, but it's my recipe and I'm telling you, the whole idea is to have strong, contrasting flavors that somehow compliment each other. You start pouring week horse-piss down your pie-hole, you've ruined the whole thing. Get outta here, I don't even want to talk to you, you moron!

Okay, you guys who are nodding your heads, you get it. You can stay.

There's enough food there for two people to snack on for a quarter of a football game, if you aren't both guys. There's a hint in there for you. Whip this up for your sweetie on a dull evening. She'll be impressed that you can cook (you DID remember to set the timer to 20 minutes for the cheese, right? Do NOT burn the cheeze, you wuss!) and it's fun to play for five or ten minutes trying to figure out how to get the dough to wrap around the odd-shaped chunk of cheese.

Here's a hint: when you slice the apples? Don't peel them, okay? And slice them under the kitchen faucet, so when you invariably SLICE YOUR THUMB you can hold it under the water and nobody will ever know. (Elegant hosts will dispose of the bloody apple parts in the kitchen-sink garbage diosposal. You yobs will want to make sure you eat the gory apple parts before they get to the table, okay?)

When you're done, here's how to make EXTRA big points with your sweetie.

Pick up the cheezy glass pan, the bowl full of water, the cutting board, the plates and forks and silver pie-server and napkins and dispose of them properly in the kitchen sink. Don't run water on the napkins, it's a mess when your sweetie cleans up after you. You got the TIVO thingie, you can pause the ball game for thirty seconds.

On your way back out to the living room, bring the wine bottle with you and top of her glass.

Several times.

You cook, you clean, you pour wine like a sommelier (which I can't spell and you can't pronounce). That's pretty impresive to your sweetie.

Who knows, you just might get lucky.

At least, in the morning she may not remember that you can cook and you can clean.

Whew! Dodged that one, Partner!

Dundee IPSC Videos

My friend Brian, who also provides server space for my Photo Gallery (so I don't want to offend him) has a brand new Open gun for IPSC Competition.

I think the Aimpoint sight is beer-can-on-a-stick ugly, but he makes it work for him so if I sound 'negative' it's probably just jealousy.

Here he is at the May, 2006, club match shooting Stage 4.

He and I are unofficially competing head-to head, so here's my performance on the same stage.

Result: Brian took 4th place on the stage with 97 match points, I took 3rd place with 104 match points.

Unfortunately, this was about as well as I could do against his juggernaut competition. For the entire match, he won 4th Open with 523.6 match points, and I settled in comfortably in 5th Open wth 520 match points. (Brian kicked my butt on the next stage, an 'accuracy stage', and I never recovered from it.)

Brian did very will with his brand new STI Open Gun, and I congratulate him.

Guess I need to practice more. Either that, or I should re-evaluate the qualities of an Aimpoint sight over a C-More sight.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Practical Shooter In Iraq: Part Two

Part II of the series initiated here.

In response to the article, and much correspondance, Loren, C. Gray states:

Thanks for caring about my privacy. I don’t really mind if my name, email address, phone number, social security number or bank account information gets out. I’m just happy to live day-to-day. I don’t have many secrets or things that I care if everyone knows about. I don’t necessarily want to get more email, but I don’t mind if other folks write me as long as they know I’m a bit slow in responding sometimes.

Thanks for the fine words on your website. I’ve passed your comments on to some of my buddies here. We’re grateful for those of you who care enough to pray for us.

I wanted to correct something I read, though. I didn’t actually enlist to come over here. I’m 43, the Director of Customer Service for Clarity Visual Systems in Wilsonville, and live in Portland with my family.

I joined the Army 23 years ago and was an infantryman in the reserves for 13 years. About 10 years ago I went inactive, because I was so busy at work (InFocus at the time) and there was a lot going on at home. I’ve always enjoyed the Army (or so I think) and I wanted to be able to get back in if things slowed down for me at work. I would get calls from recruiters from time to time, but other than that I had no contact with the Army. That is, until October 2005 when I got a letter in the mail asking me to come join the fun. I put my civilian and personal life on hold and reported to Ft. Jackson, SC on the 4th of December. I spent several weeks there, went to Ft. Bragg, NC for a couple of weeks, up to Ft. Dix, NJ for a month of Civil Affairs training and then went back to Ft. Bragg for combat skills training until the 23rd of April. It took almost 5 months from the time I reported for active duty to get to Iraq. I have to spend 12 months here before I can go home and get back to my other life.

Given where I was at in life, I wouldn’t have volunteered to spend a year and a half away from home. But I’m glad to be here and doing something that may make a difference in this world. None of the guys I’m with volunteered for this, but there’s no one here who has a bad attitude about it.

You asked for a picture of me, so I’ve attached one. I’m just leaving the office to convoy home and the outer vest I wear every day is the same one I've worn to all the Practical Rifle matches for the past couple of years.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLoren has been incredibly candid, so I can't do less but to include his picture (wearing his Vest) and his email address: loren.c.gray at

Replace the " at " with the "@" sign if you choose to write him.

I hope you do write to Loren. I recall how rewarding it was to receive supportive letters from total strangers thirty-toomany years ago when I was a lowly Staff Sgt overseas. I'm sure he would appreciate hearing from you.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pompous WaPo Anti-Gun Nut With An Agenda

Gun Safety in Homes

Every now and then we see the mainstream media publish the same tired platitudes that "guns are bad". These articles are presented with no attempt to provide a balanced presentation of the issues, no citation of the studies which are provided in an attempt to support the author's obvious bias, and no consideration of the reason for firearms ownership.

Such is the case in an online discussion of "Gun Safety In The Home" ; we thank Publicola for bringing it to our attention.

Today (May 30, 2006), the Washington Post provided its own private Doctor Phil at 2pm to answer online questions about "Gun Safety In The Home". His qualifications: he's a Harvard Professor. In fact, he's "associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and co-author of a new study on gun safety in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine."

More on that later. *

The exercise fielded exactly 7 questions, all of which were apparently submitted by people in the immediate Washington, DC area (6) and Chicago (1) ... metropolitan areas which, counter to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, refuse to allow private ownership of firearms.

If questions were submitted from outside the Beltway/ChiTown area, they weren't included in the published article.

Here's a sample of the questions, and the answers, provided for your amusement and edification:

Rockville, Md.: Do you have any references to the studies supporting the notion that teaching kids about safety does not work? I find it hard to believe that teaching safety does not have some positive impact.

Matthew Miller: A great reference -- and a sobering one -- is Hardy behavior oriented approaches to reducing youth gun violence. It can be found at

Here are a few examples:

Currently, some 10 percent of elementary school teachers provide some firearm safety education. The most popular curriculum is the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle program (Price et al., 2005). Unfortunately, recent evaluations find that while the Eddie Eagle program may teach children aged 4-7 to verbalize safety messages, these messages do not lead to actual behavior change (Howard 2004; Himle et al 2004; Gatheridge et al 2004). In one study, boys aged 9-15 were strongly warned not to touch guns. However, when left alone with a gun, about a quarter touched and played with it. Almost all then denied doing so when they were asked. None of the boys touched any other forbidden item after being warned against doing so. "The results of the current study indicate that guns hold a unique allure and cast further doubt on the ability of gun admonitions to keep children safe around guns" (Hardy 2003, 352).

Note: is a broken link. The reference simply does not exist.

The reference to "(Price et al., 2005)" is not linked at all. No attempt has been made to provide an explanation or reference to the cited 'study', and the Washington Post has made no effort to provide contributory references.

The same is true ofthe profligrate citations "(Howard 2004; Himle et al 2004; Gatheridge et al 2004).", which are impossible to verify.

It would appear that the citations were invented on the spur of the moment to suggest scientific studies are available to support an opinion which is not, in fact, supportable.

In other words: the author is making it up as he types.

I can do that, because I'm just a pajama-clad blogger and nobody expects more of me. HE can't do that, because he presents himself as an authority.

That is to say, while I may lie with impunity, I don't; I present references to support my claims.
While he may lie with authority, he is unable to providing supporting documentary evidence.

Ergo: I could be a liar, but I'm not; he's unconvincing liar.

Here's another exchange from the original article:

Baltimore, Md.: Have you compiled statistics on how many times a gun has actually been used to protect/defend family members in their homes in recent years? Thank you.

Matthew Miller: I highly recommend David Hemenway's book "PRIVATE GUNS PUBLIC HEALTH" as a one-stop shopping source for clear and unbiased information about the costs and benefits of firearms in the U.S. Here are a few of the statistics Dr. Hemenway notes in his recent book:

Numbers of Uses: The National Research Council (2005) examined the scientific literature on self-defense gun use. They concluded that: "self-defense is an ambiguous term" (p.106), that whether one is a defender or a perpetrator may depend on perspective, and that "we do not know accurately how often armed self-defense occurs or even how precisely to define self-defense" (p. 13). The claim that there are 2.5 million self-defense gun uses each year received no support.

A teenager from Arizona, working with his father, provided a reality check on the claims of millions of self-defense gun uses. They examined all Phoenix area newspaper reports, supplemented by police and court records. Unsubstantiated findings from a Kleck-Gertz study would predict that the police should have known about 98 civilian defensive gun use killings, and 236 defensive gun use firings at criminals during the period studied. Although a homeowner successfully defending his family against a home invasion would provide a juicy news story, a careful investigation by the father-son team could find only two actual cases of self-defense gun use involving a killing or a firing at an assailant. These two incidents appeared to be escalating altercations, with innocent bystanders exposed to the gunfire (Denton & Fabricius 2004).

Is More Better? While there are undoubtedly virtuous incidents of self-defense gun use, there are too many stories of self-defense gone awry. "A five year old girl in Houston is dead after being mistaken for a burglar by her stepfather He shot when someone tried to open the door of the bedroom where he and his wife were sleeping" (, 8/16/04). "A teenager, who celebrated his 16th birthday by playing pranks in his neighborhood, was fatally shot by a neighbor who mistook him for a burglar (the teen) and an unidentified friend were ringing doorbells or knocking on doors and then running away" (St. Petersburg Times, 10/27/03). "A small girl [aged 2] remained in the hospital in critical condition Sunday from a gunshot wound inflicted by a man who had confronted a group of teenagers after one sent a football crashing through the window of his southwest Houston apartment (The man) rushed out, demanding to know who broke the window He took his hand out of his pocket and he had a gun. That's when everybody started running. Police said (the man) raised the pistol toward two of the fleeing juveniles and fired" (Houston Chronicle, 7/24/05).

Claims about the high frequency of self-defense gun use are also contradicted by the data. For example, for sexual assaults, only 1 victim in 1,119 total incidents reported attacking or threatening with a gun (15 used a non-gun weapon; 38 called the police or a guard; 120 attacked without a weapon; 161 ran away; 219 yelled; 343 struggled). In robberies, 1.2% of victims used a gun, whereas 3.8% called the police or guard, 12.7% ran away, 20.5% struggled. In confrontational burglaries, 2.7% of victims used a gun, 3.3% some other weapon, 6.3% ran away or hid, 10.9% struggled, 20.4% yelled or turned out the lights, and 20.1% called the police. In all confrontational crimes, 0.9% of victims reported using a gun, 1.7% a non-gun weapon, 7.2% called the police, 10.1% ran away, 13.8% struggled, and 29.3% did nothing (Hemenway 2005).

The NCVS data show that: (1) gun use in self-defense is very rare; (2) it is not clear whether resistance will or will not reduce the likelihood of injury; and (3) two of the most common forms of "resistance" also appear to be the most successful in terms of reducing the likelihood of injury-calling the police or running away (Hemenway 2005).

Hemmingway is "... an economist at the Harvard School of Public Health".

An economist? At Harvard? School of Public Health? And Milller is "associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center"? Sounds positiviley incestuous.

The book ( "PRIVATE GUNS PUBLIC HEALTH") actually exists. Amazon has two in stock, which it cannot sell. It also lists 32 available from other sellers, who can't find a buyer. Given that this book is rated #478,458 in Amazon Books, that's not surprising.

What is surprising is the review ... provided by "Phillip J. Cook, Ph. D" and copyright by the Massachusetts Medical Society. Their review included the following comments:

The canonical example for injury-control investigators is highway safety, in which the comprehensive approach propounded by Bill Haddon, a physician who served as the first director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration....
Haddon sought to direct the focus in highway safety away from improved driving and toward improved design of vehicles and roadways. For gun violence, the analogy is to focus less on the shooters and more on access to guns and their design. Of course, it is not obvious that an approach that has been successful in reducing highway crashes, which are mostly unintentional, will also be successful in curtailing the intentional acts (suicide and assault) that produce most gun injuries and deaths. If shooters were determined, resourceful people with clear and sustained deadly intent, then regulating guns would likely have little effect on the number of homicides and suicides; they would find a way. But in the real world, as Hemenway spells out, a large portion of serious intentional violence would be less deadly if guns were less readily available or less user-friendly. Furthermore, although gun "accidents" make up only a small fraction of the total gun injuries, they are common enough that the Consumer Product Safety Commission would surely give them high priority if it were not barred from doing so by federal law.

Another feature separates firearms from vehicles: the possibility of "virtuous use." The belief in the importance of giving civilians a means of self-defense has long been used as an argument for preserving the right to keep handguns in the home. In recent decades, that philosophy has fueled a successful effort to ease state restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in public. This campaign has made great use of the work of criminologist Gary Kleck, who concluded from his analysis of survey data that there are millions of virtuous self-defense uses of guns each year. Hemenway has done more than any other scholar in rebutting that absurd claim.
(Emphasis added)

The choice of words and phrases in this review suggests that the reviewer was not objective in his evaluation. Nobody else cared enough to comment, so we are resigned to accepting the single reviewer as either credible ... or not.

One more example, just to make a point:

Washington, D.C.: This topic is a sensitive one for me: When my brother was 8 years old, in the early 80s, he accidentally shot himself with a police revolver my father had borrowed from a friend. [snip]


[snip] Do you feel the penalties for negligent firearms control satisfactory? Would making it mandatory that a negligent parent would see jail help deal with the problem?

Matthew Miller: Parents in cases where a child accesses a gun are rarely charged, but I do not personally think that making it mandatory that a negligent parent would see jail is the best way to reduce accidents and suicide among our children.

[snip] One myth is that where guns are more prevalent killings are less likely -- the exact opposite is the case.

[snip]. Physicians should also be playing a more active role in educating parents about the medical risks involved in firearm ownership and the risk of various storage practices.

Again, the author makes claims about statistical evidence, but does not cite the sources.

Howerver, he does encourage "... [physicians to play ...] a more active role in educating parents about the medical risks involved in firearm ownership and the risk of various storage practices."

* We mentioned that we would discuss "The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine" (APAM) later. This is the time.

The Claremont Institute ("Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership") has said, in response t0 the tendency for some pediatricians to question and counsel patients about Gun Safety In The Home and APAM:

Some medical organizations have urged doctors to tell their patients about the dangers of guns. We all know that misusing guns can be dangerous, but the risks of guns have been blown way out of proportion by groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Even worse is the tendency of some medical organizations to inject their political views favoring gun control into patient education. That's simply unethical. (emphasis added)

The Claremont Institute has also suggested, in the article "DOCS GUN FOR A BAN":

Another slam at kids and guns appeared in the April 2004 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. "Gun Threats Against and Self-Defense Gun Use by California Adolescents" studied gun use among a group of Californians aged 12 through 17. Only 4% of them reported ever having been threatened with a gun. The earthshaking scientific contribution this article makes is that these 4% were boys who tended to threaten others and whose parents didn't know where they were after school. Did we need a yearlong Harvard study to tell us that? And what about the 96% who never had been threatened with a gun? Can we learn anything from good kids who stay out of trouble? The authors apparently think not. (emphasis added)

In fact, it is not only professionally unethical, but also perhaps unlawful, for physicians to suggests safety measures relating to firearms ownership and storage ... an area where they typically have no personal experience or professional training.

Only a personal opinion, which is presented under the guise of "I'm Your Doctor, I Know What's Right".

These articles clearly suggest that the authors of the "yearlong Harvard study (studies)" cleave more to an agenda than to well-considered scientific study.

Based on the unscientific agenda propounded in the root article, we tend to agree.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Practical Shooter in Iraq

One of the gun clubs here in NW Oregon includes a Practical Rifle match every month ... rain or shine.

It's really a "Tactical Rifle" match because Randy S., the guy who has accepted responsibility for keeping the program going, works hard to make the stages as realistic as possible. There are frequent short-range and long-range change-ups in some stages, and most involve shooting from uncomfortable positions. Because this is a year-around competition, the participants often find themselves trying to assume a comfortable shooting position while bellied up to a rocky, muddy bern with rain coming down the back of their necks.

Randy recommends tactical vests, which seems like a good idea considering some of the stages require reloads when it's just not 'practical' to dig around for a reload magazine which you can only get to by rolling over onto your back -- or which might be in the mud puddle you are curled up in because that's the only place where you can see all of your targets.

It's not a game for people who object to getting mud on their shirts, or who think it's unreasonable to shoot from behind a berm and then getting up and running 30 yards to the next shooting position.

You might say it's as realistic as Basic Training. Perhaps more-so.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usA couple of months ago, Randy forwarded an email he had received from a young man, Loren, who had been a member of this muddy group. Loren enlisted in the Army last year, and this year he's serving his country in Iraq. Taking advantage of the mil-net email capabilities, Loren sent a letter home to the people who would appreciate hearing about his recent experiences; the guys who had given him his first taste of Practical Rifle.

I wrote Loren to thank him for his service, and he gave me permission to quote the letter. I've edited it only to suit this format. All of the words are Loren's.

Hello fellow warriors,

I hope you are doing well these days and the Practical Rifle gang is going strong.

I finally made it to Iraq. I'm in beautiful Kirkuk now and getting ready to go to work. The resort I'm staying at is called forward operating base (FOB) Warrior, just outside of Kirkuk. Kirkuk has a population of about 700,000 people. Kurds make up about 60% of the population, Arabs are about 30% and the rest are Turkmen and Assyrian.

The company I was assigned to is in another part of the country. They split my team off and sent us to Kirkuk. Since we've been here I've been split off from my team to manage an Iraqi non-profit organization. My official title here is Kirkuk Business Center Advisor.

The Kirkuk Business Center (KBC) is focused on facilitating economic growth in Kirkuk province. There are 8 employees and 3 State Department advisors that I manage. Even though my title is Advisor, I have compete authority over all the operations here. These guys have been told what to do and how to do it for so long, they can't run the business on their own. I could do like my predecessors and direct the entire operation for them. My plan is to coach them to run the business for themselves. One of these days the coalition forces will leave and they'll be on their own. The people at the KBC are good people and the service they provide will be essential to local businesses over the coming years.

When I leave I want to make sure they can run things independently, without our guidance and money. I'll probably replace the manager shortly because he isn't effectively managing the operation. I need someone who is energetic and can interface well with the local business and political leaders.

If you want to know more about the KBC, go to

It's still a dangerous place here and I'm keeping my head down, so to speak.

We sent a young kid home a few nights ago and the ceremony was very honoring. This was my first experience. Even though we were still running missions, about 800 people from the 101st, my unit, some Air Force and private security stood in formation on the flight line just before midnight. A C-130 landed, positioned itself and lowered its rear ramp. It shut off its engines and everything else that makes noise. In the silent darkness we saluted as a US flag was presented, placed over the casket by the honor guard and the casket was slowly loaded onto the aircraft. Once the casket was secured we walked away in silence as the soldier's unit huddled around the soldier to say good bye one last time. I hope his family was told about how much respect he was shown as he left here. I hope we don't have to meet like that on the flight line again.

Each Practical Rifle match is really another day of training. I'm thankful for all the training I've had with you guys because I'm now doing something with it. Even though I'm working as an advisor here, there are still days when we run other types of missions or go out in support of something the 101st is doing. I carry and M-4 rifle and a Beretta M-9 pistol and I don't have to concentrate on what I'm doing with my weapons and my mind can focus on the situation I'm in. All the time we've trained together has made weapons handling and employment 2nd nature.

I'd say the most difficult part of working over here is having to wear so much crap everywhere. I wear the regular ACU uniform, an ACH (advanced combat helmet), ballistic eyewear, combat earplugs, the IBA (interceptor body armor) vest with SAPI (I don't know what that stands for) plates (heavy plates in the front and back of the IBA that will stop a 7.62 round), my Blackhawk tactical vest, a backpack and a Camelback with 1.5 liters of water. I carry my rifle and pistol, 270 rounds of 5.56, 45 rounds of 9mm, a thermite grenade, a smoke grenade, various knives, a Leatherman and about 30 pounds of gear in my backpack including a computer. I don't need to, but I carry 6-8 cans of Diet Coke in my bag too. With all that stuff hanging off your body, it makes moving around kind of difficult and it gets really hot. Then when you get into the humvee, the space is so tight you can't hardly move with all that stuff on and a rifle next to your leg. That's where I really prefer a cross-draw holster over a thigh holster.

I love my M-4. I have my flashlight and green laser permanently mounted on the handguard rails. I put on an ACOG or my dot sight, depending on the mission. I tuned the trigger so it's lighter and smoother and I put on a First Samco pistol grip that fits my hand better. I'd rather have my Glock than the M-9, but it's a backup anyway. I really like the M-240B 7.62 machinegun. It's really smooth and accurate for me. The M-249 5.56 version is a little too light and jumpy. The good old M2 .50 cal is still as good as it always was. It feels really good to rip stuff up with that one.

We start a lot of fires with the M2 because we mostly use the incendiary rounds. As with everything, regular maintenance is the key to their performance.

Keep up the good training, you never know when you'll need to put it into action. I'll catch up with you soon.


When Loren replied with permission to print his letter, he also had some other things to say. I'll keep this short by posting that in a separate article, but I do want to tell Loren:

going homeThank you for your service to your country, and for giving us all some perspective on the war in Iraq. It's only a coincidence that I received your email on Memorial Day, but I'm grateful to you for providing such a timely reminder of what they did, all of those fine young men who made such a terrible sacrifice for their country. We visited their graves and honored them today, as we do every year. THIS is to honor those who accept the risk for us this year. We want you all to come home. We know some of you will not; you have accepted an arduous and dangerous task. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you every day.

If you would like to write to Loren, please email me (see the bottom of the page) and I'll forward it to him.