Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fire Sale ... NOT!

Okay, so nobody values my most precious possessions as much as I.

I won't sell my stuff for one cent on the dollar (I'll ignore the "Monopoly Money" bid as despicable), I won't leave SWMBO to move to San Francisco (she wouldn't go there any more than I), and I won't vote for Nero for dog-catcher, let alone Leader of the Free World.

On the other hand, it's good that my little April Fool's Post served to show me who my friends are.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fire Sale

I'm tired of struggling with my reloading press.

I've fought it for months, and the alternative is just not working for me. When it takes me longer to load up enough ammunition for a match that it takes to shoot the match, it verges on more effort than it is worth.

Anybody want to buy a slightly used progressive loading press? Dies and turret assemblies set up for 10mm/.40S&W, .38 super/9x19, and .45ACP. I also have dies for .38 Special, plus an entire turret assembly to go with it (including powder measure). Make an offer.

I don't want to reload any more. The last time I tried it, I tore up my hands ... just when I thought I was past the whole eczema thing. Every time I handle a pistol or try to reload, it just aggravates the condition. A week ago, my hands looked fine. After reloading a lousy 200 rounds, my hands look worse than ever.

Don't need the pistols, either. I have several appropriate for USPSA competition ... write for details and be prepared to make me an offer.

Since I won't be competing in Practical Pistol any more, I won't need this BLOG. I'm shutting it down. This is the last post ... you won't have Jerry The Geek to kick around any more.

Speaking of which, since I won't be competing and I won't be blogging, I won't have my old friends any more. So I won't need this computer -- I won't be getting email. It's probably infected by the Conficter worm anyway. Make me an offer?

Won't need those two Digital Cameras, either. I started the blog, and took the pictures, to illustrate Practical Pistol and Rifle competition, where you won't see me again. Besides, I've lost my Server Host and all the stills and videos from years gone by. One camera is 7MB and one is 10MB density, both are pocket-size Hewlett-Packards with video capability: make me an offer.

Write to me at The Usual Email Address. But write soon ... when I sell the computer, I'll hold a garage sale to get rid of the furniture, move to San Francisco and change my registration from Republican to Democrat so I can vote for Barack Hussein Obama's Second, Third and Fourth term as Dear Leader!

Life's easier, when you're a sheeple.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tobacco Tax

As if the CONFICKER Worm wasn't enough to plague us, we also have Politicians.

Worms are everywhere we look.

Politicians, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to increase the Federal tax of that Demon Weed ... Tobacco.

As a confirmed Marlboro Man (" I miss my lung, Bob") I am grateful for this venue to vent my anger.

Federal taxes on a pack of cigarettes are now one dollar. Thanks to President Nero, a new law, beginning April 1 (coincidence? I don't think so!) will add about sixty-two cents ($0.62) to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

Federal Tax Increase: The congressional SCHIP bill signed by President Obama on February 4, 2009 includes an increase in the federal tobacco tax (mostly from an increase in the federal tax by 61.66 cents per pack of cigarettes) and other changes, which the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated would increase budget revenue by $32.5 billion over 5 years and by $65.6 billion over 10 years.

Tobacco taxes continue to be a focus of attention for states in 2009, with dual interests: raising state revenue and achieving health public policy goals.

Let us dispose of the "achieving health public policy goals" immediately. If Nero's goals are met by his committed timetable, health insurance will become a national issue within the year. Before the end of his first (and hopefully final) term of office, it will be both national policy and federal law. As a committed Socialist (Nero is, after all, nationalizing the Banking industries and the Automobile industry, even as you read these words), he will follow the National Health example of Great Britain.

In other words, the National Health Service will not provide medical help for overweight (fat) people, nor will it provide life-extending services for old people. Particularly, it will not provide medical health for people who smoke. It's simply "not in the budget". Great Britain (see: Canada) has already learned that a National Health program cannot server it's (involuntary) subscribers and consequently must cut expenses on "fiscally unsupportable patients". Even if these patients could pay for the treatment (again, using the experiences of Great Britain and Canada as models) they will not be allowed access to the facilities because there is no incentive for hospitals and medical care facilities to invest in the expensive machinery, or the not-so-expensive (under Socialism) surgical expertise needed to service "extreme" patient needs.

So when someone tells you that the increase in tobacco taxes is part of the "achieving health public policy goals" effort, just call them either a liar or a fool, and move on.

On the other hand, raising revenue is definitely part of the goals of a politician. Especially such an out-of-control bunch of politicians which have become incumbent under the leadership of Nero.

After all, we have just doubled the National Debt, and have gone from being the most prosperous nation to the most-indebted nation within the short span of Nero's First 100 Days.

And if He has His way, we will see our National Debt tripled before the year is out.

Right now, a carton of cigarettes costs nearly $10 more than it did six weeks ago; that cost will increase another $6.20 tomorrow, which raises the cost from $50 to $57 (approximate).

Let's go back to our earlier question:


Answer: Because They Can.

Actually, the money is going to fund the S-CHIP program.

That's right. For "Children who are not otherwise insured" (State Children's Health Insurance Program). "Children", in this case, are defined as 'individuals up to the age of 25 years who are still living at home'.

Here's another question:

Who is this going to hurt the most?

Answer: those who can least afford it.
Not only are the payers of cigarette taxes poorer as a group than the payers of these other taxes, but there are fewer of them. The burden on the lowest-earning 20 percent of households from a cigarette tax is 37 times heavier than if the government raised the money with the federal income tax.
(The above article debunks five specific "myths" about the benefit of increasing taxes on tobacco:
  1. Higher cigarette taxes deter youth from smoking.
  2. Smoking is harmful and cigarette taxes reduce those harms.
  3. Smokers act irrationally in believing smoking has benefits, and the tax corrects for that mistake.
  4. Raising cigarette taxes is proper tax policy because smokers impose costs on government and society.
  5. We need more revenue.
Well, it must be admitted that with the new "Tax and Spend" policies of the current administration, the money has to come from SOMEWHERE. One can't be criticized too strongly for wondering from where this money is to be found. Still, it's difficult to believe that increasing the tax on tobacco will bring in nine trillion dollars over the next ten years. Are smokers destined to shoulder the burden of the entire national debt?

Wait a minute! In 1994, the Clintons proposed that a fifty cent tax per pack of cigarettes would pay for HillaryCare. I guess, if you're a Liberal, this sounds reasonable.

But then, the Clintons were not Nero.


IF you can read this, your computer may not be infected.

On the other hand, you may be.

"CONFICKER" is a virus which takes over computers and turns them into 'bots'. Think BORG ("Resistance is Futile; You will be Assimilated.") Rumor has it that it will be activated on April 1, 2009. Really? I don't know, but reliable sources say it's going to happen.

Fox News has a valuable article which defines the obvious symptoms, and what you can do about it, in case you are a victim of this April Fools Day trick (which may or may not be a real threat ... until we get hurt, it's hard to tell whether or not a threat is real.)

One of the characteristics of the bug seems to be that it prevents its victims from accessing the anti-virus websites which offer a 'fix':
One scary thing about Conficker is that it spreads without human involvement, moving from PC to PC by exploiting a security hole in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

The hole was fixed in October, but if your computer doesn't get automatic updates from Microsoft, you could be vulnerable.

Lots of computer worms disable antivirus outright, which can be a tip-off that something is wrong.

But Conficker doesn't do that. Instead, Conficker blocks infected PCs from accessing the antivirus vendors' and Microsoft's Web sites, so victims won't get automatic updates and can't download the Conficker removal tools that those companies have developed.

So see what Web sites you can visit. If you can navigate the Internet freely except for sites owned by Microsoft or antivirus vendors such as Symantec Corp., McAfee Inc. or F-Secure Corp., your PC might have Conficker or a similar bug.

What are these "blocked sites"?

One of them is the Symantic Anti-Virus website (specifically, this one which deals with Conficker Worm).
Another is the Microsoft Malware Protection Center website; here's the MS warning page on Conficker.

So if you click on these links, and you can't make a connection ... there's a good chance (according to the Fox advisory) that you have a problem.

The computers most at risk are those which are running Microsoft XP or VISTA, and do not automatically receive updates from Microsoft (which should provide the latest 'fixes' to the notoriously vulnerable MS Operating Systems.)


There's a moral to this story.

That is, if you do NOT already receive and install MS updates, if you do NOT subscribe to a good Anti-Virus software package, or if you don't have the latest updates, or if you haven't scanned your hard-disk lately, just remember the words of Robo-Cop:

"Secure the computer, or There May Be Trouble."

No, that's not right. What I should have said is: BUY the security software, INSTALL the software, UPDATE the viral profiles regularly, and SCAN your hard-disk often!

PS: If you don't see any updates to this blog by the end of the week, I may be the one in trouble. In that case, I expect one of my many friends to send me the 'fix'. Preferably, without adding insult to my injury.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour

Late Saturday Night, SWMBO advised me that we were suppose to be observing "Earth Hour".

This was purportedly "a global event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change."

I said: "Holy Gosh Darn-it, Bat-Girl, we have dropped the ball!"

She replied: "Oh, I don't think so. The lights are out in the Computer Room and the bedroom."

So we turned the computer off.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Introduction to USPSA: April, 2009 (Part III)

I'm changing the parameters for ti Introduction to USPSA class, scheduled for Saturda April 4, 2009.

I'll have a new Demonstrator for that class.

No reflection on "Yawn", who has been a huge help at several classes. In fact, I'm encouraging him to take his enthusiasm for the sport to a new level of volunteerism. I think he would be a fine officer in either the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club, or the Columbia Cascade Section. He's a natural hard-working volunteer. I think his energy and enthusiasm have been wasted by working only as a Demonstrator at the USPSA class. (Yes, it's an important function; but he deserves the chance to grow, and I can't give it to him.)

I want to use the post of Demonstrator to the Introduction to USPSA as an entry post for more volunteers, and toward that end I am inclined to use this function to encourage volunteerism.

It has occurred to me that a Limited-Division Master-Class shooter would be an excellent choice.

Not only can we train a potential Instructor replacement, but it expands the list of folks who are given the opportunity to "Give Back To The Sport".

One of the things I'm looking for, by soliciting the assistance of a new Demonstrator, is to re-evaluate the course Syllabus.

Jan ("Yawn") has been extremely helpful in the past, and he has helped to define the information flow from Instructor to New Shooter. He was a member of my July, 2008, class so he knows what New Shooters need to know.

But it's unfair to call upon his personal time too much, and so I've decided to accept the offer made by Guy early this month.

Guy has been competing in USPSA/IPSC since Christ was a D-shooter, While there is no doubt that he has already Done His Bit with his monthly column on "Reloading" for The Front Sight Magazine, that's no reason why he can't be allocated a spell doing the fun stuff by helping new shooters learn about how to compete in USPSA.

Guy volunteered for the position, I accepted his offer, and he has already confirmed the acceptance.

I've already encouraged a "New Shooter" to assist in this course, working under the assumption that he would provide insight into the issues that other New Shooters would need special insight. Now I'm inviting an Experienced Shooter to provide a contrasting perspective.

It is my hope that encouraging more competitors to Volunteerism will in turn encourage them to volunteer for more 'public offices' within the organization.

Another reason for this change is to encourage 'veterans' of the class to move on to offices of more responsibility. We need to do whatever it takes to encourage a New Generation of administrators in USPSA. These energetic folks can choose to serve at the club, the Section or the National level, or they can switch to the fast-track of taking Range Officer Certification classes and serve on the weekly (0r monthly) local level ... or expand their training to serve as Range Officers at Major Matches.

Even if they go no further than to certify as Range Officers for Club Matches, they will help the rest of us to become more familiar with Competition Rules.

Ultimately, I hope this policy will provide some more administrators at all levels. We do need to encourage competitors to become Range Officers, and we need New Blood at both the Section and Area Level.

Whether they go on to serve at the National Level is up to them. The United States Practical Shooting Association has enjoyed a multi-year boon of qualified, experienced and dedicated people for the past several years. These folks are beginning to retire. If we don't find energetic and qualified (experienced) new candidates determined to ASK to be voted into these positions, we will find ourselves with the same tired, clue-less candidates which we suffered a decade or more ago.

We need new blood. Some folks work toward this goal by encouraging Juniors to enter USPSA competition. But we don't have a program designed to funnel experienced, mature people to Volunteering to take a leadership role.

I'm doing my part to find new people to fill these essential roles. What are YOU doing to encourage volunteerism?

Reloading and Dundee Match

As it happens, I slept late last Saturday morning and didn't even wake up until 8:30am. This was a short half hour before the Dundee match started. Given only 30 minutes to dress, load the truck and drive over anhour to the match, I decided not to compete in this match. So I still have no idea how my newly reloaded ammunition will perform.

There is no image so sad as a temporary reloading press set up to see the morning sun, on a day when the ammo will necessarily stay 'in the box'.

I may have saved myself the trip, and the match fee. I don't even know if the ammunition I loaded so laboriously on Friday will work. I'll test-fire it next weekend before I teach the Introduction to USPSA class at ARPC. If it doesn't perform reliably, I'll have a week before I need to have new ammunition for the ARPC Monthly Match a week from then.