Saturday, June 20, 2009

Message from SWMBO

I recently received this (uncredited) email from SWMBO. I don't think she wrote it, but I don't doubt that it almost perfectly matches her life philosophy.

For those of you who see me at matches and ask "How's SWMBO?", this is the primary answer. In the implied context, it speaks of growing old. In the larger context, it speaks of a heart which accepts life's travails.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful.

But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.

So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore...

I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become.. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.. And I shall eat dessert every single day(if I feel like it).

In the short term, SWMBO has once again gone to The Cabin In The Woods this weekend, this time with her sister Jo. For her, this is a place of peace. A place where she fed BBQ to friends, seeds to the birds and chipmunks, and read quietly on the sun-lit porch for hours at a time.

In the more immediate present, her last CT delivered disquieting news. The cancer, only last month residing slightly, has again begun to grow. He oncologist was scheduled to go to a symposium in Portland yesterday, where he will present her 'case' in hopes that other oncologists can suggest new regimens of treatment; as mentioned here before, the chemotherapy proved to be more powerful than her body can tolerate.

She personally remains more positive. She sent me this link to a television news article titled:
"Revolutionary New Surgery May Help Cancer Patients
The most ambitious effort yet in personalized cancer care is taking place at Massachusetts General in Boston."
This reportage is backed up by this article from the McClatchy article on "Gene-based Personal Medicine"

Her oncologist has promised to see if she can get her into this program. It will "require travel", and perhaps temporary residence for some months in Boston so that she can (if accepted) receive the full treatment with frequent evaluations of her progress.

This is the most encouraging news we have received lately, and for those of you who have been praying for SWMBO ... thank you. Your intercetion helps as much as anything the doctors can do, and contributes a positive force which helps us to keep the faith.

Match Prep

I have it from a reliable source that there are significant 'needs' which must be met before attending a match:

  • Have a gun
  • Have equipment (belt, holsters, mag carriers, magazines)
  • Have ammunition
I've been just a little bit short of the third equipment requirement during recent match-days, so at the encouragement of The Hobo Brasser (who just wants SWMBO news, and to squad with someone he can beat) I set myself down to load ammunition for next weekend's Dundee match.

I figured 200 rounds should do me. I ran short of primers at the end ... not because I can't buy any, but because I rationed myself to 200 primers and I dropped two on the floor and one into the gaping "discarded primers" well in the cast-aluminum base of my Lee Turret Press. (I wasn't about to unbolt the press from the bench just to dig out one primer. By this time next month, I may rethink my position. It will still be there.)

I had loaded the first 100, was ready to powder-charge and bullet-seat the next 50, and was saving the last 50 (*47, counting the 3 lost primers) for Part II of my reloading session.

Figuring it was time for a break, I built myself a cold-cuts, crackers & dip lunch and sat down with a cold Weinhard's Ale while I watched the last half of the Donnie Brasco DVD I had bought at the Used Books store on Friday, after work.

I had never seen the movie, but I always admired the work of both Johnny Depp and Al Pacino, and the first half (perhaps two-thirds) of the movie was riveting as I watched these actors develop their characters with skill, precision and poignancy.

Just as I was slicing into the Bavarian Ham, I found myself watching Johnny Depp (Joe/Donnie) industriously using a bone-saw the hack the left foot of a fresh-slaughtered WiseGuy Corpse.

I paused, the video, carefully wrapped up the meat and cheese and put the lid on top of the cream-chease and garlic dep. Then I went up stairs and started working on my computer. Put on Henry Mancini's "Greatest Hits" album.

Maybe later tonight I'll finish my reloading; maybe tomorrow.

Whenever it happens, it will be a bit longer before I finish watching the movie. And I won't watch it while I'm eating lunch.

I've never been a friend of gore .. or Al Gore, or Gore Vidal.

They all make me lose my appetite, and make me want to wrap my head in duct tape.

Funny, I don't LOOK Jewish

My mom always has advice for me. Well, she's 91 and with that much life-experience she ought to know what she's talking about, right?

And my sister, Omgod, she disapproves of nearly everything about the way I live my life. And she's not afraid to tell me about it.

Both of these two ladies, bless them, consider guilt to be the most effective means to civilize the errant male. Ask my father, and my brother-in-law!

So when I saw this video, I thought about how very, very happy I am that I do NOT have GPS * in my car.

*GPS = Geographic Philippine System. And no, the driver doesn't look anything like me. (Although she does have a lot more patience than I.)


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Primers = Bottleneck

I've been writing about the crisis in reloading component availability, recently, about as much as I've written about any other subject.

The reason for this is: I may not like the politics of President O, and I may easily find fault in the Socialistic Cultural trend of The Brits, but the single most immediate problem facing Competitive Shooters today is the increasing inability to expect reloading components to be readily available.

Prices have risen during the past 18 months, faster than any period in my 25-year (+) participation in Practical Shooting competition. And those of us who spend much of our "disposable income" and often some income which would ordinarily be expended on "essentials", are usually willing to pay a fair market price ... or even an exorbitant market price ... just to ensure our attendance at the next match.

Unfortunately, reloading components are not now readily available at any price.

I suspect that I am not atypical in having sufficient bullets, cases and powder to maintain a basic stock of loaded ammunition. Sure, I would have to cut back to two instead of three matches a month, but that's bearable.

The availability of most components (again: powder, bullets & brass) is fairly generous. Lots of alternative sources, and while the cost & availability of brass for 10mm and .38 super is perhaps not as varied as for 9mm, .45acp and even the forty short-and-wimpy, at least that reloading component is usable. That is to say, you can spend some time after shooting a stage and pick up many of the expended cartridge cases.

You can use a wide variety of bullet weights, designs and dimensions; there must be at least a dozen different powders by as many manufacturers who provide a gunpowder which is at least marginally usable ... if not optimal ... for whatever caliber you or I choose to reload.

But primers seem to be another situation entirely.

How hard can it be?

I can load .38 super with ANY small primer, although I would prefer the small rifle primer because it is said to be less likely to puncture and/or leak under high pressures.

And I can use either rifle or pistol Large Primers for .45acp and 10mm.

What's the problem?

NSH: Not Stocked Here.

Why are primers so hard to find for pistols & rifles, when we still see shotgun primers almost everywhere we look?

It may be because there are not as many people competing for the available stores. True, Military and Police purchasers need to build some stock of shotgun ammunition, but certainly less than, say, two percent. (Yes, I needed to bend over to grab this statistic out ofr thin air.)

Pistol ammunition is more commonly expended in military and LEO arms, as is rifle ammunition. They are more extensively reloaded by civilian users, too. Consequently, the proportional supply of primers for shotguns is less burdoned by demand.

The results we are all well aware is that primers which will fit in pistol or rifle cartridges are in much greater damand than shotgun reloading components, including primers.

Is this due to "hoarding"? Perhaps. Michael Bane links to a commentary which seems to summarize the reason why the demand far outpaces the supply in his recent article "Primer Shortages To Continue".

To summarize:
  1. primers are needed to fill an increasing need for LEO, Military and public ammunition;
  2. the increased demand of loaded ammunition is evinced also by private citizens who reacted to shortage of components, and the fewer primers are perceived as being available, the higher the demand.
This is exacerbated by the concerns that the Obama Administration will eventually impose draconian controls on the availability of ammunition, and reloading components, in a Liberal attempt to restrict the effective availability of firearms to private citizens.

Realistic? Maybe not, you say. So far, however, even if this is not part of the Obama agenda, it seems to be working out that way.

The Gun Grabbers policy has ever been:
  • Nobody ever NEEDS a gun;
  • Even if you do NEED a gun, you don't need more than one;
  • And if you NEED a gun, for hunting or even [gasp!] for self defense, how much ammunition would you need? Surely one, perhaps two, cartridges should be sufficient to either get your deer or save your ass.
Well, they may not publically put it so baldly, but read between the lines and that is the best interpretation you can put on what they say.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bullshit! See it; know it!

Last week (June 7) I wrote about the rumor that American Fire-Fighter Team Chiefs were being fired (let go, demoted, bypassed ... you choose the expression) because they had spanish-only speaking team members and they, the Supervisors, could not communicate with them in their native language.

Titled "What we have here ... is a failure, to communicate!" I made the points that:
  • The issue was not current, but several years old;
  • The original article was biased in being written by a reporter who failed to check the facts with multiple sources;
  • And the primary source was a 'crew chief' who was demoted not because of inadequate language skills, but because of being unqualified for the position.
  • Multiple other sources supported the statements of the Oregon Department of Forestry, in the person of spokesman Rod Nichols.
  • No other sources were available which supported the charges in the original Portland Television Channel KATU article.
My sources were easily found on the Internet, and consisted primarily of the legitimate spokesmen for the Oregon Department of Forestry, Rod Nichols, and sources quoting Mr. Nichols.

Since that time, I found a comment from Mr. Nichols. (I invite you to go to the cited link and read his comments, where he very clearly describes the difficulty in defending ones self or ones employer against unsubstantiated rumor.)

The thing is, as I mentioned before, the MainStream Medis -- despite it's protestations that it is a more legitimate news-source because its published articles are subject to "multiple layers of checks and balances".

In this case, we see that this supposed oversight protection of Truth and Reality does not necessarily exist. Even the most junior reporter in a local news-gathering environment is often not subject to even the most cursory review and confirmation process befoe being broadcast.

And we, in our trust and naivete, are inclined to accept their published stories as fact without the most elementary attempt to determine the veracity of their assertions.


The steps I took to confirm or disavow the 'facts' presented in the original story ... and in the resulting Fox news broadcast video ... are not beyond anyone who is sufficiently Internet-savvy to access and read the story. I simply plugged in the basic story key-words to GOOGLE, and pushed the SEND button. I was presented with a plethora of hits and it was up to me to find those which were no more than second-echelon sources. (First echelon is the Story; second echelon is the "Story about the Story", or either rebuttals or conformations of the information contained in the original story.)

It's not more difficult than referring to WWW.DICTIONARY.COM to determine if the word you use is the correct word for the meaning you intended. It should be the basic minimum of background checking for anyone who desires to forward what seems to be controversial statement.

The purpose of this article is to encourage everyone who reads it to check the facts before you forward that tittilating YouTube video to your friends and family.

The folks who write to me have often sent me Urban Legend warnings about computer Urban Legends ("Forward this email to all of your friends, and Microsoft will pay you money for each person who receives it") which cause you to proliferate lies to your friends and family; and "nuisance viruses" ("The Oregon Forestry Department is firing Fire Crew Chiefs Because They Don't Speak Spanish").

Because the basic premise is not true, the only effect is the proliferation of junk mail and often some people become upset because they honestly believe that the cited situation ... either positive or negative, is true.

In fact, a minimum amount of research will completely dispell your belief in the concept. But instead of investing that time and effort to research the Legend, the proposition is proliferated to many other people.

Often the perceptions of the general public causes damage to well-intentioned publics works, such as the Oregon Department of Forestry.

If nothing else, it not only upsets the recipients of these Viral emails, but it encourages them to write to the appropriate agency to speak out against a situation which does not, in fact, exist.

My advise to you is that if you receive an email which claims to represent a great Public Wrong, research it yourself before you forward it to your unsuspecting friends and family.

One of my primary sources to determine the veracity of a rumor is Snopes.

In this case, no results were found in SNOPES.COM, so it is obvious that SNOPES is not the only reliable source to confirm or dispute a rumor.

However a simple search on "oregon forestry spanish" to GOOGLE returns sufficient hits (302,000) to satisfy the moste determined searcher.

So, before you sent that email to your friends, I encourage you to do your own preliminary research. This may not be sufficient for you to definitively determine that an assertion is or is not true; however, it may help you determine whether a question is absolutely true, or that it is sufficientl controversial for you to forward the question to other folks.

After all, their research skills may not be any better than yours, but they may be more determined to get to the bottom of the question. And if they provide evidence that the assertion which you have proclaimed is not reasonable, won't you feel silly to have forwarded it to everybody you know?

And well you should!