Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Smallest Minority Goes to PayPal - NOT!

The Smallest Minority - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Kevin at "The Smallest Minority" (one individual) wanted to contribute a gun for a raffle at the forthcoming "Gun Bloggers Rendezvous", and chose "Soldiers' Angels" to run the ticket sales.

Paypal closed down Soldiers Angel's account ... because of this raffle ... because PayPal is entirely anti-gun.

They (Soldiers' Angels) had to take the raffle off the list of contributors before they were allowed to continue accepting donations from 'other sources'.

Kevin's pissed, Soldiers' Angels may have lost some contributions during the outage, and it appears that the raffle may be 'off' after only 42 contributions had been received.

I have less than $50 in my paypal account. Maybe I'll look around for some better way to send money to worthwhile recipients, such as Day By Day Cartoons by Chris Muir.

Credit Card Fraud Part Deux

Ahhhhh ... that's much better.
I received my new credit card today. It has been exactly one week since it was cancelled, six days since I phoned my Credit Card Provider and requested a new card. (See Credit Card Fraud)

All I had to do was call the 24-hour hotline to get it activated.

Remember how I had to ask all those "security questions" to order a replacment card? Guess what ... they have a whole 'nother raft of "security questions" before they'll activate it.

Actually, they only ask you to "using the number pad on your telephone, type in the first four letters of your mother's maiden name, or enter the four-digit security code for your account if you have provided one".

Let me see, is "JONES" entered as if you're texting, or just punch the same #6 key for both the "N" and the "O"? I tried it both ways, they wouldn't take any of them. So they put on a "Customer Assistance Associate" for the old Third Degree.

I wasn't taking no sass from that child. Spoke Amurruhcun Englitch, but he talked so fast I couldn't make out what he was saying. By the time we finished and he declared my account activated, I had asked him as many questions as he had asked me.

Now all I have to do is go to my online accounts and update them with my new number and expiration date. Oh, yeah, they didn't give me the old expiration date, as they had told me last week.

I'm sure looking forward to explaining why I need to change my credit card number at Amazon. Anybody have the URL for that? Never mind, I'll find it. They don't call me a Geek for nothing.

PS: do you know, my editing software accepted "Amurruhcun Englitch" without calling a spell-checker time out? Surprised me, too. There must be a lesson there. Okay, it's probably because the words are capitalized, but still ... I guess I must be easily impressed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free National Health Care, eh?

Pajamas TV - Louder With Crowder - PJTV Undercover: Steven Crowder Investigates CanadaCare...Will ObamaCare Be Any Better? - Video

I found Pajama Media Televison (www.pjtv.com) today and I was very impressed with the quality of the content there.

Especially, I was impressed by a 20 minute 'article' exploring the limitations of Free National Health Care, as experienced in Canada. So I blogged the video so you can see it.

Unfortunately, I have since discovered that "The Smallest Minority" has linked to the same URL, over a week ago, for the same reasons. (Also see "Tell me again why GWB was so stupid." Not related, but ... well, maybe.)

So you can go there and see it, or click on the link at the top of the page.

In summary, the reasons why Free national Health Care doesn't serve Canadians well include:
  • Waiting periods in emergency rooms are cited in terms of hours, not minutes
  • Health Clinics are not open on weekends
  • Even if you want a simple procedure, such as a blood test for tetnus, you almost always have to go to a Family Doctor
  • Family Doctors are largely unable or unwilling to take new patients. The waiting list here is years
  • If you need to see a specialist, expect to wait for a period of over a year
  • Waiting to receive necessary medical care may take so long that the condition you originally wished to resolve may have worsened to an extreme degree .... an ailment which could possible be cleared up with an overnight hospital visit may be put off until it can be resolved only with extreme measures (in one cited case, with multiple amputations)
  • The waiting list for 'expensive' testing or procedures (such as an MRI) may be years; that period may be shortened because, well, the people who were in line before you died before they could get help
  • The good thing is that any treatment you get, if and when you get it, is 'free'; the bad news is that you pay for it in your taxes (Ontario taxes are 50% - 100% higher than California!) even if you don't need it
  • More good news: you CAN go to a "Private Caregiver", although the waiting list is still extraordinarily long; the bad news is that (for example) a blood test can cost nearly a thousand dollars. When you can get in.
You may think I'm making this up, or mis-understanding the situation as represented. Well, I'm just reflecting what I've seen on the video. Before you take me to task, please do invest 20 minutes of your time to see the video.

In the mean time, I'll be researching the question independently. I find this all very hard to believe, although I've read (and written about) similar anecdotal evidence.

One thing is for certain: I won't want my congress-critter voting in favor of any National Health Care Bill (by any name) until they have had the time to read it, consider it thoroughly, and discuss it in session.

Obama, however, seems to want this passed before the Summer is over. He doesn't put as much priority on achieving a consensus as he does on having his will confirmed in law.

Again, I'm a cranky old man who resist change instinctively. It may be just me, but I think this whole National Health Care thing sounds a lot like a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman who demands that you make a decision right now.

That kind of deal presupposes that when you look at the contract in the light of day, you'll see it for the charlatanry that it is.

I'm speaking here of Encyclopedia Salesmen and Snake Oil Hucksters, of course.

How hot is it?

It's so hot that yesterday we had an electrical 'interruption' (something exploded in the green box on the corner) yesterday at 5pm. That was at the end of a one-hundred-degree temperature day -- at 5pm. The house systems surged, but the surge protectors and UPS saved the computer

Tonite at 8pm I had another power surge, at 8pm. Nothing exploded, and I thought that my UPS had saved all the systems. (The temperature today reached 103.)

I got the UPS rebooted, and the router is up. But I couldn't get my desktop to boot. It lost its BIOS. I can't find my system disk, so I'll have to take it into the Puter Hospital tomorrow. They built it, they can fix it. And maybe even find me a boot disk to replace the one I 'miss-filed'.

So I'm in the downstairs dining room, the coolest room in the place (upstairs is still 93 degrees ... 89 with the air conditioner running), and working with my laptop. This may have been one of the better investments I've made lately, along with the router.

I have a towel at my side to wipe the sweat off my brow ... the doors are open, but there's no breeze. And the air conditioners are both upstairs.

Last night I let my air conditioner run all night in my bedroom. It's a portable, so the hose for condensation goes into a one-gallon bucket. When I got up this morning, the bucket was overflowing, soaking the carpet around the air conditioner. I soaked up the excess with towels, which are now in the washer, and let the natural heat of the day dry the carpet. Worked just fine. Wish I could say as much for my desktop.

In another hour it will be significantly cooler outside than in my upstairs bedroom, so I'll turn on the window fan to put some cooler (not cool, except in comparison to the 92 degrees held in the room), and later I'll turn on the air conditioner. First, though, I'll check the drainage bucket. I know there's already a half-inch of water from the hour I ran it early this evening.

The weather service says it will be 100 degrees again tomorrow. Some sources predict the heat will rise to 110 degrees.

It's not really so bad when I'm sitting in front of a computer (except for when the computer dies), but trying to compete in an IPSC match in a gravel-surfaced shooting bay with berms on 3 sides feels like I'm perched at the focal point of a parabolic mirror. Every erg of solar energy is pointing right at me, boring into my soul. It saps my energy and distracts me so I am unable to concentrate on tasks ... such as holding my sight picture on an 8" plate sitting 30 yards away. (Or a "metric" cardboard target's A-zone even when it's a lot closer.)

This kind of heat is said to be predominate for the rest of this week.

I remember being in Vietnam during the hot season of 1969. It was muggy, hot, and we were operating in the areas around Dian and Cu Chi, which were often fairly open. It was bad enough when we were operating as unattached infantry, working our way through areas which alternated between relatively open, and jungle. We sweated all the time, and there was rarely any breeze then, either. We had light field packs and were 'rapidly mobile' which means that we weren't carrying heavy packs with gear weighing 60 pounds or more. but we had to carry so much water and ammunition that it was often difficult to stand up with your gear on your back anyway.

Today, I don't have to carry any gear. In fact, I'm sitting in my dining room in short pants and nothing else. No load to carry, and my biggest worry is that I need to cake my PC to the shop tomorrow. And I'm complaining?

That's a luxury, and as I sit here dripping in sweat, it helps to remind myself how very EASY my life has become.

The sun is going down, and I still have electricity and lights. I can stay up as late as I want.

Back then, my most common fantasy was to sleep on a bare mattress on the floor, with fans blowing cool air over me from all directions. And there were no creepy crawly things sucking my blood as I slept. (You would be amazed at how prevalent leeches were when you slept on notionally dry ground. Especially in the Rubber Plantations, or rather what remained of them.)

Now, I don't have to stand a watch, I'm not in an 'ambush position', there aren't flares in the air or artillary going off in the middle of the night, I'm sleeping in a very comfortable bed.

And nobody is shooting at me.

Compared to that, I'm in Hog Heaven.

God Bless America.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wedding Party Boogey Down

Wedding Party Boogey Down (click on that to see the video)

Shared via AddThis

I'm as addicted to viral media as anyone, but this one takes me over the top.

What can be more joyful that people who dance at their own wedding?

Sorry about the short commercial before the actual video ... I couldn't fine a source without it.

But I did find this "recreation" of the event, in another venue.

Somehow, I doubt that this is an entirely 'amateur video' situation. Still, the fantasy is little short of charming.

Stick figures in peril

Stick figures in peril: bizarre and confusing warning signs from around the world - Telegraph
As much as I don't like the UK's "Daily Telegraph" (because of their sensationalist and cheezy content), sometimes it's just really hard to resist their sleezy sensationalism.

Here's a few examples of something that we all know and wonder about ... stick figures.


This "Stick Figure", for example, appears to warn the viewer against performing unnatural acts with dump trucks.

On the other hand, is the unnatural acts interpretation a matter of objective thinking, or does it say something about the viewer? I invite you to contribute your own interpretation, as long as it does now reflect negatively on the author ... that would be me, not you. I'm okay, you're subject to intense psychological examination. Right?

Right.


Here's another example, which seems to support the unnatural acts interpretation. I hope you can provide a more logical meaning. Sure, it's probably contrary to continuing a normal sex-life if you allow ... perhaps encourage ... an elephant to step on you private parts. But we should all be aware of those risks without the stick figure.

On the other hand, what about the trunk, eh?





This is another stick figure which illustrates ... what? TP in the commode is okay, but standing up while doing your personal business is not okay?

Or does it suggest that it's 'not okay' to do a double back-flip into the commode as a bizarre version of suicide?

I work on a University Campus, and I have to admit that some of the people who are compelled by immediate personal needs to visit the "Public Loo" just don't seem to understand the etiquette of using a public toilet. Perhaps this indicates that "Ranging Shots Are Not Okay" is a reasonable interpretation of this Stick Figure.

No, that's just too bizarre to write about on a Public Blog. Forget I said that, okay?

Thanks.

These are only three of the NINETEEN stick figures presented in the Telegraph Article. Please remember that I started out saying that the Telegraph website was weird and not my favorite website.

Also, I never said anything about unnatural acts here. If you think I did, it merely reflects your own personal perversity. Not mine.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dundee July 2009 (Stage 4): "Made in the Shade"

The Jungle Run is particularly difficult to film. At the July Dundee club match, I only got one small video clip, which faded out when the camera was unable to focus on the action.

It seems only fitting that this discontinuous video reflect the audio clip from Wolfman Jack's on-air dialogue with a 13-year-old listener.

Ten IPSC targets, 3 steel at the end, The Hobo Brasser runs in the jungle ... no YouTube version available here..
.
video

Dundee July 2009 (Stage 5): V2

The fifth stage of the July, 2009 DUNDEE club match provided lots of ways to err, but most of the competitors handled the shooting problem with a minimum of urps.

There were 4 IPSC "Classic" targets, overlayed with no-shoot "penalty targets", on either side of a stacked-barrel barrier. The stage was symmentrical, each side providing the Classic Target arrays, plus steel "Pepper" targets cunningly arrayed so that the competitor couldn't see a Popper until he/she downed the target in front of it.

Pepper Popper, US Popper. Pepper Popper, US Popper. That was the game plan, but many shooters took the larger "Pepper Poppers" first, to reveal the smaller (and usually farther away ... up to fifty feet) U.S. Poppers.

On this 24 round stage, I personally took the right side and then reloaded with another 17-round magazine, giving me a total of 18 rounds for the 8-round array. I ran out of ammo before I could take down the farthest US Popper and declined to reload to re-engage a small, far-away steel target which I had already shown myself unable to hit at that distance.

Others chose a different approach, and almost everyone beat me at that stage.

If I seem to belittle my squad-members in the accompanying video (available at YouTube here), that's misleading. If fact, most people on my squad performed much better than did I, and I was pleased to record their accomplishments on video.

Of course, I also recorded their faults. Perhaps it's that I have a mean streak, but more likely I wanted to depict the difficulties of this "Evil Bill" stage.

You can see this video on YouTube without the musical background here, but you can also view "the whole thing" (although you cannot download it) below.



video

Dundee July 2009 (6): Way Over There

In the last stage of the July Dundee match, I tried to get as many squad-members on video as I could. We were all fairly ready to go home (or to lunch at Abby's Pizza in Newburg ... Giant Linquica pizzas and beer, yum yum!)

The stage is an odd one: start in the Guard Shack, engage 3 IPSC targets with 3 shots each, knock down the 3 pepper poppers (one of which is 'forward-falling'), and clean the 5 plates on the Texas Star. The stage instructions read: "Start in the Guard Shack, do what you usually do." It assumes we know what that means ... and although there was some ribald humor occasioned by the stage procedures, we did, indeed, do what we usually did. What a great way to end a Summer Match!

I filmed The Hobo Brasser, Erik, and as a change up I even have a video of The Geek doing his Limited best on this 23-round stage with lotsa awkward steel (including a straight-up Texas Star). The video also includes relatively new shooter Mike S., the surprising John M, and the high-light of the squad, Jerry D.

The most interesting part of this match was Jerry D. He was shooting an 'old' STI (black finish, no frills, with a C-more) and he did it very well ... although none of us could remember ever seeing him at a match before.

I finally, on this last stage, asked Jerry why he shot so well when we didn't remember him.

"Well, I haven't shot IPSC since 1990" he replied.

Where was the last match he shot?

"Tri-County", he replied, citing a local club.

The story is, Jerry D. signed up with another local shooter, Rich B., whose membership number is 5*.

"But surely that's a Lifetime membership member, Jerry. What's YOUR membership number?"

He cited a middle 3-digit (5**) USPSA Membership number.

Wow, I thought. The Hobo Brasser and I consider ourselves 'old-timers' in USPSA because our membership numbers are mid-1*,*** but Jerry D is truly one of the Pioneers of USPSA.

"So tell, me, Jerry, why is Rich's lifetime membership so low, but you didn't take the lifetime membership option"

He said, "I thought it was a waste of money to pay for the lifetime membership. I just signed up for the annual membership. I didn't think it would last this long."

For those people who don't think that Practical Shooting is an addictive sport, I have to say ... it's hard to stay away.

This is a 3:25 minute video. There's a raw version of the video on You Tube, but if you want to see it with music, click on the embedded video below. (Match scores available here.)

video