Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Local Hero: Iain Harrison (Top Shot again)

Top Shot Winner Iain Harrison Reveals Hollywood Insider Secrets
Daily Bulletin


Once more from accurateshooter.com ...

Iain Harrison (2010 Top Shoot Champion) is quoted in an interview about the competition, and provides an "insider" viewpoint on the making of the Top Shot "survivor" series.

Iain is a Local Shooter, and I've enjoyed squadding with him from time to time ... even if I can't always spell his name correctly.

The man has a slightly manic sense of humor, and I enjoyed his interview. You may enjoy it, also.

See the detailed interview here.

DOT Plans New Ammo Shipping Regulations � Daily Bulletin

DOT Plans New Ammo Shipping Regulations � Daily Bulletin

Also from Accurateshooter.com ...

Remember shipping your ammunition to the host hotel at a 'far away' match? You always shipped it marked "ORM-D", right? That's how I always shipped it.

Because the U.S. is striving mightily under the Current Administration (aka "Obama-Mania") to synchronize all aspects of American practices to conform to European Practices. That is to say, International Specifications.

But the United Nations doesn't have an "ORM-D" designation for shipping ammunition without the need to add a "Hazardous Materials" (Haz-Mat) fee. So the plan is to assign a new designation -- "LQ" -- the same permissions as as "ORM-D", and begin shipping ammunition under that tag.

It seems simple enough; we just change the labeling on ammunition shipped in the United Sates from ORM-D to LQ, and continue with our lives with no other changes.

The only problem here is that we thus given up our ORM-D designation, and we have little or no control over any arbitrary redefinition of the "LQ" shipping label. If the United Nations decides, even unilaterally, to change the definition of that label, it is entirely possible that we may be obliged, under the terms of a "treaty" (look it up ... it has the power of law and is NOT subject to constitutional obligations under international law) to follow their definition of "LQ" labeling.

That means that American citizens, or citizens of any treaty nation, are legally obliged to follow the UN definition. We have no recourse. Neither the Executive, nor the Legislative, nor the Judicial branch of the American government may change the law to suit our individual national laws. We are obliged to conform to what has become an International Law.

Ship ammunition without paying a Hazardous Material fee? Not our choice, not any more, not ever again.

Do you remember how much the Hazardous Material fee is for, say, shipping Primers? You'll have to pay it. No use writing to your congressman then, because he has absolutely no choice but to comply.

Curiously, in the United States of America, lone primers are subject to the hazmat fee; loaded ammunition is not. Do you want to see that changed?

Neither do I. You might want to talk to your congressman about that today; tomorrow may be too late.

Just saying .....

Nil Carborundum Illigitimi



















Providence program destroys children’s toy guns - The Boston Globe: "’Tis the season for joy, peace, and grinding up plastic, orange-tipped AK-47s.

For seven years, Providence municipal and law enforcement officials have organized the event around Christmastime as a way to raise awareness of the dangers of playing with guns, real or fake. The event is a mix of the macabre and the playful, a children’s version of the gun buyback program in which adults trade firearms for gift certificates.

Yesterday, younger children ran through a rubber obstacle course while officials told the older children the story of a 14-year-old boy who police nearly shot after they confused his air pistol with a real gun.

In exchange for their toy guns, all the children received wrapped presents that were indisputably not violent — dolls, stuffed animals, and board games like checkers."


This entire store is based on a single, if complex, premise: "Guns Are Bad!"

Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College, said police and parents coming together to destroy toy guns sends a powerful message to children.

But adults should follow up with children to explain the complexities of weapons and violence so they can more efficiently counter the seductive image of guns in movies and video games.

“It’s one piece of what needs to happen around this issue,’’ said Levin, coauthor of “The War Play Dilemma.’’ “There is also this side of [children] trying to understand why are there guns there, and why do people use them? When kids are getting all kinds of other messages about guns, it’s a more complicated issue than just having one day about how guns are bad.’’ [emphasis added by editor]

Even though the author (and the interviewed participants) take the long way around the barn to present their thesis, it still ends up with the same unsupported and unsupportable premise: "Guns Are Bad!".

Interestingly, if the article is true to the message and rationale of the 'project', there is no clear explanation of WHY "Guns Are Bad!" In fact, we don't here have even so much as a clue as to HOW "Guns Are Bad!"

It's difficult to determine whether the article was edited for length by a copy-editor who just didn't have the space to include the explanation, or whether the reporter failed to record it, or even if the sponsors of the project failed to explain it. All we know is that "Guns Are Bad!", and apparently we either (a) know intuitively that "Guns Are Bad!", or (b) we are easily swayed by the argument that if these people put so much effort into taking toy guns off the mean streets of Providence, R.I., they must be right if only because they are so darn sincere!

"Gun Buy-Back" schemes are nothing new. For years, these schemes have been the premier way for gang members to dispose of their 9's after using them in a drive-by. They don't even have to file off the serial numbers ... the local police are happy to chop up the guns if only to get them off the streets.

But these are not real guns; they're toys. They are not lethal weapons, they are only icons.

Maybe that's the Liberal Message .. which is to say, the Message is the Massage, a la Marshall Mcluhan. These ... people ... are feeding their children a message which will shape their perceptions for the rest of their young lives.

It's all propaganda, it's a Skinnerism ... behavior modification by learned response to stimulus. When these children achieve adulthood, they will remember only that "Guns Are Bad!"; they won't think about why or how they are bad, only that their mommies told them so, and they won't have to think for themselves.

These nice people who took away their toys are powerful authority figures, and the children, in adulthood, will have been programmed to a very specific thought pattern.

Except, perhaps, for one little boy, named Malik, who had his own ideas:

Some children were not thrilled with the trade.

Malik Hall, a round-eyed second-grader, looked apprehensive as he stood in line with his favorite toy, a thick, blue gun with plastic sword underneath the muzzle. The 8-year-old was furious when his mother, Amanda, told him he would have to give it up. Yesterday morning, he tried to hide it under his pillow, she said.

“I’m worried,’’ she said. “He might cry.’’

But when it was his turn, Malik strode dry-eyed and with quiet dignity to the Bash-O-Matic and fed it the gun. When his mother approached, he said nothing.

“You don’t want to talk to me?’’ Hall asked. He looked at her stonily and left to retrieve his gift.


Way to go, Malik. Nil Carborundum Illigitimi.


PS: oh, by the way. Looking at the photograph which accompanied the article ... a small boy feeding his plastic gun into the "Bash-O-Matic", I wondered how a concerned parent could all their child to push a plastic toy into a mangle. Perhaps they are so concerned about the possible influence of The Evil Gun, they pay no attention to the possiblilty of a child losing a finger ... or a hand ... to the evils of the "Bash-O-Matic".

In the timeless words of Bugs Bunny: "What a bunch of Maroons!"


Revolver KaBOOM!



How to Shear Your Scandium .44 Mag Revolver in Half � Daily Bulletin

I discovered today (via a link from The Michael Bane Blog) a website named "AccurateShooter.com"

Never mind the direct link, I found on the sidebar some excellent mini-articles submitted by members. One of these discussed the use of ultra-light revolvers, which are created with an alloy of Scandium and Aluminum, and at least in the case of the S&W 329 are chambered in the very powerful .44 Magnum Pistol cartridge.

I've fired a Model 29, which was constructed of all steel. It was very heavy, and the perceived recoil was, too me, excessive. But then, I'm a wuss.

No need for much commentary from me. The result was that the revolver was shredded like yesterday's newspaper on a rainy Pacific North-Wet day, and nobody seems to know exactly why factory ammunition should have caused that KaBOOM! ... which must have been very impressive to the owner (who apparently decided he had no further need for a .44 Magnum Scandium revolver).

There are links in the article which will lead the curious reader to more information.

For years I have maintained that three of the primary uses for a Revolver are:
  1. a doorstop
  2. a bud vase
  3. a paperweight
This particular revolver seems to currently be unusable as a bud vase. Its ability to hold liquids have been ... compromised.

Go, read the whole thing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It's 11:20pm on Christmas Eve.

You have only 40 shopping minutes until Christmas.

If you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet ... welcome to the Hair-Shirt Club for Men!

Merry Christmas from Geekistan

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Smallest Minority: Well, We've Flipped James Kelly's Rock Over . . .

The Smallest Minority: Well, We've Flipped James Kelly's Rock Over . . .


Kevin Baker at "The Smallest Minority" has posted (on Monday, December 20, 2010) another brilliant ├╝berpost on the Second Amendment.

Posited as a definitive statement of the superiority of "facts" vs "studies", Kevin lends credence to his ongoing battle against those who assume that by citing the opinions of people who agree with them, they can prove the basic fallacy of the Second Amendment.

That fallacy is, of course, "Fewer Guns, Less Crime". Anyone who has ever been mugged recognizes this fallacy intuitively; people who have been arrested, of course, tend to argue vociferously in its favor.

One of the most telling collections of historical fact is found near the end of Kevin's article, where he links in the phrase: "Arms in the hands of Jews are a danger to public safety." This is an article by Stephen Holbrook (Second Amendment & Guns Rights attorney; filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court re: MACDONALD; see here, and here [1999 Emerson case?; name spelled alternately "Halbook"], and here, et al) . It's worth reading that singular document, of course, but I encourage you to read the entire original blog article (see the link at the top of the page).

It is because of the determined research behind EVERY article Kevin writes that I encourage you to "read the whole thing", of course.

And this is also the reason why nearly every time I link to Kevin's writing (even though I too-often refer to him as "Kevin Bacon" ... not true!) I usually include the admonishment:

"Kevin is a much better writer than, I am; if you must choose between reading "The Smallest Minority" or "Cogito Ergo Geek", I strongly encourage you to read Kevin's offerings."

My work is infrequently offered, minor key, and desultory. Kevin is consistent, better researched, and much more readable ... although we both tend to over-write.

On the other hand, I'm grateful to Kevin because he not only writes articles which I delight in reading, but he makes important points in a much more convincing manner.

Besides that, he says the things I wish I had said, in a style which I wish I could at least emulate; and he saves me a lot of time, because I don't have to invest as much effort and research to present it.

Thanks again, Kevin.


---

INCIDENTALLY ...
.. if you liked the above, but wonder about the philosophical basis for Kevin's position statement, then I draw your attention to his (Saturday, December 18, 2010) ├╝berpost "This I Believe". As usual, I stand in awe in joining you by wishing I had said that.

There may be minor doctrinal issues with which you may take exception. If so, I wish you would say so in the COMMENTS section (or better, in Kevin's COMMENTS section ... although he, like me, suffers from the slings and arrows of outrageous ECHO commenting software so it may be lost forever). However, in my first reading I find little or nothing to contest.

Although, of course, I would probably not have said it half so well.

Consider this a juicy dessert following a meaty main course.

All we need now is a dessert wine. On the other hand, I have always found them to be too sweet, so perhaps that may not be to your taste either.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Singing Soprano

During the past couple of weeks, I'm been spending a lot of time at home, rather than at work.

I spent a bunch of bucks at the used books store (nothing new here) on Books and DVDS.

One of the series of DVDs I have purchased lately was the HBO "Sopranos" series. I bought the Season One collection last week, because it was new to me. I don't have my television connected to Cable, only to DVD/VHS players. So I have never seen any of the series, but I have heard a lot about it via the Internet. Out of curiosity, I bought Season One of "The Sopranos" and I was surprised at the production values, and the quality of the scripts ... not to mention the quality of the acting.

Yes, much of the script and the dialogue was uncomfortable to me. The dialogue reminded me of my tenure in the US Army, where the "F-Word" served as both a verb, a noun, an adjective and an adverb. (In rare, but notable instances, it even served as a gerund ... please do not ask me for examples; we were soldiers then, and young.)

The HBO series purported to depict the lifestyle of a "Mafia Family" in New Jersey. I know nothing about either the Mafia, or New Jersey (except that N.J. is the only state, other than Oregon, which requires that the customer cannot pump his own gasoline at service stations ... and to my mind, that is a boon not granted by other states), but the episodes are a fascinating introspection of a family distraught by both a dysfunctional culture and situational madness in the individual

Still, the scripts ... by a variety of writers and not of consistent quality ... are generally better than I had expected.

And the actors are generally so accomplished that they can take a mediocre script and make it look good.

Bottom line: however much I admired the performances of almost ALL of the actors, the best performances are provided not by the star, James Gandolfini, but by one of the side-characters; Lorraine Bracco ... who played the Psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi.

Brooklyn:


Certainly, Bracco is versatile actor, who plays here a Psychiatrist and yet in a current Television Series (Rizzolli and Isles) she portrays a dysfunctional and overweight mother of one of the main characters. But she may be typical of the versatile actors who are able to lend personality and verisimilitude to almost any role. I admit that I have had a crush on Bracco ever since her 1988 role as the character "Brooklyn" (Dr. Rae Crane) against Sean Connery in "Medicine Man".


It's a rare event when a co-star can steal scenes from Connery, but Bracco managed to do it, time and again, against a background of a ho-hum script.

I think Connery must have been just a little bit in love with Bracco, to permit her such liberties And I admit that I have been too, since I first saw her in that role. (However, I have also been a little bit in love with Bracco in that move. SWMBO knew it but she never resented it.
After all, I am also in love with Linda Hunt. But who can object to an appreciation of a woman who won an academy award for her portrayal of a man?

Okay, so I like Linda Hunt because her character was a man in "A Year of Living Dangerously", and Lorraine Bracco for her character as a purported professional dingbat in "Medicine Man" ... but her character in "Sopranos" was brilliant, seminal, and central to the underlying theme of the series.

In fact, her character of "Doctor Melfi" was at least as central as Gandelfini's was as "Anthony Soprano".

I realize that I'm "running long" here. The point is that there are brilliant moments of both acting and screenwriting in the series. I'm surprised at how much I am enjoying the series. I've bought Season 1, 2, 5 and 6. The used bookstore had season 4, but it was too badly damaged by the previous owner ... so I'll be searching Amazon dot com for seasons 4 and 3. The cost is about $16 each, and considering that I have two nights of enjoyment for each season, the expense is easily worth the price.

No Arms Gunslinger - Loads With His Feet!

Just when I was feeling low-down because of my problems, I receive via email this stirring testimonial about the courage and audacity of people who daily deal with problems which make mine see much less discouraging by comparison.

Here's an amazing video of a man who has no arms, but loads, manages and shoots a 1911 with his feet.

H/T to G-man for this video. Dialogue during the video suggests that it "will be on YOUTUBE tomorrow", but I couldn't find it (although I did find a plethora of videos about people who accomplished seemingly impossible tasks without arms).

I have no background for this story at all. Perhaps you can find more information about it than I can, and if you do I hope you will include links on the comments.

This man is more accomplished with his feet than I am with hands. Well, those of you who have seen me shoot can attest to that.

Just when I was feeling low-down because of my problems, I receive via email this stirring testimonial about the courage and audacity of people who daily deal with problems which make mine see much less discouraging by comparison.
video

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas in Geekistan

My son has invited me to spend Christmas with his family in San Diego.

I am, of course, thrilled by the prospect. Not only would I be able to spend time with my son and his family, but my daughter and HER family live in the same town: San Diego.

I love San Diego, and if it was not located in Southern California it would not be the same, nor would I love it so.

That it is the home of both my Son and my Daughter, and their respective families, is obviously a bonus to me. Their spouses are both Good People, and their children (my grandchildren) are a joy. All seven of them!

But you know what? I think it's too soon after my loss of Sandie. I feel like a wimp to say so, but I feel like a wimp to enjoy the love of my family so soon. Yes, I realize that is counter-intuitive.

So I'm not sure what I'm going to do during Christmas. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure I would rather just bag the entire "Ho Ho Ho!" season. On the other hand, I realize I need to reconnect with my family, if only to get me out of this truly grungy mood.

On the third hand, I have neither the strength nor the energy to endure the event. I would much rather spend my time alone in my home reading books and watching reruns of television shows. What I mean to say is: I would REALLY rather do 'nothing'.

There was probably a point to be made here, but I'm not sure what it might have been.

PS: I have decided to go back to work tomorrow. I don't want to, but somehow I have managed to become entirely bored by spending weeks at a time at home, with absolutely nothing to do.

---

Hey, I think I have just made a decision based on the relative values of "time at home doing nothing" versus "time in San Diego with my family".

Haven't I?

Bummer, Dude. Flying is SO counter-intuitive!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bankers are Crooks

I recently received the following notice in a personal email, sent to me from the bank which holds both my checking and savings account:

Good afternoon Jerry, First I wanted to thank you for banking with US Bank and noticed upon review of your accounts that your checking account is currently unprotected.

I wanted to take this time to let you know that you are pre-qualified for what is called a Reserve Line of credit with us. that is a line of credit that attatches to your checking account so in the event that if by some chance the checking accoutn were to go overdrawn it would take the money from your line of credit and transfer it to your checking so that you dont get any overdraft chatges or possiblly have any items returned.

It does not cost you anything to have this protection it just sits there if you dont [sic] use it. If in the line of credit does advance it will transfer money in $50.00 increments and there is a $10.00 transfer fee which is much less then the cost of one overdraft fee. I see no reason why everyone who qualifies for this product should not have one just for peace of mind of knowing its there if there ever was a mistake.

Please let me know if you are interested in moving forward with this, as your pre-qualification will not last forever, it will expire on 12/13/10.

Thank You

Shauntelle

First, overdraft fees were $17, last time I had to pay one. This was charged every day, until the overdraft was relieved.

However, this new plan would not charge an overdraft fee; instead, it would take $50 from my "Line of Credit", and charge me a $10 fee for doing so.

But they do not say that they will be only one $10 fee; I assume they mean to charge me $10 for EACH $50 transfer from my savings.

So if I write a check for $1000 for my rent, and I have no money left in my account, they will deduct $1000 from my savings account, and charge me a $10 fee for each of the $50 increments needed to make up this payment .. which is 20 $50 increments ... for a total of $200.

Further, there is nothing to suggest that this $1,000 plus $200 would be the end of the 'fees'. It is possible, but not addressed in the announcement, that this "line of credit" plus fee would not be imposed every business day until I have replaced the $1,000 in my savings account.

No, that is not explicitly cited in the email I received. On the other hand, there is nothing mentioned in the email to suggest that this would NOT happen. Even though the prospect seems outrageous, the email does nothing to relieve our minds about it; if they do not specifically say they will NOT charge recurring fees every day until an (undefined) condition is not met, who is to say that the bank will not require this sort of outrageous funds-renewal?

Nothing. They can do anythiung they want, because it is a "Fee", not "Interest".

Recent changes in Federal banking laws have (supposedly) tightened up on the interest that banks can charge depositors. But you know as well as I do that banks ... and businesses .. will refuse to eat money-making schemes which are newly outlawed by Federal regulations.

Congress, and the Senate, will do whatever it takes to make it appear as if they have the best interests of the Common Citizen as their primary interest. In truth, they just want to look good so they can get reelected.

Business will also make a similar attempt to appear as if they have their customers' best interest at heart. In truth, they just want to make a profit and keep their customers while doing so. If Federal regulations tighten up on their profit margin in one area, they will merely adjust their business practices to make more money in another area.

And this is what's happening in America today: Government is attempting to impose controls on private business; private business is responding by finding new ways to maximize their profits. It's up to the individual customer to look out for themselves, and be aware of all the ways that "legitimate business" may find to screw them.

It is left as an exercise to the student to compare and contrast Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Here's a hint: in Communism, the individual has little choice of where to live and how to earn money but the Government will determine the distribution of resources; in Socialism, the individual can do what he wishes, where he wishes, but the Government will determine the distribution of resources; in Captialism, you can live where you want and work in any industry you want, as long as you can find and hold a job.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

New USPSA look "On Line"

In the last issue of "The Front Sight Magazine" ( the house vehicle for USPSA), Executive Officer Dave notes that the website has a new look.

New is the correct word. There are several new features, not the least of which includes to ability to enter as a personal logon, and no more "member area".

I've only just ventured into the 'invent your logon' concept. In fact, I've tried to create a logon ID ... but I have so many logons and "helpful" software installed, I can see my logon but I have no idea what my password may be. And there is no indication of how to get help from USPSA.

They will certainly get past these petty problem, and with Rob B. spearheading the effort (along with others such as the now-skinny Bruce G.) I'm confident that USPSA will be able to find and defuse all the annoying little characteristics of a new website design.

Either that, or I haven't paid enough attention to the details, and that's always the first place to go when I'm trying to accustom myself to a new webpage design.

Still, even though I'm kinda cranky and very old, I'm betting that USPSA's new webpage design will prove to be a great improvement over the old "frame" design.

My best advice is for you to go there and see how it works for you. And if / when you find the obvioius helpful hints that I miss, I do hope you will pass them on to this easily confused self-named Geek.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Brotherhood

I have received so many, many words of sympathy here. It is impossible to thank you all personally for the comfort you offer, although I would want to do so. And those of you who live in this area, I will hopefully be able to tell you personally how much your loving concern has meant to me ... not only this week, but during the two and a half grueling years when you were almost all the support I had.

No, that's not fair, entirely. My family and Sandie's family (who are now my family, too) have been as helpful as anyone fighting such a desperate, but ultimately hopeless battle, could ever expect.

It's amazing to me that not only our family and close personal friends should rally at this wretched hour, but also people who I not only don't know personally, and also many whose names I have never known before. People who have never known me or Sandie except remotely through the wretched internet.

Oh, I know I'm saying all of this badly. I'm still a mess, though I will be better ... later. Soon, but later. So forgive me if I am even less erudite than usual. You know all of this is too overwhelming and I am too weak to stand it by myself, so please accept this as my own personal version of the MacDonald Clan's "Group Hug" ( which, given their years of support, I suppose I will someday be forced to endure finally; because you know, I owe you all but I can only directly repay a few).

Yes, that was a run-on sentence. So sue me.

Still, in all of this horrid, horrible darkness, I would like to single out one special comment, and this from a total stranger. Please bear with me, I'll run out of tissues soon and I can get back to Having A Life.

This is a note I found on my comments page, from an exceedingly kind man who knows exactly where I am because he is ... maybe ... just emerging from that dark place:

Jerry,

We have never met, but I have read your blog for some time. I have enjoyed your humor and wit. Most of all I have enjoyed your videos and have watched them perhaps hoping to gain some insight to help my pathetic shooting. About three years ago my wife developed ALS and I lost her about 6 months ago. I hope you might find it comforting to know that reading about Sandie and her illness and bravery in the face of that illness, as well as your love and caring for her, helped give me the strength to be the caregiver for my wife. I heard the expression "sorry for your loss" so much that it almost became trite. But at this time I don't know what else to say except that I am, truely, sorry for your loss.
This is a man who knows exactly what I and my extended family are going through. He had the compassion to understand, the courage to speak beyond his own grief, and the humanity to so perfectly express himself that we can only imagine, if not understand completely, the soul-depth of his recent loss.

I'm not there; I'm not man enough, or human enough, to drag myself out of the pit of dispair. Not quite yet.

But this kind man has given me such a huge boost, I know I will never be able to thank him sufficiently.

I am awed, to realize that there are such people in this world. Perhaps there is hope for us, after all.

Now I think there may be hope for me, and a tomorrow that I can anticipate in hopes that there are good things to be found there, beyond merely praying for an end to the hurt and the loss

This will be the very last time I will weep in public. I promise. You have all been very patient with me, but now I've had an example -- a standard of courage -- which I cam only try to emulate. It's something worth trying for. Besides, if I couldn't pull myself together, Sandie wouldn't like it.

Thank you all. From me, and from Sandie.

..

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sandie Memorial

I talked to Sandie's Sister today ... the one who shares Power of Attorney with me, as we work to resolve all of the mundane issues related to Sandies estate, will, and wishes.

Sandie has told her sister that there will be no funeral, no memorial service, no "Remembrance Ceremony" or "Celebration of Life".

I'm not certain that this is the best possible decision, but it is not mine to make.

Those who remain behind -- friends and relatives of the deceased -- have been assured that funerals are for the friends and family, so they can find "closure". And perhaps it also serves the purpose of allowing people to eulogize a loved one, but that's just a guess.

Nobody knows what Sandie was thinking when she made this decision, but I have an idea about that.

Last Christmas ... December 26, 2009, I attended a memorial service for Sherry Orpwood, a friend and a member of the local IPSC community. Sherrie had been fighting cancer for a year, with various ups and down, and finally lost her long fight. Sherrie had been very helpful when Sandie was first diagnosed with Cancer, and gave Sandie suggestions on how to deal with the various road-bumps of chemotherapy (which we later discovered can not be made any easier ... it's all bad.)

When I went to the service, I discovered that it was all too immediate, and too personal for me to handle. Her husband (Loren, whose name I suspect I consistently manage to misspell) was working to handle his emotions but it was all too raw for him.

As the service continued, I found myself becoming increasingly emotional. At the end of the service, I bolted out of the church, into my car, and spent ten minutes in a supermarket parking lot just trying to find an emotional level which would allow me to drive safely.

When I got back home, I told Sandie how traumatic I found the service. She said nothing at the time, but I suspect this is part of the reason why she decided against a public ceremony. She is still trying to protect "other people", regardless of the cost to herself.

She has always been the most unselfish person I have ever known.

---

In the aftermath of my attempt find and notify every person whose life has impinged upon Sandie's life (and she, upon theirs), I have been comforted by the outpouring of dozens upon dozens of letters of regret from those who not only knew her personally, but who knew OF her. She has been the subject of prayers for the past 29 months, and I know that they have helped both her and me.

One of my best memories of Sandie may have been the time a couple of years ago, at an IPSC match at Albany Rifle and Pistol Club, when Sandie was RO'ing a stage at a club match.

Most of us were chatting with each other inside the covered bay when Sandie realized that nobody was "working the stage" after the shooter completed his run.

Her response was to face the squad and shout: "Hey, you guys! Get off your ass and get out here and tape these targets!"

Just in case anyone wonders why I called her "She Who Must Be Obeyed".

Not just everybody gets to be a Legend.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sandie

I'm sorry that I have to use a stinking blog to say this.

Sandie Fae Smith died this morning about 6am. She was at home, her sister was there helping to take care of her.

Her passing was not unexpected, but I honestly thought ... well, not this soon.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer on July 7, 2008. Her doctor only gave her six months to live. She visited her doctor last July, just to throw it in his face that she stretched that six months into two years, and she wasn't quitting yet.

I do not want anyone to think that she went gently into that good night. She went kicking and screaming all the way, though perhaps in the last couple of weeks not quite so loudly. The spirit and the flesh, you know how it goes.

She made so many friends while we were going to pistol matches, and this is the only way I know that I can reach most of them. It's undignified, I know, but this is part of where the legend of SWMBO was born, so perhaps it's fitting, after all, that this is where it ends.

For those of our friends who live nearby, I'll publish here the details of funeral arrangements whenever they are made.

But to tell you the truth, I don't know how I'm going to get through it. Or through this day, for that matter. I'm a mess now, I'll be a mess then. Somehow, though, I'll be there to say my final goodbye to the finest person I have ever been privileged to love, and whose love I never deserved.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

Yesterday, SWMBO and I spent a quiet day together at her home.

Her oldest sister (of four), Vivian, was in town, visiting the second-oldest sister, Bonnie. Vivian had visited SWMBO on Wednesday, and knowing that I like her sisters we intended to invite her to visit again on Turkey Day.

Unfortunately, SWMBO had a very uncomfortable Thanksgiving Day, and so we decided not to invite visitors. In fact, when SWMBO's son called, I asked him to keep the conversation short. She doesn't have much strength left, and would prefer that her friends and family not learn first-hand how debilitated she is this week.

It made me think about those things for which I am grateful.

Last year at this time, SWMBO was in the hospital because the chemotherapy which she was then enduring was hurting her more than helping here. The same situation occurred at Christmas, when she finally decided that she would never again suffer through another round of chemotherapy. She would rather allow the tumor to run its course, and take whatever good days were available to her.

She had originally been diagnosed as having only six months to live. It has been an incredible 29 months so far, and we have been blessed with with all of this time for our love to mature beyond our expectations.

We have an entire coffee table full of medications which have been prescribed, and then left behind when they ceased to be effective in making her more comfortable. FED-EX comes by weekly with new prescriptions ... few are refills, most are new, and she takes pills for nausea, anxiety, pain (ALWAYS with pain) and a variety of maladies which are usually a side-effect of the other medication. She and her many caretakers work together to insure that the medications are taken on schedule. Sometimes the medications must be taken in the middle of the night, which means that a caretaker must always be with her -- not only to insure that the medications are taken, but also to give her such comfort as she needs from moment to moment.

Still, once in a while the old Sandie comes out. Her sense of humor abides, her keen attention to detail insures that we fallible family members will not give her the wrong medication at the wrong time, and she is ever willing to reassure us of her love.

I'm going to stop focusing on Sandie so much, because we are aware that her friends and loved ones are often distraught when I write about her suffering.

Instead, please accept that she is in charge of her own personal care. We .. friends, family, and the Benton County Hospice Center ... understand that she is still the boss, and we give her what she decides she needs. It's not always easy for her, given the powerful medications she takes several times a day. Still, SHE prevails.

And her friends and family are still there for her, even given that she needs personal attention 24 hours a day, every day.

As for me, I treasure every moment I am privileged to be with her. She is more focused on her care than she would prefer, I know, but under the most difficult circumstances one can imagine, she remains ...

She! Who Must Be Obeyed

I thank God that I am privileged to be a part of such a magnificent personality

Monday, November 22, 2010

SWMBO

Sandie is in a bad way.

She's not strong physically, but she's as strong and as brave as she can be.

Her family is helping me take care of here. I still have to work, so they take care of her during the day and I'm there at nights. Her youngest sister has been spending weekends with her, so I have some time 'off' then. And I appreciate it. I need some time "away", if only so I can regain my strength for the next day.

Sandie doesn't get any days off.

She can't walk unaided. She always feels crappy. The best thing she knows is, however bad she feels, it's the best day of the week.

It's not fair, but it is ... what it is. That's all any of us has, but it's not fair.

She's too good a person, and she doesn't deserve this.

I'll try to keep our friends informed, but I've already re-written this because you don't need to know all the details.

It's just bad. I wish I could be more positive.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Congressman and The Colonel

FoxBusiness.com - Why Tuesday Will Be a Blowout

How does 24 years of Military service NOT qualify as having " ... performed any kind of public service"? David Asman takes Congressman Jim Moran (D - Virginia 8th District) to task when the Congressman slams his Veteran soldier opponent.

Just Words?

Many years ago (around 1978 - 1980) I volunteered to spend two evenings a week as a Teacher's Assistant in an "English as a Second Language" course offered by Portland Community College (in Oregon).

This is a program designed to help Immigrants qualify for the English Proficiency requirement of the American Citizenship program, and also to make it easier for them to find jobs and merge into the American culture.

I did this for two years.

The first year I worked two hours in a classroom, being in fact the only instructor for a group of about twenty students. Over the six month course, I got to know them very well. Most were a group of relatives from Bali. A few were Muslims from the Middle East. All were adults (the eldest was in her 6o's) and every member of that class was willing to work as hard as possible to learn not only 'proper' English, but also Idiomatic English. That is, to feel comfortable with phrases such as "I crossed over the bridge". Think about the many ways words like "cross" and "check" are used in American English, and you will appreciate their ambition and determination.

The second year I worked outside the classroom as a tutor for a young Vietnamese man who was the only member of his family to survive the boat trip from Vietnam. Various tragedies between 1973 and 1976 had taken his parents and siblings from him during the escape and the flight from Communist Vietnam, and he had also spent over a year in various refugee camps before being sponsored to America.

I was able to share many new experiences with this young man (who insisted upon being called "Larry"), among which was a trip to Mount Hood on the day after Thanksgiving Day in 1979, where both Larry and my 18-month-old daughter Jennifer encountered snow for the first time. Larry was ecstatic. He said he had heard of snow, but had no idea how it would feel to be completely surrounded by frozen water as far as he could see. My daughter, on the other hand, reserved judgment. Jennifer now lives in San Diego, so I guess she was less impressed than was Larry.

My work with Larry was ostensibly to help him break bad speech habits, and teach him proper pronunciation of difficult words.

His worst habit, after working one summer in a microchip assembly plant, was to use the expressing "you know" at least once in every sentence. He didn't realize that he did that, until my wife and I both pointed it out to him. Frequently, until he became as annoyed at our reminders as we were by the phrase. But he gave it up, almost entirely.

One of the most difficult pronunciation efforts was the word "Hospital". The closest he could come was "Horspishtull". It was when he tried to explain the difference between English and Vietnamese that I began to learn more from Larry, than he learned from me.

Vietnamese, like many Eastern Asian languages, is based on tone. That's why spoken Vietnamese sounds like "Sing song". He gave me an example, saying the same word a half-dozen times. They all sounded the same to me, but he explained that depending on intonation the word can have any of several different meanings, such as "ghost" and "spirit" ... which when you think of it, can be interpreted variously in English as well.

But even more edifying was the day when we sat at my kitchen table and he explained to me what it was like living in Vietnam before, and after, the Communist take-over.

He said the pre-communist government was prone to promising much, but delivering little. In his words: "The president promised us one thousand things, but only one of them came true."

And as for the communists?

"Pay no attention to what they say; but pay careful attention to what they do."

I may have remembered minor details incorrectly ... it has been 30 years since I've seen or talked to Larry. But I'm clear in my memory that in 1970's Vietnam these were supposedly the most common sayings in his country, and were considered Universal Truths.

Perhaps these sayings (aphorisms, homilies , etc.) should be more widely familiar to Americans in the 2010's.

Remember these words when you vote today. And remember how the incumbents got elected.

"Just words?"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween, Predators!




Hat Tip: The Smallest Minority and Walyou dot com!

Shooter Is Also Soldier - Of the Year


Shooter Is Also Soldier - Of the Year | Shooting Wire

The 2010 U.S. Army "Soldier of the Year" ... Sgt. Sherri Gallagher

Staff Sgt. Adam Sahlberg

DVIDS - Video - Staff Sgt. Adam Sahlberg

This is a video interview by the "Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (dvids) of a Son of the Pacific North West.

SSGT. Adam is the son of Bill Sahlberg, who is well known in the PNW. Adam, his father and brother have all been competitors in USPSA matches in Washington and Oregon. All of us here in Geekistan are very proud of Sgt. Adam's service, and grateful for his contribution.

SAF Sues Holder, FBI Over Gun Rights Denial

Shooting Wire: "BELLEVUE, WA -

Acting on behalf of a Georgia resident and honorably discharged Vietnam War veteran, the Second Amendment Foundation today filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over enforcement of a federal statute that can deny gun rights to someone with a simple misdemeanor conviction on his record.

---

In July 1968, Schrader, then 21, was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery relating to a fight involving a man who had previously assaulted him in Annapolis, MD. The altercation was observed by a police officer, who arrested Schrader, then an enlisted man in the Navy, stationed in Annapolis. The man he fought with was in a street gang that had attacked him for entering their 'territory,' according to the complaint."

This guy can't legally own a gun in the state of Maryland because of a bar fight 40 years ago.

The man must be some kind of "Rambo".

(Note: this is based upon information available on October 15, 2010)

HP Printer Support in Iraq

No comment ... the video says it all.


video

H/T "Digger Fulkerson"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sharron Angle sends Joy Behar flowers

Sharron Angle sends Joy Behar flowers: Scott Wong - POLITICO.COM:

"Sharron Angle said it with flowers.

The Nevada GOP Senate nominee sent a floral arrangement to “The View” co-host Joy Behar on Wednesday, one day after Behar called Angle a “bitch,” and a “moron,” and said she’s “going to hell.”"


Of course, Behar (Mighty Mouth of "The View", not that anyone watches that except excerpts on the Internet) didn't get the joke.

American Groupspeak

American Groupspeak - Victor Davis Hanson - Townhall Conservative:

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson has nailed it: You can talk about anything you want in public, but if you don't couch it in "politically correct" context you'll be accused of being mean, hurtful, cruel, racist ... in short, a Conservative!

So maybe it's better to just keep your mouth SHUT!?
"Here are some reminders about what to shut up about.

Don't discuss the deficit. Instead, call borrowing 'stimulus.' Trillions are not much different from billions. Debt can be paid back with more borrowing and someone else's higher taxes. Ignore the lessons of Greece and California. To appear noble, call for more unemployment benefits, free medical care and more entitlements. To sound cruel, talk about borrowing to pay for them."


Oh, and don't forget to read the comments. Especially run the 4:51 minute "Runaway Slave" trailer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joe Biden blurts out that he will be Barack Obama's 2012 running mate – Telegraph Blogs

Joe Biden blurts out that he will be Barack Obama's 2012 running mate – Telegraph Blogs:

"Joe Biden just can’t keep his mouth shut. OK, I know that’s not exactly breaking news. But at a time when Democrats are supposed to be focussed on the November 2nd mid-terms and Barack Obama has not even announced he will seek a second term, did Biden really need to declare that he’ll be on the 2012 ticket?

Here he is shooting from the lip to the New York Times:

“I tell you what, there’s real trust, that’s why he’s asked me to run again,” Mr. Biden said Monday, dropping this tidbit at the end of a 40-minute conversation, just before he dashed off to his third fund-raiser of the day. “Look, he said, ‘We’re going to run together, are you going to run?’ I said, ‘Of course, you want me to run with you, I’m happy to run with you.’ ”"

Simpering Joe is just a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States of America.

Let us all pray for the continuing good health of B.H. Obama's heart.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Their grandparents wanted to rule the world!

"The acrid immigration debate sparked this summer by former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin has apparently had an effect on the German public. A poll released on Wednesday showed that one-tenth want a “Fuhrer,” while one-quarter admitted to strong xenophobic attitudes – up from one-fifth in 2008"


It surprises me, ... does it surprise you? ... that a significant percentage of German people have responded to a poll supporting the rise of a "Fuhrer" to lead the nation. This is obviously similar to the feelings of 1930's Germany, which encouraged the elevation of Adolph Hitler to the role of Chancellor, and later "Fuhrer", of the country.

The poll numbers are probably in response to the rising percentage of Islamic German Citizens, the political influence of which natural born Germans are increasingly opposed.

If this catches you unprepared to accept, especially when compared to the 1937-1945 Nazification of the country (which has been so determinedly renounced by Germans during the past 65 years), then perhaps it would be illuminating to consider the current attitudes of endemic Germans regarding the possession of firearms:

In the light of "shooting rampage[s] with ... legally owned sporting weapon[s]", German citizens are asking each other WHY they [the average German citizen] should be 'allowed' to possess firearms:

"The Badische Zeitung, based in Freiburg some 80-kilometres from Larrach, expressed the region’s sense of shock and helplessness in the face of such incidents.

“Along with the speculation that comes after the fact there's another question which we can’t spare the countless weapons lovers living in peace,” the paper said. [Emphasis added by the editor: is it surprising that "weapons lovers" might "live in peace"? Perhaps they know something that undefended people do not know.] “When there is a firearm at hand, is there not a threat that difficult psychological conflicts will escalate faster than without them? To this day the weapons lobby still hasn’t been able to convince us that the two have nothing to do with the other.”

Baden-Wirttemburg's capital daily, the Stuttgarter Zeitung, warned against knee-jerk weapons law reforms, but said Sunday’s shocking events renewed questions about whether current regulations are adequate.

“Once again a weapon that should have been used for recreational sport shooting was used to kill, and this time the perpetrator was a markswoman herself,” the paper said. “She would not have been able to commit the crime if she had faced tighter weapon regulations.”

While stronger laws for such weapons may not prevent every crime, they would hinder at least a few, the paper said."

“After the most recent crimes we must be allowed to weigh the freedom of sports shooters against other people’s right to life. In this society people’s freedom is encroached for petty reasons. Is it really unreasonable then if marksmen only have a right to reach for their weapons when they are practising the sport? Stricter weapons law won’t make disturbed people better. But in individual cases it could soften the consequences of their behaviour.”

Hannover daily the Neue Presse agreed with this view, lamenting: “Why on earth do sport shooters bring their weapons and pistols into their homes at all? There is no plausible reason.”

These guns are meant only for use within sporting clubs, where they should be stored with the appropriate security precautions, the paper said.

This is an excellent question, and German newspapers are performing a valuable service by asking the question ... although the context in which the question is raised may seem, to the average American reader, to be slightly skewed to a conclusion which is pre-ordained by the publisher.

This newspaper seems to accept the precept that private ownership of firearms is "A Bad Idea", even though a half-hearted attempt has been made to present the question in a 'neutral' context.

Why SHOULD German citizens be permitted to own firearms? After all, one article supports the concept of a "Nanny State", and the other (under the guise of presenting the 'general viewpoint of the average German Citizen') presupposes that there is no justifiable reason for private ownership of firearms.

The Jews know why.

In the period 1939-1943, under increasing persecution by the Nazis, the Jewish population of the Warsaw Ghetto learned that the only viable opposition was "armed resistance". Only by forcibly opposing German oppression were they able, for a short time, to prevent the Germans from shipping them to concentration camps. While they were in the Ghetto, the Jews discovered that the sole relief from persecution was to resist, by force of arms, German oppression and persecution.

It didn't last; the Jews were eventually overwhelmed by the diversion of a German artillery division for a series of months. But during that period, they succeeded in weakening, even so slightly, the German military power although it caused the Jewish population to suffer grievously.

Yes, the Jews know why it is tantamount to tyranny for a civilian population to be denied the God Given Right to self-defense. It isn't a matter of permitting citizens to engage in sporting competition; it isn't because a government "allows" its citizens to own firearms; it isn't even because a government 'recognizes' their right to defend their home against individual predators.

God gives them the right to defend themselves against a predatory government. Nothing less is implied, nor significant in comparison to the right to defend the freedom of the people.

If the Germany of today does not recognize, or accept, that Right, then the citizens of Germany are only fooling themselves when they think that a paltry few individuals who die because a German person goes 'mad' and shoots his or her neighbors justifies abrogation of that right.

Madness on the individual level is surely to be deprecated; madness against an entire segment of the population is ... Government.

When we allow "The State" to determine our fates, we give out fate unto the hands of people who are "popular". Have we not yet learned that popularity does not equate to wisdom?

Germany should have been the first group of people to recognize the value of (as it is known in America) the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Apparently, they have already forgotten the lesson.

The Jews have not.

Let us all learn from the Jews.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Craigslist Ad

To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last. Date: 2009-05-27, 1:43 a.m. E.S.T.


I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head ... isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb ... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what 's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).

In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you ... but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,

Alex

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Last Hunt

It was late in the 1980's, my father (whom I had always address as "Pop") was 75 years old and his bones and his eyes were both getting old.

Pop and I had been hunting Antelope since 1963 .. first in the Owyhee Reservoir in Eastern Oregon, then in the Steens Mountain region west of the Malheur Wildlife Reservation. But when the draw for Oregon Antelope Hunts had become so fiercely competitive that it was virtually impossible to reliably get tags, we began buying tags for the Antelope hunts near Rawlins, Wyoming.

By the middle 8o's it had become apparent that all of the 'good' areas even in Wyoming had been taken, so even though the Western Cheyenne area was not a highly populated Antelope area, we decided to spend another week, another thousand bucks, and drive a thousand miles each way for a last Father and Son Hunt.

We both bought 'felt hats' (his was brown, mine was dark grey) and brought matching .41 Magnum revolvers to the hunt. Mine was the original 'iron sights', his had a 6x optical scope which was firmly mounted by copious amounts of glass-embedding compound which he had used in his stock-making business.

On the first day of the Wyoming Antelope season, we found a nice draw beside the forest service road in( whatever the National Forest immediately West of Cheyenne was named), and set up a make-shift camp with our cheesy tow-along trailer/camper. We had two-and-a-half days to hunt before we had to start back, so we got there early and after a hard trek up a 60% hill we found ourselves glassing a high prairie covered in knee-deep yellow prairie grass. We saw lots of antelope, be we knew by our experience they would be scattered the next morning.

The first day we mostly loafed around. Tried to sight in our GoatPistols ... Pop's scope mounts failed after two shots (the glass bedding compound was not able to withstand the pounding recoil), so no telescopic sights for his pistol. He would have to settle for his hand-made 6mm-280 rifle. A fierce weapon for the thin-skinned "Prong Horned Antelope" but not what he would have preferred. He wanted to take "The Goat" after overcoming a challenge.

Little did we know then how much of a Challenge it would be to take meat, let along an edible beast.

So our first morning was devoted to haphazard shooting, with no expectation that any game in the area would stay put while we were plinking.

But Antelope are both fickle and curious creatures, and one can never know what will cause them to move away ... or stay ... in an area where there is shooting going on. Unlike Deer, Antelope tend do graze where cattle graze, and if the cattle are not concerned by rude noises, sometimes the Antelope stay in the same area "anyway".

Later that day, I found myself laying on my back in a shallow gully, trying to stay still while a herd of Antelope grazed nervously around me. I suppose I should have shot one of the, but I was so enthralled by their propinquity, and their beauty, that I could not bear to disturb them.

Later in the day I had a head-shot at a decent buck at either 20 or 90 feet; took a shot with the revolver and hit him right between the horns ... and about two feet high. No trophy here.
Even later, what was probably the same buck jumped up and ran left-to-right across a big open area; I took either two or six shots at him, missing him every time. The term "Buck Fever" was invented for this kind of situation. Pop was standing behind me, laughing quietly. I didn'tmind; I wasn't expecting to take an antelope with a pistol; hoping, yes. Expecting, no.


The second day of the hunt, we were getting more serious. And this is where the disappointment of the hunter entered the picture.

Middle of the day, I found the King Buck Antelope standing broadside in the tall grass less than 200 yards away .... proud, arrogant, and a perfect target for the 6mm-280 that my father was carrying. I pointed the buck out to my father, and he could not see it. At all.

I got behind Pop and moved his six-power scoped rifle as close as I could to the antelope. Pop still couldn't see it.

In frustration, pop said "I can't see it .. why don't you take it?"

"No", I said. "This is your antelope, Pop. Either you take it, or we'll walk away. You choose."

He couldn't see it, and the antelope walked away. And so did we.

We went back to the camp, chased our hats which had been blown away in the afternoon predominant Westerly Wind. We ate a light meal, and had a drink, talked until dark and got to bed early.

The next morning the third day of the season, I awoke early. Tried to wake Pop and he said
"I don't really don't feel like getting up; why don't you just go hunt without me?"

I didn't really want to hunt without him, but I did. I tried out my home-made "snake load" rounds from the .41 Magnum on a telephone pole about 10am. It made a nice pattern.

Just before noon, a pretty little doe pranced up onto the ridgeline I was wandering along, and then stopped in (again) the classic broadside pose. Less than 100 yards away, and although I had never knowingly killed a female of any game animal, I took the shot. We had "any sex" tags, so it was legal and ... well, I couldn't bear the though of coming home without any meat, so I dropped her as clean as I could, which was not much of a challenge for the .25-06 loaded with 117 grain Nosler boat-tail bullets .. which I had used successfully at five times the range, several times.

Field dressed, I guess the sweet girl weighed about 70 pounds, so it was no great chore to drag her the 200 yards or so to the truck. I boosted her onto the rack on top of the cab, and we skinned her out at the camp.


That night we made it as far as Evanston, a few miles short of the Western Wyoming border. We got a motel room, and just as we walked into the restaurant the power went out. We sat down n what was (as it turned out) the dining room. We sat there for an hour while we listened to the folks in the bar laughing and enjoying themselves; if we could have found it in the dark, we would have had a better time. The bartender obviously know the location of the 'good stuff', and it was all free. We never had a drop.

But we had a good dinner, eventually, and went back to our room for a good night's sleep. At 6am the next day we awoke to 4" of snow and that sweet doe was frozen stiff from there, thru breakfast at Salt Lake City, and on into the cooler at Schwaggart's Frozen Foods in Pendleton by closing time.

We got a hide, and from that a couple of pairs of soft gloves out of the old girl. Oh, and about 40 pounds of good Antelope steaks after she was boned out. Pop wouldn't take any of the meat; said it was my kill, my meat, and I hadn't the heart to insist that he take any of it.

Because the truth was, Pop really wouldnt have been able to stomach any of it. He had his chance for a good trophy Antelope, and he just couldn't get the job done.

I ate every bit of that she-goat, over then next year, and as much as I enjoyed it I would much rather he had taken an equal share.

The trip cost us at least $1,000 each, which when prorated over 40# of meat made it the most expensive meals I had ever eaten.

But the expense, the meat, the trip .. none of that was the point.

The point was that my father never went hunting again, and he died a few years later from a combination of Diabetes, Cancer and Alzheimer's, never having enjoyed a bite of the meat and ... if his memory had been intact ... knowing that he didn't take one of the best shots of his life.

But he had the hunt, he had the time with his son, and he never voice more than a passing regret.

Me? I wanted him to have that shot. Hit or miss, I had guided him to one of the best animals he had ever not-taken.

This is the man who, on my first antelope hunt 15 year earlier, took the best antelope out of the herd right out from under my sights on Opening Day, because dammit .. he had the shot, and I didn't.

He taught me everything I know about hunting, about sportsmanship, and about shooting. And in the last months of his life he didn't know who I was. For all that, he didn't know who his wife was.

The perfect end to this story would have had him nailing that buck in the tall grass, but it just wasn't what fate had in store for him.

It may be the last good lesson he had to teach me; disappointment, and how to deal with it. I didn't want to learn that lesson quite so early, but it has served me well in the ensuing years.


It always hurts. Disappointment always wounds. But I have learned to just ... let it go, and move on.

I'll probably not be able to teach this lesson so well to my own children. God, I hope not!

But if I could, I could wish no better wish than to teach this most bitter lesson by simply ... sleeping through it.

There was a man.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

LAST weekend (September 11, 2010) I managed to make it to a USPSA match and shot the whole thing! This is my goal at all matches, of course, but you may recall that at the Monster Match the weekend before, I only competed in the first day of the two-day match.

In itself, this match is not particularly exceptional. It was a great club match, I had many (too many!) stages where I almost did it right, I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed shooting with some good people.

But this is what I have learned to expect from a match. Just enough mistakes to keep me from looking like I know what I am doing, and the company of good people making it worth the effort and expense of, basically, "showing up".

I did take a lot of time taking pictures, which is another thing I enjoy.

Well, no. I don't like taking pictures all of the time, because I would rather just watch folks shoot as other people do .. with the naked eye. Trying to film as much as I can is a great distraction, and I only do it for a couple of different reasons.

First, because it I can later give the edited films to the people who are shooting with me on that day, and second because it gives me video to include in the articles I write here.

The first reason is the real purpose.

I learned a long time ago that people don't object to me filming them, even when they screw up because it gives them the opportunity to critically review their own performance.

My own experience, when someone has video-taped my stage runs, is that I can not only see what I did wrong, but I can also see what I do right. That helps me understand both my weaknesses and my strengths, so when I am walking through a stage in the future, I can choose the best way to shoot it by determining whether I can capitalize on my strengths.

And of course, it also shows me the things I need to practice.

As if I ever practice.

One of the better events in this match is that I was squadded with some people who were students at the "Introduction to USPSA" class which I teach.

This is a 3-hour course (often extended for the convenience of the students) which attempts to teach folks who have not competed in USPSA matches what they need to do. We not only teach safety rules, we also teach etiquette, the rules of competition, and what can help your performance. And we strive to make every new shooter the rules of safety, and all of the ways in which they can avoid to violating those rules.

At this match, I was pleased to learn that I had been squadded with several people who had taken that course. They are all good folks, and I like them. So I was especially gratified to see what they had learned after having taken the course, and then getting a couple of matches under their belts.

It's not easy to get started in Practical Shooting, and I've learned that they will often make mistakes .. but they rarely violate the safety rules. At least, those who are obviously paying attention learn that.

Yes, I got to matches with, and I squad with, the people that I teach. I've learned that they have enough problems with just becoming comfortable to the competitive environment. They don't need someone offering unsolicited advice. They will learn to dope out the best way to shoot a stage sooner or later. The important thing is that they shoot safely. All of the other stuff won't be learned until they mess up a stage or two. Or more.

So I don't offer advice. When they want it, they know they can ask. Usually, they don't ask. They want to make this sport their own, or they don't want to continue competing.

All they want, is to shoot. Eventually they will learn ways to shoot which make them more competitive, but the best thing to do is to just ... let them shoot.

Sometime during every class, I make this point to the students:
"When you go to your first class, you need to make it clear to your squad that you are a New Shooter. If asked, they will put your scorecard down at the bottom. That's good, you are new at this and you need to 'go to school' on more experienced shooters.

And sooner or later, one of the more experienced shooters will offer you advice. You should listen to them carefully, smile, and thank them for the advice. Then just go shoot the stage they way that seems best to you."


Usually, unsolicited advice is an annoyance at best, and insulting at worst.

The moral of the story is, if you are one of those "more experienced shooters", you should be reluctant to offer unsolicited advise. Whatever you say will probably be right, but as long as it is not a safety issue, or a clarification of the rules (which they have violated, or might have come very close to violating), the kindest thing you could say to them is "Good job! You shot the stage safely."

I'm sure glad I got that of my chest, and thank you for listening to my unsolicited advice.

Now, I'm including a video from the last ARPC club match, featuring two shooters who have only a few matches experience. I've already sent this video to them, but I want to include it here to show that even relatively 'raw' shooters can do just fine in competition. They may do some things that you think you could help them to do better, but I think it's a really good idea to treat them with the same courtesy and thoughtfulness that you expect others to extend to you.

In other words, consider not bothering them while they're finding their own best way though the competitive jungle.

If I need to be more clear: just shut up and let them rock!


video

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monster Match 2010

Here's the Bad News:

In the spring of 2010, land developers encroached upon what had been "safe" over-the-berm areas to the west of the Chehalem Valley Sportsmen's Club in Dundee, Oregon. Because all but one of the shooting bays at this Dundee range had been oriented to the west, it became necessary to go in with earth-movers and carve new shooting bays oriented to the south. At a club-cost of $40,000 to $50,000, the Dundee club had managed to get most of the earth moving done, and most bays established, by July of 2010. They still needed to do 'other' range work, including establishment of a semi-permanent building in what had been the "Croc Bay" to serve as a stats shack. Mainly because work was still in progress, the Dundee "You Got Bullets?" Croc Match was not scheduled for this year.

This high-round-count match has always been both a well-appreciated, well-attended match, but also one of the staples of the club's annual match income.

We local people were disappointed, especially because the 2009 match had been canceled due to the general unavailability of reloading components to the public -- due to the combination of heavy Military consumption of ammunition, and a general public 'run' on ammunition and components after the election of Barack Hussein Obama in the fall of 2008.

Here's the Good News:
This year the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club (ARPC) chose to put on a somewhat similar high-round-count match.

Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend (September 4-5, 2010), the match criteria was: Eight stages in two days, OVER 450 round minimum required to complete the match, $50 match fee, and competitors ARE permitted to pick up their brass as long as it does not delay the match.

Speaking personally, that has been one of the main reasons why I have not been able to attend the annual Crock Match in recent years. Those matches were going to ten stages, 650+ rounds minimum requirement ... and the ammunition cost was often as high, or even higher than the match fees.

Thanks to the good offices of the Hobo Brasser in loading 1200 rounds of ammunition for me (all new Winchester .38 Super brass), I was able to attend.

Author note: I was unable to attend both days, for the simple fact that my recurring battle with Insomnia kept me from sleeping after the Saturday round. At 7am on Sunday morning, I had to call the MD, Mike McCarter, and notify him that I wouldn't be shooting that day as I was in no condition to run&gun. It is important to notify the statistician so that my missing score sheets would not cause them to delay release of the final scores. I ended up in 39th place.


The match ran smooth as clockwork and according to the final scores (apparently not yet available online) 50 people showed up for the match. Four DQ'd, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.


I managed to get videos of all of the 5 stages I shot. Too bad I didn't get to shoot the other three stages, because some of them seemed very challenging ... with lots of steel targets, including the Texas Star.

Here are the stages and the descriptions:


Stage 4: Swinging
This 240 point, 48 round was mostly shooting at cardboard, with the only 'gimmick' that the last two ports were covered by a door which had to be manually moved by the shooter to engage the second port, both of which were available from the same location. It should have been a hoser-fest, but as it was the first stage of the match for this squad, most of us were very deliberate in both movement and shooting pace. One squad member, Bill J., had gun problems within the first few seconds of this stage: broken extractor on his 1911 Limited gun. Fortunately, he managed to find a replacement pistol and completed the match.

video

Stage 5: Cross Over
This second stage (230 points, 46 rounds) was very similar to the first, without the door. There was an alley to traverse, targets available through ports on both sides, and at the end there was a mixture of cardboard and steel targets which couldn't all be seen from the same port.

Also, one of our youngest shooters, Dante (son of Adam, who you will also see a couple of times in the videos) had more gun problems: his 1911 Open gun would not reliably return to battery between shots. There was a question whether his small stature and musculature just wasn't providing sufficient resistance to the recoil to make it function correctly ... a not uncommon situation derogatorily described as "Limp Wristing". Eventually Adam found someone who had a lighter 1911 Recoil Spring, which when swapped out for the original seemed to solve the problem.


video


Stage 6: Sit Back
Except four the round count (285 points, 57 rounds), this stage was somewhat similar to the preceding stage, in that it involved traversing an alley and engaging targets through ports on both sides of the alley. The targets were mixed cardboard and steel. A couple of barrel-stacks at the end of the alley made it necessary to engage targets from both sides of both stacks, and one of our squad just didn't see that sneaky US popper hiding behind the right-side barrel stack.

The shooting ports were 20" gaps between the (snow fencing) vision barriers, and more than one of us ... including myself ... ran past a port toward the end and had to back-pedal to complete the stage without Failure To Engage and compounded Miss penalties.

The necessity of starting out sitting in a soft car-seat, back touching the back of the seat, was a safety related concern for people who, like me, were using Race Holsters. The choice was to lock the pistol in the skeletal-framed holster and then fumble with it on the draw, or to be VERY careful in the way you sit, your posture, and controlling the gun when standing up. As far as I know, nobody DQ'd the match because of this issue during the match.

These three stages, in sequence, may seem boringly similar ... especially in that there is some lateral, then some deep "vertical" (uprange to downrange) movement required. In the actual event, each proved to have its own challenge, and represented variations on the theme of requiring the shooter to be thoroughly familiar with target disposition and the best place to engage them. This is particularly important because of the large number of targets, and the limited number of places from which they could be engaged. If nothing else, they emphasized what must be every IPSC shooter's mantra: "Do a thorough walk through, know each target and shooting position, and be VERY aware of the need for tight ammunition management!"

Yes, in this match this was very true even for hi-cap shooters.

Note that every stage was carefully designed to be 8-round neutral. As is always the case in high-round-count matches, Revolver shooters had to be very aware of places where they could minimize standing reloads, and 10-round limited (Limited 10, Production) shooters experienced ammunition management challenges throughout the match.



video

Stage 7: Double Stack
This stage (220 points, 44 rounds) was a sudden change in design. The access to targets were not so much restricted by vision barriers as it was by the need to engage them while positioned in one of five boxes .. and the last two target arrays could ONLY be engaged from the box farthest downrange.

Again, having a good game plan before starting the stage proved critical. It was possible to shoot the mirror-image stage without visiting all of the boxes .. but the two targets behind the barrels before the last box are extremely difficult to hit from that position, exposing as they do less than a couple of inches of target from the fifth box. Better to engage them from the middle-right box, as you will see both shooters in this video doing.

I, being the first shooter, didn't do such a good job. As I was crouching in the last box to get below the last vision barrier, I realized that I had not engaged those two deep central targets from the fourth box. Faced with the need to either move backwards to the fourth box, or take the slim margin available from my last shooting position, I chose to lean to the right and shoot around the barrels. I got double-D hits on the lower target. The upper target exposed the B-zone and the upper A-zone, so I got one hit on each target. Major penalty of time involved in making such careful shots, but it took less time than moving backwards.



video

Stage 8: Watch Your Step

This last stage was ARPC's answer to the well-beloved "Jungle Run", as the similar stages at the Croc Match have historically been called. It was a high-value stage: 270 points, 54 rounds minimum.

The Croc Match built its Jungle Run along a path following a small creek. There was a little up-hill running, some down-hill, but it was mostly level.

This Jungle Run was uphill, all the way!

When we came on the stage, we took the better part of a half-hour just walking through the stage trying to find all of the targets. This was necessary, because at least two targets were not visible to competitors who just followed the narrow road which defined the course of fire.

After getting to the top of the road, a path branched off to the right (still leading uphill) where ten cardboard targets and two pepper-poppers lurked. The competitor could stop just a few feet from the turn, and engage all of the targets ... many of them at long ranges (in excess of 50 feet, especially for the steel.) But that turned out to be a Bad Idea, because some of the targets were double-stacked ... an obvious target stacked high on the target frame, and another target below it on the same frame, which could only be seen by running (or in my case, trudging) another 20 feet up hill. The problem? The targets were sited in thick, thigh-high underbrush, and could only be seen from the uphill shooting position.


One of the first shooters in our squad elected to not move any further uphill, but engaged the visible targets (10 IPSC, 2 US Popper) from the turn. He got miss and FTE penalties on the two hidden targets, and panting while engage steel targets from 50 feet is a very tiresome exercise ... especially when it takes a dozen hits to down the steel.

I made several trips up and down that hill during our extended walk-through, and ran the score-sheets up and down the hill for the first 4 or 5 shooters. Well, I was far down in the shooting order, I thought I could do that and still do well.

I was wrong. By the time I turned the score sheets over to another (and younger!) squad-member, I was in pain and out of breath. When my turn to shoot came up, I didn't do a lot of running.

But I knew where every target was, and I had no miss or FTE penalties. Of course, it took forever for me to get through the stage. I took over 73 seconds, all of it uphill. The top shooters were completing the same COF in half the time. (Yeah, but can they program in COBOL, SQR, SQL and Pro-C? I think not!)

The video below shows a pair of shooters, from my resting position uprange of the starting box. They are not very good, because I was shooting into the sun (hence the purple haze on the video) and because you can't always see the shooter. I left the camera rolling for one shooter as he went out of sight, just to capture the sound of many more shots from his hidden position around the turn. And on the last shooter, I allowed the camera to drop JUST when Iain was doing his fanciest shooting ... double-tapping a close target on the way past it, strong-hand only.


video

Conclusions:
It is difficult, and perhaps unfair, for my to draw conclusions about the whole match when I didn't experience the whole match. I can truthfully say that I regretted not returning for the second day, in which we only had to shoot 3 stages. I think they were probably the most interesting stages.

About the only criticism I can feel good about is that the Jungle Run stage was more a test of strength, stamina and endurance than about shooting skill. And that's small potatoes, when you consider that IPSC started out by depicting real-life "combat shooting" situations, as my be experienced by Law Enforcement Officers. In truth, I think that Col. Cooper, the Father of IPSC, would have approved of this stage.

It would have been MUCH better, in some ways, to have a dedicated RO and taping team running this stage. They would have had to be Iron Men, though. And not working the stage doesn't provide the average shooter with the opportunity to understand the stage and identify each target, and from where they best can be engaged.

Ultimately, the best I can honestly say about this match (or the portion of which I attempted) is:

It kicked my ass!

(Oh, and I will definitely be back again.)

_______________
Later:
It took me 2 weeks to complete this blog article .. sorry for the delay. It took one day to edit the videos into something that was even reasonable acceptable, and 4 hours tonight to load the videos and write the text.

The rest of the time, I was wondering what the heck I could say to make the article interesting, at least to the folks who were there.

I hope there's some interest also for the folks who were not participating.