Saturday, April 02, 2011

Introduction to USPSA: April, 2011

Thursday night (March 31), I realized that I didn't know whether or not there were any students pre-registered in the Intro class for Saturday, so I emailed Mac asking whether I should show up or not.

Friday, I received a response saying that he had received an inquiry from one person:

Also, my in-basket included a CC from Bernie confirming that he wanted to take the class, and offering both email and phone contact information.

I phoned Bernie "after dinner" (6:45pm in any self-respecting Oregon home, although not in mine) and confirmed that he did intend to take the course. I sent him an email with the basic information .. known as "The Boilerplate". That included an invitation to "... bring your friends, bring your family ...", so when I showed up at the range Saturday afternoon Bernie met me at the gate and said he had brought his friend Tim.

Tim seemed reasonable conversant with basic gun-handling concepts, even though he announced that he had only bought his pistol a short time ago. He mentioned that he had qualified with pistols in the military; that seemed to be "a good start", if not a guaranteed of advanced techniques. I accepted him as a student with few questions.

We moved down to Bay 7, and about the time we were starting to do our classroom segment, David showed up. He said he had been trying to work the class into his schedule for "a long time", but this was the first date he had been able to attend. He informed us that he had been competing in Speed Steel for some time, so I accepted this as verifying his basic gun-handling skills.

We got through the preface, started working through the test that they had (well, Bernie and Tim) downloaded from the Internet, and another student showed up: Juan.

Juan didn't profess to have any specific pertinent experience in gun-handling. Even though he had not been vetted by Mike McCarter, who usually handles and unknown or "marginal" entries to the class, I instinctively liked him because his calm and confident demeanor. I accepted him into the class anyway.

So I had one person with demonstrated skills-sets; one with only a recommendation from Mac; one with no demonstrable background at all; and one who admitted he has a new pistol with which he has not experience.

To my not-so-special surprise, all four of them managed to endure the next few hours of instruction and testing with .. perhaps no errors, but they all demonstrated good judgment even when the Feces hit the Rotary Air Conditioning.

It's a general statement that people who want to take this class usually have more experience and/or better judgment when it comes to gun-handling skills than the average man in the street. This is not universally true, and my experience in the past before Mac assumed the responsibility for vetting prospective students was sometimes unpleasantly surprising; still, 3 out of 4 participants were this week accepted although they had not necessarily demonstrably met the minimal qualifications.

We are, after all, an Equal Opportunity Gun Club. And I don't even have a bullet-proof vest.
But then, being in charge of the class allows me to exert the ultimate control of the class, shooters and stages; I have the authority to refuse further training on anyone who doesn't meet my standards. I've not had to exercise that yet; although the day the lady pointed a pistol at my belly while we were chatting at the safety table did give me a moment of retrospect about my decision to accept the trainer position. BTW, she never appeared at a match. Perhaps she realized independently that she didn't have the proper mindset to do "run-'n-gun" with live ammunition.

Anyway ....

Amazing that 24 hours before I thought I had no students, and now I had four. Even more amazing considering the the temperature at 1pm was 46 degrees and there was a strong wind bring an uncomfortable wind-chill factor into the equation.

These guys were really interested. What with the recap for slightly late-arriving Juan, and considering that at least one of them had neither red the manual or completed the test, the one-hour classroom session took us an extra 30 minutes over the scheduled time.

Then it took another 20 minutes to raid the prop room and set up the basic stave construction for the "Live Fire" exercises. By the time we started working on them, we were 47 minutes behind schedule.

I talked fast, but these guys were sharp and motivated; they asked intelligent questions in class, not all of which they may have need had everyone completed the preparatory material. However, they were all quick-witted and nobody asked a 'dumb question'. (I don't know what that is, except that my impression is that a "dumb question" is the one which is not asked. I was glad that I had already invited them to interrupt my presentation if they had questions; that allows me to respond with information which they really need.)

So, we got into the Live Fire portion a little late, and as a consequence when we got down to the end of the hard-wired syllabus, they were all willing to stay a little late so they could get the "extra credit" stage. Today, that included an impromptu stage teaching advanced topics such as "strings" in a stage, and "Strong-hand/Weak-hand" target engagement.

Everyone voted to stick around for that exercise, and I was impressed at how well they performed. At least one student told me that he had very little experience shooting handguns; no experience in competitions; and in fact he had just bought the handgun he expected to use "a few weeks ago" (a Beretta 92, which he discover was too large-framed for his hands).

But that wasn't the most notable moment of the class.

Teaching Moments:
I try to emphasize to these class attendees that there are some things in Practical Pistol Competition which are not intuitively obvious, and these will lead to moments of confusion or dismay in which they will doing something "not in their best interest". Also, that if there is an "extreme sport" version of competitive shooting, it is in Action Shooting (Practical Pistol, Multigun, 3-gun, etc.) In order to help them understand how actions which they take without thinking may lead to disaster, I describe at least a couple of things they need to think about.

During cold-weather months, almost everyone shows up with jackets, sweatshirts, and long-tailed shirts. I make a point of explaining that when they shoot a stage, they would be best served if they remove their coats/jackets before coming up to The Line. If they have a top which hangs outside their belt they must be absolutely certain that they holster their pistol carefully; if a shirt, jacket or sweater is hanging loosely about their waist, that material may be inadvertently scrunched between their pistol and the belt. In that case, if they (for instance) raise their arms above their head, the material may drag the pistol up out of the holster far enough that the pistol will fall on the ground.

The class, as seems reasonable, pretty much ignored this. All of my classes ignore this, because I give them a lot of advice and it becomes "Information Overload". (Think: "This guy is over-teaching, and it's not gonna happen to me because he's a worry-wort and I KNOW how to shoot .. he has nothing important to tell me.")

You can buy them books, but you can't make them read.

Five minutes after we had established the range props and targets, I was explaining the first exercise when I hear the clatter of a pistol hitting the concrete pad on the covered bay. Glancing to the side, I see a small Glock on the pad, and a very worried student wondering how the hell he's going to survive this Teaching Moment.

One of the other scenarios we had discussed was --- dropped gun. Drop your gun on the range while you're shooting a stage: definitive DQ. Drop your gun while you're smokin' and jokin' with your buddies in the Squad Area, you're okay as long as you do NOT touch the gun! That's "handling a firearm", and Match DQ."

Definite Teaching Moment. I've told them that their primary concern is the same as the Eddy Eagle Program:
  • Stop!
  • Don't Touch!
  • Call an Adult!
Or in IPSC terms: protect the gun, and call a Range Officer.

I got everyone uprange of the gun (even if I had to push them), looked at the gun in situ, rotated it downrange so it wasn't pointing at anyone. Then I picked up the gun, cleared it (unloaded, of course), called the owner over and handed it to him with the instruction to "unload and show clear; hammer down; holster".

End of lesson, except explaining how it illustrated one warning (don't let your clothing bind your pistol in the holster) and one Safety Rule ( don't touch a downed gun).

I have to say, this was the first time that this particular warning was so graphically illustrated. It was almost as valuable as the time in an earlier class when a Demonstrator I had shanghaied to help me with the class tripped during a Course of Fire ... and was NOT DQ'd because he "did everything right".

Full Disclosure: since I shot my first match in 1983, I have NEVER seen anyone drop his gun on a concrete floor in the Squad Area because when he raised his arm his shirt-tail pull his gun out of his holster. But I've seen less demonstrative incidents related to this phenomena, and I always knew it was just a matter of "when", not "if". And no, it's not that the student was especially negligent. He just did what a lot of people do without thinking. I can guarantee that nobody in THIS class holstered a pistol without checking whether his clothing was trapped between his pistol and his holster; and none of them will ever again holster a pistol without making that check.

When we actually started shooting, we discovered that there were two other issues which had not been clear -- or, having been clear, not immediately loaded in the Hind-Brain so it would never happen:
  1. Keep your finger off the trigger when you are loading/unloading, clearing a jam, or moving; this is a Safety Issue and may lead to a Match Disqualification (DQ);
  2. When you are done with the Course of Fire, and the Range Officer give the command "If clear, hammer down, holster", you should do exactly that ... paying close attention to maintaining control of your firearm and NOT "sweeping" yourself. THEN you can worry about picking up your dropped magazine, your unfired/ejected round, and your brass; and if you didn't perform according to your self-imposed standard you are free to beat your head against the Bianchi Barricade. In the meantime, listen to your RO and do exactly what he tells you to do; nothing more, nothing less.
When they violated a safety rule, I stopped them and announced that they had just been DQ'd. Then I let them continue.

One student was "DQ'd" twice during the same stage; once for leaving his finger on the trigger during a reload, and the second for leaving his finger on the trigger during Unload And Show Clear.

Other areas which need work:
Very few areas here, as this was an exceptional class. The single most frequent recurring problem, other than leaving your finger on the trigger during loading/unloading, movement, and clearing a jam was that students sometimes forgot to reload when a mandatory reload was part of the Stage Procedures.

Then, we announced it to everyone in the class. Reinforcing the lesson is embarrassing when you are the subject of The Teaching Moment, but it tends to help you remember The Thing You Did Wrong. Calling attention to a failure to perform a mandatory reload, for example, is part of emphasizing the "per-shot" penalties which are imposed when you forget to reload when the Stage Procedures tell you that you must do so.

Other than that, the relatively minor problems which were demonstrated during the class were no different than any other class. These included: not knowing what to do when you performed a mandatory reload, so you racked the slide "anyway" thereby discarding a round from your gun; at the beginning of the stage, forgetting what the Starting position was and therefore assuming it was the same as a previous stage (e.g. "surrender position"); and at one point during the Live Fire exercise, slowing down to look at the gun to determine what "condition" it was in. *(Is the safety On, or Off; and should the safety be On or Off?)*

IPSC competition is very different from the usual "going to the range with your pals, and handling the guns indifferently at the counter in front of the range". When we shoot with our friends, and we either aren't aware of the Safety Regulations or we assume that they don't apply here, we tend to develop bad habits. Breaking these Bad Habits is one of the un-announced primary purposes of USPSA training.

In a way, embarrassing a student because he demonstrates gun-handling habits which are entirely comfortable to him when he's shooting casually with his friends, but In Real Life (i.e. contrary to the rules of safe gun-handling), seems cruel. On the other hand, one of my common practices is to inform the students at the beginning of the class that ... one major reason for the class is to ensure that they are all sufficiently aware of the difference between "safe" and "not safe" handling. Why do I care? Because someday I may squad with them, and I only want to squad with Safe Shooters.

I want them to be safe because I expect to squad with them. And I don't want to get shot.

So I do not allow my natural disinclination to embarrass them prevent me from making a MAJOR POINT OF IT when they violate a safety rule.

My job here is to acquaint and familiarize them with the rules, especially those rules concerning safe gun-handling, and when they perform an unsafe act I intend to do whatever is necessary to reinforce the concept: they just did something "unsafe", and If This Was A Real Match you would be DQ'ed.

And if I say it loud enough, the other members of the class will somehow register it in their minds that this is something that IPSC shooters take very seriously. They should avoid it, if only to avoid personal embarrassment. Sweeping; Finger on the trigger; breaking the 180; dropped gun; and all of the other naughty things that one might do during a USPSA match.

In fact, I have compiled a "Seven Deadly Sins" list of DQ-able offenses, and I have recently started to include that in my regular syllabus. Those "Seven Deadly Sins" include most of the Safety Failures which I teach to my students as UNACCEPTABLE:

  1. MUZZLE: don't break the 180 degree demarcation between a "safe" zone where you can point your gun, and where you cannot point your gun safely.
  2. FINGER: Keep your finger off the trigger when you are (1: moving except no more than one step, or when you are actively engaging targets), and (2: when you are reloading, unloading, clearing a jam).
  3. SWEEPING: Do not allow the muzzle to point toward any part of your body ... sweeping during holstering/drawing/bagging has special circumstances.
  4. Dropped Gun: If you drop your gun during a Course of Fire, it is a DQ. Special circumstances if you "ground" your gun while recovering from a prone position, etc. If you drop your gun not during a Course of Fire (e.g., while you are observing or out of the shooting area), it is not a DQ unless you touch your gun except under the direct and specific supervision of a Range Office.
  5. D&D: "Drunk and Disorderly": "DRUNK" specifically includes "under the influence" (alcohol or other drugs, even if prescribed by your physician), especially they if they undermine your judgment, ability to perform safely, etc. "Disorderly" specifically refers to Unsportsmanlike conduct such as arguing with the RO in an unseemly or profane manner.
  6. Over The Hill: specifically refers to "negligent discharges", and other incidents which may be loosely grouped under this sometime-vague umbrella (note: the rules may not be all that vague, but is sometimes a 'judgmental' definition).
  7. Cheating: Refers to claiming exceptions to the rules which are defined elsewhere. Example: deliberately dropping "eye or hearing protection", which is required -- and accidental loss requires a mandatory reshoot. ( "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" overlaps with #5: D&D.)
As usual, many of these issues and points of interest overlap with comments I have made in previous articles referring to the "Intro to USPSA" classes which I have been privileged to teach. For those comments which are obviously redundant, I apologize; it was not my purpose to bore you with meaningless repetition.

It's just my way.

However, in EVERY class I learn something new. Sometimes it's something ... some incident or occurrence which may be a new version, or reinforces something I have observed before and am astonished to see that it remains no matter how I change the course syllabus to emphasize recurring issues. Sometimes it's something that has been mentioned before, but is reinforced by an actual re-enactment of what had previously been nothing more than a precautionary note. (Case in point: clothing jammed between holster and pistol results in a "dropped gun:"; or, how the competitor should respond to the situation, and how they may expect the RO to deal with the situation.)

If you aren't interested in an ongoing litany of "How Things Can Go Wrong", it's easy to avoid any future re-visitation to this kind of article. Just ignore any post labeled "Intro to USPSA".

On the other hand, I think it's interesting to note the kind of situation which many of us who are more experienced just -- take for granted. Yet new shooters provide a prolific field of errors and misunderstandings which may help the rest of us to re-visit our gun-handling practices.

If it saves just one child Range Officer ....

Japanese Schoolgirls - NSFW

Nipponese Swing - Freaking Wild!

Another H/T to G-Man.

And NSFW doesn't mean "Not Safe For Work" here; instead, it means "Nipponese Swing ... Freaking Wild!"

"SING SING SING", that great Benny Goodman hit was ... Too hot to trot! (The Swing Girls don't even have a Clarinetist.) I've already watched it 3 times, and I'm not including the link for your benefit, but for mine; I wanna go back and watch it again and again. Wonderful performance of Le Jazz Hot. (Here's how Benny Goodman did it.)

The link takes you to some really "I feel The Need ... The Need To Speed" video. There are lots more where that came from; search YouTube for " . Unfortunately, they(whomever published the "Swing Girls" videos on YouTube) requested that embedding be disabled for this video. What a great loss for Jazz Lovers.

One of the videos which was NOT "disabled" was their treatment of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood", which was not one of their best. Their performance was desultory, not showing the energy which the 'disabled' videos allowed. They did all the technical things, but it didn't demonstrate the enthusiasm which they demonstrate in their best performances.`

I saw music from Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, and Duke Ellington played much better. It's a disservice to people who want to see more that they didn't allow their "best" to be embedded. (Incidentally, the RAF Band did "In The Mood" in the same way that The Glenn Miller Band did ... more upbeat. Even if the British musicians in their performance looked like aging sourpusses (which the Swing Girls apparently considered the be the audience of the Glenn Miller classic to be the same kind of aging sourpusses.) It may be that the conductor slowed down the tempo because of perceived limitations of the performers, but the Swing Girls may have shown as much enthusiasm if he had allowed them to play it at Full Speed.

They did "Take the A-Train" well, for example (with a guest First Sax, and "embedding disabled" -- sorry), but they seemed to be walking through it. (Also, the first trumpet player hit a couple of flat notes. It happens.) If it's not Rock and Roll tempo, it's just another day at work. Well done, of course, but ... when they get the stuff they like to do, they show The Flash what should happen when he says "FLAME ON!"

Their performance of "Moonlight Serenade" was well done, although the arrangement they were given may not have been hot enough for them.

If you want to see more of them, search YouTube for "First & Last Concert2004".

All of these numbers were apparently in a movie titled "The Swing Girls". My guess is that the flat notes and pedestrian numbers reflect their original bad attitude: IMDB description of the show:
A tale of delinquent and lazy school girls. In their efforts to cut remedial summer math class, they end up poisoning and replacing the schools brass ban
Well, that will sour the performance.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bob Hope Christmases with the troops

Bob Hope Christmases with the troops

I served my time, but I was never privileged to see a Bob Hope show. (We generally got Philippine Rock Bands, and we were glad to see them ... except for the Female Impersonators, but that's another story).

Thanks to Gary the G-man, we have the link to this short video.

Nobody who has ever been in this situation will ever deny that Bob Hope was A Great Man.

(Ten Minutes of Nostalgia. Worth the watch, if only for the chicks. And thank you again, Gary.)

Professional Shooters

Shooting Wire:
"Titusville, FL - Professional shooter Jessie Abbate won the Women's Open and Limited titles at the Steel Nationals held in Titusville, Florida this past weekend. Abbate also won the Steel Master title - a title awarded to the aggregate champion. With this victory, Abbate defended her 2010 Steel Master title. This marks Abbate's first major title of the 2011 shooting season." [Emphasis added by editor]

"Professional Shooter".

I think this is the first time I have seen the title "Professional Shooter" applied to Speed Steel (or USPSA) in a public release of match results, although of course we all know that they exist in those competitive sports.

They also exist in IPSC. But we don't really know for sure what that nomenclature means.

Most IPSC shooters are amateurs. That means, we provide most of the match fees for any match. We volunteer to work the match: administration (Match Director, Range Master, Statisticians, stage construction, Range Officers, etc. The only "professionals" who do any of this ... the functionaries who make USPSA matches works, are those few individuals who are hired by Match Directors to help with setup and tear-down. And they work for pennies, considering that they are doing manual labor at a very low hourly rate of pay.

IPSC Professionals pay to shoot the match, and they go home with most of the wins. To them the glory, the honor, and another bullet-point in their professional resumes. They do not typically "work" the match; they're not playing, as we are. They're working, and must necessarily not be distracted by extraneous activities. [Note: GMs and Professional Shooters almost always do their fair share during matches by taping and resetting targets; they are not ignorant of their obligation to do their share, nor are they usually reluctant to contribute.]

And we, the amateurs, facilitate their careers. Also, we compete against them. (Don't be fooled by "you only compete against people in your own division and class". Remember, their classifier scores are the yardstick against which your performance is measured. More on this later.)

Is that fair? You decide. If you choose not to read the whole article skip to the bottom to see the THESIS.


In USPSA, we are accustomed to competitors who regularly benefit financially from "prize tables" and other rewards. And we have recognized them as "Sponsored Shooters". At one time, it was recognized that their sponsors either helped the shooter with the expenses attendant upon competition: practice, travel, equipment, etc.

In fact, "sponsored" shooters are now regularly members of Shooting Teams: Army Marksmanship Unit, Team S&W, Team Glock, etc. This arrangement makes it possible for the better shooters to compete at little or no personal expense, and it enables Firearms Manufacturers to advertise their wins (suggesting, not too subtly, that it is the superiority of their firearm which provided the 'edge' for that competitor ... an excellent and time-tested marketing ploy).

Sponsorship aids winning; winning allows the competitor to not only enter more matches, but to practice more with less or no personal expense. And the cycle is self-reinforcing, providing even more of a competitive advantage as time goes by.

These competitors are those who not only have the drive to win, but also have the talent. All they need is to be able to afford all of those expenses ... material, travel and match expenses, etc ... and still be able to make a living to support themselves and their families.

Over the years, the sport of Practical Shooting has grown and benefited by the performance of "Sponsored" competitors. We see a Jerry Barnhart or Todd Jarrett, et al, and we connect with them. We see what the very best shooters can do, and it encourages us to strive to emulate them as best we can. And of course, through the USPSA Classification System, it allows us to be classified against "The Best, of The Best, of The Best" (see: Men In Black).

Obviously, it takes someone especially talented to compete in such august company. A paltry few of us can enter the ranks of Grand Masters; for the rest of us, B-class is "The Graveyard of Mediochre Shooters".
(Full Disclosure: yes, I'm a B-class shooter in some of the few Divisions in which I am classified; C-class in the rest, the ones in which I don't often compete. After 25+ years, it's obvious that I'm "not that good". I shoot for fun and the company, and I don't expect to win very often ... if at all.)

Still, it doesn't seem to matter; no matter in which division I compete, the top scores will have been matched against the "Professional Shooters". Grossly defined, these are people who not only have competition-related expenses, but also living expenses, provided by "someone else".

The "Professional Shooter" is someone who does so for a living. That is, they are not dependent upon paying for their day-to-day, normal cost-of-living expenses being paid for by a "real job". (A job which is not dependent upon their competitive ability.)

Many of these excellent competitors earn extra money teaching elements of competitive shooters; in company with a dozen or two other would-be competitors, I once paid Travis Tomasie $130 for a one-day course on the fine points of IPSC competition. I felt at the time (and I still feel) that I got my money's worth. He was 30 years younger than me, and he knew more about pistol competition than I had every figured out by my own experience. And I have bought tapes (Ron Avery) and books (Brian Enos) from other winning shooters, learning from them all.

Rob Leatham, "The Great One", has 'always' been described as a "driver for a livery company" (United Parcel Services?) As such, even though he is the perrenial winner in almost every match in which he competes, by this definition he should not be classified as a "Professional Shooter": but at his website he is named as "Rob Leatham Professional Shooter, 24-time USPSA National Champion, 5-time IPSC World Champion, action pistol shooter and practical shooting website".

I'm guessing that his day-to-day livelihood is not dependent upon delivering parcels to your doorstep anymore.


Even the most talented (eg: "naturally gifted") shooter has small hopes of competing successfully against a Professional Shooter. The best they can hope for ... and this has been the traditional career route ... is that someone will decide that they appear to have a sufficient talent that it's worth the financial obligation to sponsor them at least as far as providing ammunition for practice; the next step is match fees and travel fees; the third step is providing an 'honorarium' for linking their name to the product name.

That doesn't always provide enough money for the shooter to quit his or her "day job", but it may provide sufficient money for them to make their living expenses by offering Training Classes to wanna-be shooters.

At this point, I don't hold much hope of competing successfully against the person who trained me for a day, a weekend, or for a week. I can improve my own capabilities, but I have not the advantages in practice time and expenses to me competitive.

USPSA should make an effort to identify "Professional Shooters", and remove their Classifier scores from those against which the non-professional shooter must be measured. It should become a part of USPSA's functions to require professionals to self-identify, and put them in a special ... Category? Class? Division? for the purpose of Classifier Scores.

Amateurs should compete against other Amateurs; they should not compete against the Professional Shooters. This should be true also in Major Matches, which suggests that there should be a separate Category, at least, identifying which Professional Shooters actually WIN a match, a stage or a division.

Classifier Scores should also be maintained in a Separate classification matrix, so that Amateur Shooters are not classified in comparison to Professional Shooters.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Emergency Gear

When I was living with SWMBO, I was getting up at 6am so I could get to work early ... and therefore get back early enough to relieve her relatives who were "sister-sitting" her while I was at work.

Even after taking a shower and shaving, I wasn't really all that wide awake. So SHE and I developed a "Status Check" to make sure I had everything I really needed.

Most of my stuff was in my briefcase, which I carry with me everywhere. I didn't need to worry about incidentals like my check book. But I did need to keep track of the things I carried on my person.

I only needed to make sure I had five things:
  1. Eye glasses
  2. Phone
  3. Watch
  4. Car Keys
  5. Money Clip (including identification, like Driver's License)
It amazed me that I so often discovered I had forgotten to have one or more of those essential items.

(To be sure, I didn't really need the watch. I don't like wrist watches, and besides I had a watch on my cell phone, my key chain, and my money-clip. But SWMBO had given me the watch for Christmas and I was always conspicuously wearing it. The day she died, I put my wrist watch on the shelf and have not worn it since; I never wanted her to know that her gift was something that I didn't appreciate.)

Now my list is down to only four items, and it's a lot easier to keep track of. The funny thing is, my phone never rings and a few months ago I LOST my eyeglasses ... had to buy a new pair. But I hadn't forgotten to put it on when I left home, I just don't know what happened to it. Fortunately, I bought three pairs of cheap "drug-store" eyeglasses which only magnify, which is all I need for reading. I'm far-sighted, so I can drive just fine without glasses.

And I keep an extra set of keys in the car, which is double-locked with a keypad, so even if I forget my keys I can drive my car and get back in my house. There's $20 in cash hidden there, too, so I can buy lunch or some gasoline even though I may have forgot to bring my money-clip (although, of course, I cannot legally drive.)

I think it's a good idea to duplicate some "resources" so that even if I run out of the house naked (not my usual practice, but think "your house is on fire and all you need to do is to escape alive"), I'm not at the mercy of the elements nor dependent upon the charity of strangers. And yes, I also have a bag packed with spare clothes there, too. They have been stored in my car after the 2003 USPSA match at Tri-County Gun Club when it rained so hard that even my rain-gear didn't keep me from getting uncomfortably soaked. It would have been good to have dry clothes to change into then; now that I have a change of clothes available, I've never shot a match under such inclement conditions. But if I find myself in that situation again, I can expect to ride home warm and dry and comfortable. It's worth the investment of two square feet of space in the back of the car.

I also keep several bottles of water, some munchies (usually granola bars), boots, a blanket, extra batteries and extra ammunition for my carry pistol back there. Also, a few other handy items (hand warmers, blanket, batteries, matches, knife, a CB Radio, etc.) in the car. It all fits into the plastic bin .. another 4 square feet of the cargo area which usually serves no usual purpose.

The briefcase also carries munchies, a small amount of water, address book, pens and paper, etc.

In my pockets I also carry a flashlight, cigarette lighter, money, phone, ID and credit cards.

That gives me three levels of Emergency preparedness:

Immediate: in my pocket.
Short term: in my briefcase.
Longer term: in my car.

No, these few items don't constitute a SHTF preparedness. If I need more than this, I'm probably going to be SOL.

But for the next day or so, I'm able to be dry, warm, fed, watered and comfortable.

Of course, in the long run and in any civil emergency, I'm no more of a "survivor" than 99% of other people. That's why I have emergency stuff (stove, fuel, water, food, lanterns & fuel, etc.) in my pantry and garage. But still ... if it all goes in the pot ... I'm just one more person who doesn't believe in making my day-to-day life a fearful experience. I expect the world to continue turning as it always has. And if it doesn't? What the heck, I probably don't want to live in that world, anyway.

Life's too short to live it in fear.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BMI (Body Mass Index)

Want to know whether you're "Normal" weight, "Overweight", or "Obese"?

You can load your height and weight here ( and find out.

Quick self-test is also an alternative: If you're not sure, you're probably overweight. If you're really worried ... you're probably obese.

This is very unforgiving, folks, so don't go there if you don't really want to know.

I only know this because I was curious, having developed a Budda Belly. Yes, I am overweight.

Which is curious, because when I was in the army I weighted 141 pounds when I was drafted, and weighed 126 pounds when I came home.

According to the BMI calculator, I was "normal" at 141 pounds, and "underweight" at 126 pounds.

Funny, because everyone always considered me to be "skinny", even when I was drafted. When I came home at 126 pounds, I looked like a non-survivor at a Nazi Concentration Camp. But I felt fine, and was in the best physical shape of my life. In fact, I looked almost the same at 141 pounds. (Except at 141 pounds, when I got in fights, I sometimes won; the only way I could win fights at 126 pounds was by shooting people who were shooting at me, and hitting them first. This is not recommended for civilians, BTW, unless someone really is shooting at you.)

I was over 30 before I gained enough weight that I could no longer see my pelvis bones; now I can't even see my toes!

Five years after I got out of the army, I weighed 170 pounds. That's suppose to be "normal", but I remember popping a button off my shirt. Seems my weight all went to my belly.


I guess it's time for me to start thinking about less fried foods, and more vegetables and grains. Rye Whiskey is made from Grain, and that's suppose to be a healthy food group, isn't it? How can I go wrong?