Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Ambi safeties.

I don't understand the constant claim that the ability to equally use a firearm with either hand is undesirable.

I've been carrying Glocks and double-action revolvers for the most part for the last 8 years. Sure, I love my beloved 1911s. But you know what's hard? Picking up a stock 1911 with your left hand, knocking off the safety (one-handed), and firing it.

I practice shooting partly because I need to know that in a gunfight, I can do what needs doing. While the chances of getting into a gunfight are small, the chances of me getting shot in a gunfight that I'm participating in are actually pretty high. (Well, higher than I'm comfortable with.) Given that my strong arm would likely be presented to an adversary in a gunfight or even a blade attack, the chances of my strong right arm or hand being injured aren't inconsiderable. Why not have a good plan to end this thing?

I qualify twice a year, and shoot quite a bit more than that. I don't shoot enough left-handed. Whenever I do, I'm reminded of how much I suck at it. I don't see any point in making an already difficult task near impossible. I like small auxiliary ambi safeties.

Admittedly, some ambidextrous safeties aren't made properly or installed properly. I am assuming that you have a quality part and installation. Swenson has made some fine ones for years.

So here I am, at odds with friend Jim Wilson. At least Jim and I agree on the uselessness of full-length guide rods.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Let's all get shoulder-to-shoulder on this one:

A South Carolina state trooper named Sean Groubert shoots a guy. The guy (Levar Jones) was reaching for his wallet. The last shot was fired as the victim was actually raising his hands and surrendering.

Oh, and the victim was black, with the trooper was white.

The race of the victim may or may not have influenced the trooper's perception of what the victim was doing, but if so, this cop was so badly out of check that nothing was going to correct it.

There is nothing redeemable about this shooting. This trooper needs to be fired (done), charged (done), convicted (soon), and condemned by all cops. This isn't us. This was a fool who should never have been allowed to slip between the cracks and be a trooper.

I'm sorry, y'all. There's nothing more that I can say. We're better than this.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Upside down.

After working a full night and then some at the PD on Sunday, I hurried home, and changed clothes and went to the Fire Department. After doing a thorough vehicle check on a new piece of apparatus that we had just gotten second-hand from a larger department, I went to get my physical.

One of the reasons that I went to get my physical is because September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and it was time to see if my PSA had fluctuated at all. The last couple of years, my Prostate Specific Antigen has been so very low that the chances of me being one of the one in six men who develop prostate cancer are extremely low.  I get this every year. No, I've not had the digital-rectal exam in some time. Yes, the PSA test has a certain false result rate. But over the years, getting multiple negatives tends to show a trend line.  Get yourself checked, gentlemen. It was part of the same blood draw that they did for my overall workup. My insurance pays for the wellness check once a year for FREE, and that's not at all uncommon. One single stick in my left arm, and I get to find out all kinds of things about myself. You need to do this.  And you need to donate to the outstanding fundraising efforts being coordinated by my good friends for Kilted To Kick Cancer.

While at the doctor's office, I endured his very nice, but kind of embarrassing praise about my recent weight loss. I guess that 30 lbs is a lot to most people, but when you start at over 300 pounds, it's really just 10%.  My doc asked what I've been doing, and I shrugged and said that I've been moving around a little more, eating a little less, and I've cut carbohydrates in my diet. This last part makes me sad, because it's akin to scrubbing on a stain for 10 minutes, and realizing that you're actually making progress. Dang it-- I'm going to have to keep at it. :(

As you can see from my trend line on my geeky homemade spreadsheet, the progress is slow but sure.  But no one wants to read about someone's diet; I apologize.

I then took the Fire Chief's city truck in to get serviced, and found myself waiting in the lobby of the dealer maintenance department for 2 hours, realizing my blunder: I hadn't eaten all night and all morning, because I was NPO for the blood draw! Curses!  I stopped on the way back to the FD and ate heartily of sandwiches without their buns.

Getting to sleep after 3:00pm, I expected to get up and work on my EMT class online from about 11:00pm until 7:00am. I woke at 3:30am-- I had slept the clock around. I've not done that in a long time. But I'd been up for about 23 hours, too.

So it is that I'm now finishing my weekend kind of upside down. I got up this morning at about 1:30am, when I should have gotten up 10 hours or more before. Today is going to be rough at work.


I just now was getting my workout gear together, for a half-hour workout before my wife and kids get up. The majority of my marriage, I've been on opposite shifts from my wife. I have learned how to gather clothes in the dark pretty well. By accident, I've learned the value of a blacklight flashlight.  It turns out that I can shine a pretty bright UV flashlight around the bedroom as I get my stuff together, and this doesn't bother my sleeping wife the same as even a weak white light would. The reflected UV light just doesn't seem to penetrate the eyelids. So now I've got one on my bedside table.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September, this and that. Curmudgeon.

--I'm training a rookie. He's a nice guy, but I'm not used to having another guy in my patrol car. We're joined at the hip all shift.

--My daughter just turned 16, and I won't let her take her driving test until I'm completely satisfied with her ability with the manual transmission Honda that I'm giving her. She's really coming along, though. Something finally just clicked with regard to her feathering the clutch while revving an underpowered engine (there's just not that much compression left after all these years). I want her to really GET the joy of using your gears to maintain a perfect speed and keep you at the top of your power curve while downshifting through a downhill double-S curve, and then accelerating out of it, never touching the brake. I also love that she will know how to drive whatever she chooses to drive.

--I'm getting old or something. I've been really noticing lately how people let their kids interrupt adult conversations to have their say. I'm talking about 4 and 5 year-olds, lately. I'll be dealing with the parent in an important issue, and the parent will stop down to hear what the kid has to add. Which, of  course, means that I have to stop down to hear it, too. There is this egalitarian philosophy that seems to have pervaded the world, about how Everyone Has A Right To Give Their Opinion. Except that: that 4 year-old's opinion was not sought. It did not add to our understanding of the situation. Grownups were talking, and you have now rewarded undesired behavior.
I weep for our future.

--I get some evil looks when I casually mention that someone's kid is "kinda high maintenance, isn't he?" Oops.

--I bought some stuff from an older gent that my mother knows. He has Parkinson's and was clearing out some of his gun stuff. I got some dies and a bunch of bullets and a whole bunch of fired cases, along with some .44 Mag ammo  and some other reloading tools, for $100. I expressed interest in the old reloading manuals that he had, and he asked for $15 more. I only had a $20, and he didn't make change. Ah, well, I came away with a pretty good haul. That said, I don't have a 7mm magnum, for which a lot of the cases, bullets, and some dies were for. Also I got a bunch of cases and bullets for .22-250, which I don't have. (I would LOVE to have a Savage 99, but I'd rather it be .250-3000 or .300 Savage.)  There was a case of 12 gauge shotgun shells which touted the "New Plastic Hulls." There were 20 round boxes of .44 Magnum for under $5.00. I bought a couple of large shallow TupperTote boxes to put it all in, and put the lids on them, to keep the dust out.

--It never occurred to me to go visit the guy without taking my dad along. Those kind of treasure hunts are right up his alley.

--Now I'm the parent haranguing his 7th grade daughter into using her agenda planner every day to be organized about studying for tests and getting assignments in on time. I have to stay on her, or she won't use it. She protests that she's not organized. I answer that that is EXACTLY why she needs to use it. All the time.

--I'm wanting a new car for me. I'm thinking about a nice reliable used Tacoma 4dr pickup.

--This crappy low/no-carb diet of mine has caused me to lose a belt notch or two this past summer, and about 20 something pounds. I will grudgingly admit that the diet works. Eh.

--Some dudes are up on my house right now to put on a new roof. We're negotiating it into gutters as well. Getting excited about putting gutters on your house pretty much makes you an Old Man.

--Get your prostate checked. And donate to Kilted To Kick Cancer, which my buddy Ambulance Driver and others are raising money for.

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More coffee. The high-end stuff.

After my last post, Old NFO sent me a pound in two packages of Kona coffee. I reiterate: NOT "Kona Blend", but 100% Kona.

I have been making it in the French Press, with filtered water. I have shared it with my family but little.

My wife tilted her head and squinted and asked "Why are people sending you coffee?" I smiled and told her that it was because I'm such a big deal, which made her roll her eyes. In truth, I don't know why I'm blessed to receive such blessings, and I know that I don't really deserve such friends and friendly gestures.

[Raised cup] Here is to you, Old NFO. Until the next time that we can share a pot of coffee on the range or at our friends' place.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coffee in the round-about manner.

My wife and I went into Town to the large local pizzaria-and-bar, and sat with Dad and Holly and friends, to play trivia. It's fun, not least of all because our table pretty much always wins. It seems that our family and friends are frickin' huge repository of knowledge of questionable use. The restaurant is always full on Trivia Night, so there are a couple of dozen tables in play. I want to say that I think that I contributed one or two answers to our table's win, but I may have also negatively influenced some answers, too. 

Toward the end, Holly waved from the other end of the table and said that she and Dad had a package for me. The package was one sent to me care of Phlegmmy, who had transferred it to Dad and Holly, who held it for me to come by and pick up. 

Next day, I went to their house, and opened a box with three packages of coffee from The Roasterie, sent to me by ZerCool. I immediately ground some Kona, and Dad and I consumed a pot of it while discussing his new (to him) coach gun and his new (to him) S&W M27-2 (P.&R., natch).  

Now friends, I don't know what YOU did with your Wednesday, but an afternoon drinking fresh coffee, eating ripe peaches off the tree and talking guns with JPG happened to be exactly what this man needed. You are welcome to be a little jealous. 

That bag of Kona went fast, but I found that the Kansas City Dark Blend, ground fine, makes an excellent light espresso, and that the "40 Sardines" blend makes another good cuppa. 

I think that ZerCool sent that CARE package about 6 weeks ago, but it was timely-- I was out of coffee again. 

Thank you, brother. There is nothing more pleasurable than finding an unexpected gift in the post. 

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Multiple language barriers.

I speak a little Spanish. Not a lot, but I can usually get basic concepts across.
I do not know sign language, beyond one or two very simple phrases. I can't "get by" in it.

A few months ago, I had a traffic stop in which the driver, a Spanish speaker, was deaf.

My daughter had started drawing in my pocket notebook when she found it on the table while I was doing laundry. I found it in her possession, and confiscated it, because the contents are not her business. (Mostly data without actual connection to specific charges, but still, that's mine.) I found part of the conversation that I had had with the driver when I issued the citation, in the notebook, which I attach here:
It's interesting to me that if I knew sign language, it would cut across that language barrier.
It's handy having access to Google Translate in your patrol car, too.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

The unions. (Why I don't want to be part of them.)

So, today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released it's opinion on Harris v. Quinn.

The main question:
May a State, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the State for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs?
The question we thought that it would settle is whether a person could be compelled to pay union dues without joining the union, just because of the job that he or she held?

The pivotal case of precedent was Abood v. Detroit Board Of Education, which had affirmed that they could, saying that it was fine to require share payment of those in the public sector who benefitted from collective bargaining agreements. The thinking was, "Hey, you benefitted from this agreement that gets you better wages and benefits, so you better pay up and not be a freeloader."

It puts in mind that guy who signs the card on the gift that he did not contribute anything to. Well that's not right, is it??!? 

But to continue the analogy, consider the other employee who comes to you and says, "It's Bob's birthday. I bought him a new laptop. Everyone's chipping in $50. Cough it up." Well, that's not fair, either.  First, I like $50. I need my $50. Also, this creates dangerous precedent. What about when it's Maria's birthday? And Gordon's birthday?* Are we going to do this EVERY year? And you get to decide how much I chip in? Can't I just opt out and not sign the card? I'm just trying to work, here.

You'll note that the cases are in Detroit, MI, and Illinois, where unions are a big deal. I myself find it amazing that a person can be compelled to pay union dues, and be told that it's okay, because they don't have to actually join the union; they only have to subsidize it.

As it is, Abood didn't get fully overturned, because the Court didn't find that the petitioners (contract employees receiving state subsidies for home health care) were the best fit. They didn't have good enough standing. But Justice Alito made clear that he is rubbing his palms together to receive a case that fits the issue best. As well he should.

Unions have done some good things in this country. The ability to belong to a union is of course nothing that I dispute. But they have generally gone too far, and the law as it has stood under Abood v. Detroit B.O.E. has been nothing less than a state requirement to join and subsidize a union.

I see current unions as doing crazy things.  I know a local industrial manufacturer which employs union workers to make its trucks. Brand new employees with no more than high school diplomas can start working on the line at around $30 an hour, which sounds great... until they're laid off after a few months. When they get a big order, they recall the workers. There's no job continuity. If their union hadn't bargained so stiffly, these young men and women could keep $18/hour jobs (which is a living wage in Texas, I assure you), and not miss work.  

I am a cop. I regularly hear about how police unions make it next to impossible to fire a dirty cop. And, in some places, that's embarrassingly true. Regular readers here may recall how I pushed for a letter-writing campaign to have Officer Harless with the Canton, OH PD fired after his incident, after which his union actually temporarily won his job back for him

So excuse me if I don't particularly like unions. They make hard-working, honest employees look like lazy money-grabbers. They have hurt the reputation of my own profession, even while I work in a "Right To Work" state. It is jokingly stated that "Right To Work" really means "Right To Terminate," and there's some truth to that. I can be fired from my job pretty much any time. I don't have a union protecting me. Oh, I belong to the Texas Municipal Police Association, which provides me with legal insurance (I pay in monthly dues, and in exchange, I get a policy for up to a million bucks to pay for legit legal fees, in such instance as if I am sued), but that's not a union. I'm not entitled to my job or my badge. And I'm fine with that-- it means that I and my co-workers had best keep our walk on the straight and narrow.

I am embarrassed for public employees who feel otherwise.

*Or Big Bird's? Or Cookie Monster's?  Sorry. The names came at random.

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