Better And Better

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pogonip, again

16 degrees, heavy fog. The fog freezes, coating every thing with a hard, fuzzy crust.
Weird.

Supposed to be dangerous to breathe because of the damage that the airborne ice crystals can do to your lungs when inhaled, pogonips are pretty damned dangerous for other reasons. First off, getting to your car is an adventure. My hip aches a little where my Kimber Stainless Classic did a poor job of cushioning the iced pavement from my somewhat better-padded person. It took me 10 minutes to get the crystalline grey cobwebs off of my patrol car this morning. The light bar was unrecognizable. I had to bash the door several times to break the strangely organic-looking rime that sealed the driver's door shut. Visibility is a bitch, and people seem incapable of realizing that headlights are a MUST in heavy fog. You, in the grey Buick! You, sir or madam, should be horsewhipped for this morning's driving at 50 mph in 20 mph visibility, with no headlights on at 7:00 AM! It ain't the breathing that's the most dangerous part of a freezing fog.

Overtaking an unlighted car in the frozen soup makes for for hurried braking, on roads that can only be described as, um, interesting. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to explain what surfaces a pogonip will adhere to. The old standard of "elevated structures freeze first" doesn't necessarily follow.

This one lasted a long time. Odd spectacle.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pucker factor.

TXDOT and the local town sanding crews did a nice job of giving some traction during the Great Morning of North Texas Ice, 2009.

Lulls you into a sense of complacency, it does.

As I came off an exit prior to a flying overpass, I was late to discover that the offramp was elevated, and unsanded.

A lonnnnng period of skidding ensued, in which I began overtaking the minivan ahead of me.

I was in my patrol car, which has antilock brakes that instantly kicked in with their long groan, seemingly ineffectively. I dropped the automatic transmission down a gear, standing on the brakes, still impressed that the car was actually steering through the slight curve of the off-ramp.

The offramp was long; about 300 yards, with almost half of it elevated, or so it seemed.


I watched my distance to the minivan shrink to 50 yards, keenly aware of the downhill grade that would make the ramp unsafe at my now-unchecked highway speed, even without the ice. When that van hit unelevated ramp, I figured that it would slow much faster, and that I'd be toast. I heard very clearly the announcement of "Brace For Impact" in my head. Divider walls on each side made bailout impossible. I decided that I would try to use the divider wall to slow myself just as I would impact the other car. I edged left, staying squarely pointed ahead.


Finally, I noticed that I was slowing.


I matched speeds with the minivan, then slowed below its speed, and realized that we were both now on non-elevated off-ramp by this time. I kept on the brakes, to increase my following distance to over 50 yards, even at the now-crawling speed of about 8 mph. I then regularly tapped my brakes, to let everyone behind me know I was slowing dramatically. I didn't feel okay until I got to the intersection, with several lanes around me and numerous bailout destinations, should another car find himself sliding down that off-ramp. I tried to call to get that ramp sanded, but the line was busy three times. I gave up.

Although it was actually worse last night, when I was called out to an emergency, I was more prepared for that to be terrible (raining wet at 25 degrees makes you prepare for the worst. 2 hours at the hospital put half an inch of window-pane clear ice on my windshield), and had no problems.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

In the top ten.

I don't buy movies. In this day and age, I can punch one up on the NetFlix queue and have it at my door in two days, or if I really want it now, I can oftentimes stream it.

But when it comes to one's Top Ten, one considers keeping a small library of movies.

I just got done watching for the second time my new DVD of The Wind And The Lion. The soundtrack has been remastered, and watching it on the laptop with headphones has been most gratifying.

You've never seen it? A wonderful portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt by Brian Keith. A depiction of the turn-of-the century U.S. Marine Corps that will make you consider enlistment. A relatively respectful portrayal of the cheap life of the barbary pirates in Morroco in 1904 (with the Sultan Raisuli speaking with a Scottish accent. So? You would prefer perhaps that he spoke in the Berber tongue? I wouldn't.) Broomhandle mausers, Krags, 1895 Winchesters, bayonets against sabers and scimitars.

Damn, but it's satisfying. And at $8.00 new, it's cheap to buy.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

With all due caution.

Obama retook his oath of office. And rightly so.

See, when our new President was ascended sworn in on Tuesday, he stumbled, but repeated word-for-word, the oath issued by Chief Justice Roberts*.

Problem was, Roberts misspoke. And then so did Barack Obama.

The last paragraph of Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution spells out the Oath Of Office for the President Of The United States:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.''
What he SAID was:

"I, Barack Huessein Obama do solemnly swear that I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

And, while I recognize that the gist is the same, that's not what the document says he must say.
What is worrisome is that the White House Counsel pooh-poohed this fact:

Craig, the White House lawyer, said in a statement Wednesday evening: "We believe the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday."

Then the damned fool goes on to admit the obvious:

"Yet the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time."

First, Sparky, I count more than one word misused.

Second, if you're going to begin your career as White House Counsel by publicly contradicting yourself , you're going to be remembered as a buffoon. If the President isn't sworn in by the letter of the Constitution, then he's not constitutionally the President.

He would do well to remember that he is bound to follow that document to the letter. And, like our last president, he would do well to get some new legal counsel.

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*Edited to correct my own misspeak: Roberts administered the oath.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Iconic image fun.

I don't much post pics of myself on this blog, but I will, here:


Why should our President get to be the only one iconicized by a production artist?
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(BTW-- I don't know what they do with your info if you go there, so I just took a screen shot, and never gave them any contact information. Cropped it in Paint.)




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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You need hardly act surprised.

As usual, my good friend LawDog has managed to sum up my thoughts better than I could.

And I, too, will be eating some crow. But could you pass the Sriracha?

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ObamAscension

Bunkering down?

Nope. Moving in, more thoroughly.

The last of the stored crap is moved in. The storage unit is swept out. The attic is rough-decked, and I've blown in a bunch of pink stuff to make the house more cozy, by an extra R19. (Only fell through one time. Dammit. Now I've got to learn how to patch a dry wall ceiling.)

A bunch of crap that I don't need is going to the dump today.

Might as well; a bunch of other crap I don't need is appearing on a dais in DC today.

Dunno if I'll be watching; I haven't watched an inauguration since Reagan's second term.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Today's Earworm

"Reconsider Me," as performed by Steve Earl on Zevon's tribute album Enjoy Every Sandwich.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Team effort.

Yesterday, 155 passengers and crew all managed to live, after their skilled and calm pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, managed to set his Airbus A320 into the Hudson River when both engines choked on birds during climb out from LaGuardia Airport.

As good a job as Sullenberger did (he's probably the most celebrated man in the 5 boroughs tonight), he frankly was doing his job. What's impressive is how well everyone else did to pitch in and save his passengers, crew, and Sullenberger himself. Coast Guard vessels were there, lickety split. FDNY, the traditional heroes of New York, were on scene. And, too, there were commuter ferries that rushed to the scene, and participated effectively in rescue. Almost like they had been training to do that all along. *

Oh. Wait. They do train to do that. NYPD also showed up on scene, and rescued more than one person with their divers.

The water was 32 and a half degrees. The ambient air temp was 20 degrees. People waded through water that would crystalize but for that half a degree, and perhaps some brine from the sea. Thank Gawd for that half degree; this would have been pretty messy if there had been an inch of ice on the river.

Who else? Well, there were some pretty impressive design considerations that had to have come into play. Somewhere, there's a team of aeronautical engineers who are toasting each other, and rightly so. The plane floated long enough to get everyone out. That's amazing. Traditional logic for a long time was that these things sunk. The doors came open immediately upon landing. Design? Good crew training? Both? I don't know. But it saved lives to get people off the plane. Small rafts were deployed. Good job, there.

Those flight attendants are more than just waiters to serve you drinks and show you how to use an O2 mask. They used to be called "stewards," meaning, "one who attends to the needs of another." If they opened the doors, deployed rafts, and helped evacuate the plane, then they did exactly that, and apparently did it pretty well.

While everyone raises a glass to the pilot, remember to toast the other heroes and she-roes who went to work on the Hudson on January 15th, 2009. Damned good work, that.

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*Check out the doings of this ferry captain Brittany Catanzaro. Youngest ferry captain for New York Waterway (19 years old.) First female ferry captain on the Hudson. I think of what I was doing at 19, and I have to be pretty impressed. I wasn't given that kind of responsibility.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thanks for nothing!

Tamara is non-plussed about the weather that she's enjoying appreciating existing in, along with roomie and fellow gun-geek-chick 'BertaX up in Indianpolis. (Whudja expect? They don't serve grits and ham with every meal. That shoulda been a clue, kiddo.)


So what does she do? She sends it here.



Nice, pleasant, bright winter day? About to go bye-bye.

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Rule Four.

When Dad got back from Gunsight, Rule Four (the last rule added to the Four Rules Of Gun Safety) had been: "Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target." While at the range and training, my father and I could simply quietly mention a Rule 4 violation, and both knew to watch for fingers in trigger guards when they shouldn't have been. Nowadays, Rule Three and Rule Four seem to have been transposed.

So it would seem that a certain fellow out of Benbrook, TX did violate Rule Four when he fired off a round that didn't stay to his intended backstop:
RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET
Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing.
Another way of looking at it is a Rule Two violation, which has always been:

RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.
With a .50 Browning, that item that you wish not to destroy might be some miles off. Here is a case in which the old "laser rule" (or really, doctrine) doesn't work. To be wary of what is miles down range, one must take into account bullet drop. And wind. And maybe Coriolis force effect.

Look, I've said it before: Nobody's MAKING you possess, handle, and shoot a firearm. You're the one who took on the responsibility. If you can't handle the responsibility, I would invite you to stop handling firearms, post haste. There are plenty of other hobbies, past times, and pursuits for you to go about. With all due respect, if keeping up with Four Simple Rules is too hard, then we of the general shooting community don't want you.

No offense intended, but go away, okay?

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Natchez Shooters Supplies.

They rock. Good selection. Reasonable prices. Relatively easy online checkout. Good shipping.

That is all.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Double-edged sword.

I'm a believer in teens having cell phones. My daughters, when they get into their teens, will have 'em zip-tied to their wrists. New ones can dial only approved numbers. You can look up who they're calling, for how long, and when. You can look up their chats. Some, you can even get GPS-enabled.

But beware-- don't get your kiddo a new sexy cell phone, and think that you can cut off his or her Internet access by pulling the laptop from their room. I'm finding more and more underage kids hooking up with older kids/pervert adults, using their web browsers on their phones. These are NOT iPhones, people. This is 1999 technology.

You want to trust your kid? Awesome. Me too. But understand-- that useful tool that is the Internet browser on her useful tool that is her cell phone is a very, very sharp double-edged sword, that can leave quite a mark, if misused.

Just like the gun in my pocket right now-- it's nothing but a tool. But we have to respect tools, and we don't let kids play with them.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

When cute pandas attack.

Apparently, Gu Gu, a 240 pound giant panda in China, has managed to chomp on his third uninvited visitor into his enclosure.

In October, Gu Gu bit a teen intruder. And in 2007, he bit a drunken tourist who jumped into his pen and tried to hug him.


I'm thinking that the Chinese could probably find someplace else where such tourists can find bear-like creatures who would like to cuddle.


Officials at the Beijing Zoo are considering changes to keep visitors away from Gu Gu the panda.

Why bother? Sounds like he's having a great time, and is no worse for wear from it.

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In a more perfect world...

...Al Gore would be made to hand back in his Nobel Peace Prize, and it would be re-awarded to Luvine Holmes, the founder of the greatness that is Holmes Smokehouse Pecan Smoked Sausage. It's made of beef, which ought to assuage the pork-hating cultures, and bring this world together. (At least until they see what the casing is made of.)

Please note the first two ingredients in this only slightly modified photo of the packaging:

It has texture, but not too much. It's frickin' incredible. And the jalapeƱo version is even better. At the very least, Obama needs to be penciling in a Rose Garden presentation of a Medal Of Freedom to Holmes by about January 23rd. You know, after he's settled in and all.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So I've got this cool washing machine.

It's a Whirlpool Duet front-loader. It has more controls than an Apollo command module. I've wanted one for awhile, and after we went through two used washers just since moving into this house (one, we had bought used 5 years ago and it finally died. The other, we bought used at an auction, and it died before the first load was through.), we just went out and bought one, right before Christmas.
We shopped around, played the stores off each other, and got it deeply discounted at Lowe's, with no interest, no payments for a year. They delivered, installed it, and even carted off the other two washers. All well and good. Yes, I'm paying for this service, but not very much, and it's my first new washing machine that I've ever had, in the history of ever. You're damned right, I bought the extended warranty.

So back to what this thing can do-- it centrifuges your clothes dry at 1050 rpm. If you have someone take sick in the house, it has an on-board water heater that will kick your house hot water up to 165 degrees farenheit. It will tell you, at any given moment in the cycle, exactly how many minutes it has left to finish. It will throw in an extra rinse, if that's your game. It will give you different chimes to tell you the cycle it's on, or not. It will let you adjust the volume for same. It uses half the normal amount of detergent, and less than half the normal amount of water. It makes your drying time take about half as long. And, with it up on the wooden home-made pedistal (I'm not paying $120 for their store-bought one.), I can move clothes from the washer to the dryer all in the same motion, with everything on the same plane of interface.
The very observant reader and picture-viewer will be able to detect just how proud of this thing I was, when I first got it.* It seemingly could do anything.
What it will NOT do, is run without power. When the ~40 year-old electrical outlet, which has held a plug in its teeth for probably all but one of those years, decides that it has no spring tension left in it, it drops the electrical cord right out of itself. This can somewhat interfere with one's getting-ready routine, when one can't even open the sealed door to the washing machine that has stopped mid-cycle. I tried three times before jumping the cord to another outlet.
Bah. Time to replace all of the house electrical outlets. Snarl.
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*Note the date of the pictures. 3 weeks ago. The plug hadn't given up the ghost yet, but I was some freakish fellow, taking pictures of his washing machine. What? Was I going to put them in my wallet??!?

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dallas Gun Show

A buddy on leave from his job as an armourer for the Army came though town and wanted to go to the gun show on Saturday. I explained that I had to work that evening, and had to be back in town. He said that would be fine-- he just wanted to pick up some AR receivers.

We drove and drove to get to Dallas Market Hall, and were astonished by what we found: a line about 200 yards long to get in!

My friend said, "Maybe they're wanding everyone who's entering." Dad and I kind of looked at him askance, seeing as how almost everyone walking in had a pistol, bayonet, rifle, pistol, lock blade, hatchet, spear, or whatnot.

We found a parking space, and stood in line for about half an hour. Actually, the line was moving pretty quickly-- it was just that the press to get in was enormous. They were taking our money and zip-tying guns as fast as they could, to get us in. The crowd inside made the ginormous Market Center Hall feel cramped and difficult to walk into.

In all my lifetime of going to gun shows, I've never seen it like this. EVER. This is a direct response to Bary O' being elected in November.

My buddy went off in search of AR recievers. He'd bought his last ones a few months ago for $120. He came back with ONE Rock River receiver and parts for it that he found for $225, and counted himself lucky to get the last one on the table.

I priced some Webleys, but found that it was just too busy to browse. I vaccilated on buying some Crimson Trace stocks for my J Frame and my KelTec BUGs, but let that go, too.

From the good folks at Blue Star, I bought 200 unfired .38 S&W cases, and 200 hard-cast 158g LSWC .357 bullets, for my project of getting my friend Bill to come shoot plate matches with his Webley.

I bought a dental tool, some hemostats, and some tweezers for gun-cleaning.

And then we rounded up and headed out. Felt kind of lame, actually. My bag couldn't have weighed 10 pounds heavier than when I entered. Heck, I've seen times that I regretted not bringing a frame pack and a wagon in with me.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hugs.

Boys seem to be hugging more than I remember. More than I'm used to, actually.

Not that this is a bad thing.

When I was a kid, a boy hugged his mother, his female relatives, and his dad on special occasions. Girls hugged whoever they wanted, I guess.

For the last few years, I've noticed that it's common for high school and even college-aged boys to give a quick hug when they meet. These hugs are clearly just good fraternal hugs-- I'm not trying to say that there's a creeping androgyny going on-- but they absolutely are unlike anything that occurred in the culture that I grew up in, just 20 years ago.

I'm pretty sure that I've hugged my best friend just twice in the quarter century-plus that we've been best friends, and on both of those occasions, one or both of us had tears in his eyes.

As a police officer, I've noticed that some kids will hug a cop, whom they've met but rarely. As an adult male, I'm reluctant to hug even a little girl. As a man in uniform, I think I'm doubly self-conscious of being hugged. It's sweet. But, you know. I'm not the daddy.

More awkward is the boy who spontaneously hugs me. And the older he gets, the more awkward. Today I had an eleven year old boy walk up to me and hug me before reminding me that we had met once, a year ago. I didn't know what to say, or do with my hands. He was a sweet kid, but. . . at eleven years of age, I was hunting with my dad, and trying to get a kiss from the neighbor girl, and... I don't know-- Hugging the neighborhood cop just out of the blue would NOT have occurred to me. The instance when I met him was in no way traumatic or life-altering, any more than a visit with a grocery clerk would have been so.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Box-killing.

While selling the old house, we rented a storage unit to put most of stuff in while we staged, so that the house would sell faster, looking empty and clean. It worked; we sold it to the very first person who looked at it. (We had priced it low for quick sell, but good heavens! List on Tuesday night, sell on Wednesday morning?) We boxed up a lot of stuff that we could temporarily live without, and put it in a 10' x 14' storage unit.

A month or two later, when we moved out, we rented a second storage unit to put more stuff that we could "temporarily do without," while we lived in a small rent house for a month or so to look for another house to buy.

Well, "a month or so" turned into 14 months or so. Finally, we got this old house renovated, and moved in. We settled.

But those two storage units, 35 miles away, had to be unloaded. The price per month that we paid for them stuck in my craw like you couldn't believe. Stupid. I had become That Guy. The guy who pays to store junk.

How could it be anything but junk? We have successfully lived for 16 months without it.

On my day off, I rented a truck the other day at the last minute, dropped my kids off at my mother's place, and went to clean out a storage unit. My wife, surprised that I had overcome my sloth, drove out from work to help. We got one cleaned out in the dark. (Note to storage unit purveyors-- I would gladly pay $10 a month more, if you would make lights an option in your storage units.) We picked up the kids, drove home, showered off the dust, and went to bed. The next morning, my wife went to work, while the kids (off from school) and I went about unloading the truck. Surprisingly, it took LONGER to unload than to load, which is usually not the case. Part of the reason was that my wife wasn't there to help. Part of the reason was that I had to find a task for my helpful 6 year-old at all times, even though she couldn't be trusted to carry heavy things. Most of my stuff seems to be heavy things.

Finally, realizing that we were short of time if we wanted to get the truck turned in in time (after a trip to the dump) to avoid a second day's rental, we just started loading boxes in a pile in the sun room. I hate doing this, preferring to send items to the area that they will belong-- storage shed, garage, studio, kitchen-- whatever.

That pile of boxes yet looms. My family headed out of town for a huge New Year's party down in Austin, and I've been baching it. I know that I'm supposed to say that I'm lonely and miss my family and all, but for a couple of days, it's nice being alone in the house. I come in from work, drop my gun belt on the couch, have a coffee in my underwear in the sun room in the morning, and no one cares.

But that pile remains. And it's bothering me. And I know that I'll catch hell if I haven't reduced it before my wife returns. (And rightly so.)

So I engage in an activity I like to call "Box-Killing." Boxes are good for temporary storage, or for moving things, but they suck for storing things that you use. Items that get stored in cardboard boxes tend to not get used, and just gather dust, making you wonder why you keep them at all. I unload the boxes to cabinets, chests, shelves, etc, and then smash the cardboard box, a vanquished foe, to send out with the garbage. It's the only way I can make such a task fun. So far, I've found some reference books that I've really missed (Note: Matt G's house will from now on have only reference books, books currently being read, or library books in it. The occasional super-classic will be the exception that proves this rule.), and some tools that I've really wanted.

Just a little bit like a late Christmas.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Resolution. I've got a plan.


It involves shedding 1/6 of my mass.
And not talking about it.
Because honestly? Nobody wants to read a diet blog.

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