Better And Better

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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I never thought I'd see the day...

...when I would shrug and willingly purchase .22 ammunition by mail, taking the beating on shipping.

But with the prices and selection Natchez Shooting Supplies is offering, and what with the way even .22 LR ammo has been drying up off the shelves of the very limited number of stores selling it in my area, it actually seemed worth ordering a coupla thousand rounds of varying types, and typing in my credit card number.

I also ordered a Safariland Comp 1 5-shot speedloader, to see if they're worth messin' with.

The last two times I went to buy ammo locally, I had to go to the Pit Of Despair, and I'll pay a few bucks to offset that experience again. Seriously. Here, I didn't have to get out of my chair, kept slurping coffee out of my favorite china cup, and remained barefoot. That's worth something to me.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

5-Shot Revolver + Speed Strips + Pistol Match

= Slowest El Presidente evar.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Reload. . .
Bang.
Reload. . .
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Reload. . .
Bang.

I'm pretty sure I heard the scribe ask the timekeeper afterward what date we had started on.

:)

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Chutzpah

As sicky as I've been feeling (I'm going through our house's stocks of tea, and regretting not having visited the clinic this afternoon.), I'd better post this now, to make myself try to go:

Tomorrow, I plan to shoot the local inter-departmental police tactical match with my 2" Airweight Chief Special M37 .38 Special, if they'll let me.

They may very well not let me-- it's supposed to be a "duty gun" match, in which you shoot what you carry on duty. But I've carried this beat-up old airweight to classes, meetings, training sessions, administrative duties, etc, on duty, for years. I've carried that gun both as a backup and as an off-duty gun for years. I've qualified with it for two different departments, many times. Just this Tuesday, I wore it openly with badge-on-belt, with slacks and polo shirt, to an SFST update class all day, before dropping it into my pocket without a holster and with the badge put away that night, for my graduate classes at university.

I've got a few speed loaders and some speed strips for it, and a hundred or so 158g LSWC rounds. We'll see how I do against all those guys carrying their full-sized duty guns, which include some higher-end 1911s in the hosting PD. Seeing as how some stages will require multiple reloads for duty guns, this could get interesting for a 5-shot revolver. Then, too, there's the accuracy portion of the match, which usually requires 6 shots, reload, 6 shots in one minute, at 20 yards. (That one, I think, I can do fairly well at. This old revolver, even though it's a 2 inch, has some accuracy left in it, if I do my part.)

But it's going to be cold in the morning, and I'm sicky, and will have just gotten off duty. :(

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Intrastate weather disparity.

Am I the only one who thinks that it's cool that, while there's a declared blizzard warning in effect in 21 degree Amarillo, TX, it's 88 degrees in Laredo, TX? (Oh, I'm sorry-- 90 degrees.)

At 101 degrees, I'm not sure that I even believe Harlingen's weather report. Crazy.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go cover the damned tomatoes.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pea soup

Pretty thick fog out there. Lots of rain, then cold.

This was taken from a relatively high spot, where it wasn't so bad.

In other news, I feel sicky. My wife asked me why I didn't call in. "Well, if I call in sick, someone else has to come in to cover for me. And if I'm going to feel like garbage, I might as well get paid for it," I responded.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Take my love, take my land...

...take my space station's new tin can.

NASA's newest addition to the International Space Station will be named "Cobert," because the "Cobert Report" television comedian's fictional host asked his viewers to vote him in, in write-ins.

They wrote his name in, all right. They did it 230,539 times, which beat out the next-highest choice, which was a non-write-in choice of "Serenity."

Well, I like Serenity better, obviously, but maybe we could get something a little bigger named for her. Say, the first iteration of interplanetary cargo shuttle.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bad day at the office.

I'm going to just go out on a limb, reading this article about the three officers killed (and one critically wounded) in Oakland, CA, and declare that community-police relations are not what they should be.

People lingered at the scene of the first shooting. About 20 bystanders taunted police.
Tension between police and the community has risen steadily since the fatal shooting of unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant by a transit police officer at an Oakland train station on Jan. 1.
That former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, Johannes Mehserle, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday. Violent protests erupted on the streets of Oakland in the weeks after Grant's death, further inflaming tensions.


I know that Community Oriented Police is supposed to be all touchy-feelie stuff that violates the principles of good old basic policing, but it would seem that the second of Sir Robert Peel's Principles is being tested, here:

"The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions."

I feel for those officers. I can imagine the rage of the officers that were working the scene of the death and serious wounding of their brother officers, when the citizenry came out to taunt them. The community there is in trouble, and so are the officers.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

When I die.

I went to a funeral.
Lord, it made me happy,
Seein' all those people
That I ain't seen
Since the last time
Somebody died.

Lyle Lovett
Joshua Judges Ruth

___________

I was driving around the local cemetery, as I do sometimes at night on patrol. I saw the graves of some strangers, some friends, some heroes, and some well-met persons that I'll never get to meet. I don't patrol the cemetery to commiserate with the dead, but to prevent that same sickening feeling I felt when, a few years back, I found the damage wrought by vandals in a cemetery, on my shift. I'd like to have a little chat with such people.

As I drove through the cemetery, I thought yet again that it's an eerie trend that has arisen lately in rural graveyards, to put solar-powered LED lamps around the grave. As you drive by, you see little lights twinkling among the stones. The twinkle is caused by the occlusion of their view, by nearer stones as I move past. I've hit my brakes more than a few times when driving by.

Don't do that to me, when I die. Just don't.
Come to think of it, I've got a little list of things that I want when I die.

--Harvest any organs that they'll take. If they want 'em, let 'em have 'em. I don't care if they want to bleach my skull to make a paper weight for the dean's office; let me be of use.

--Because I know that they won't let my body be ground up and spread over croplands like in Burgess' The Wanting Seed, I want what remains that they didn't harvest burnt. While the Viking funeral appeals, let's just simplify things and agree to throw my mortal coils into a kiln, turn the thing on High, and y'all can step out for a tall beer or four. But I insist that I be burned, and no marker be placed. I'll be damned if I'm going to be so arrogant as to take up a 4' X 7' X 6' portion of this planet, with a marker that has to be mowed around, even after my death.

--Ashes? Well, I've got places that I like, and they're known to those that know and love me. The Big Bend. Guadalupe Ntl. Park. Kit Carson Ntl. Forest. Chuck 'em out there. All at once or in piecemeal; I don't care. But they better be gone, completely, within 6 months. No hoarding remains-- that's just creepy.

--I demand a wake. I would like my favorite restaurant rented out a week after my passing, with adequate notice given to all that gave a damn about me. I want the food pre-paid, catered well, and good, with lots of flavor. If you want bland, bring your own. I want the waitstaff''s tips taken care of in advance, and lavishly. I want cases of good wine and beer present. I want bottles of good scotch and bourbon present. I want those bottles sent home with loved ones the same way bouquets sometimes go home with them from weddings and funerals. I expect that happy stories be told among my friends, and I expect that there be some laughter. While it may be turned down for the occasional toast, I expect music to be playing during my wake. Hell, dance if you want-- I'd rather you did. Have a good time, because that's what I want. Do NOT sit around all long-faced. But if you have to do so, then the bourbon and scotch are in the corner. My remains are NOT to attend my wake.

--If there is to be a funeral, I would like a decent piper to play. If you can't find a decent one, don't bother. Few things are worse than suffering through "Scotland The Brave" or "Amazing Grace," when squeaked out by a beginner with a borrowed skirt and a new set of war pipes or GHB pipes. Ugh.

--I do NOT want some blowhard cleric type to perform a eulogy at my funeral. Come to think of it, pastors, ministers, evangelicals, rabis, witch doctors, and other such "spiritual leaders" are forbidden from speaking at my funeral, except as friends, if they were such. I'm serious about this one.

--As I will be cremated, my family is forbidden from purchasing a casket for me. A sack or a cardboard box will transport my body into the furnace quite nicely.

--I don't want people sugar-coating it. I've been a bastard at times, and we all know it. Pretending I haven't dishonors the good memories, as well.
_ _ _

I've got no plans to kick it any time soon, friends. But when I do, remind my family of this blog, would you? There's a pal. :)

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Visual Thursday

For our first nifty view, please see art made with flocks of sheep, crazy shepherds, and very, very well-trained dogs. Simply awesome, and totally worth calling your kids over to see.

For our second site, I must caution you that a few of the pictures are possibly NSFW, and merit review before calling the kids over. In my house, they came running when they heard the hysterical laughter. The site, probably known to many of you, is Picture Is Unrelated, in which they have compiled an impressive growing collection of those odd photos that you sometimes find, where the subject does not match the background. Be sure and page through their archives, and read both the headings and the captions, which make the site. Made of win.

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"I want you to LEAVE, now!"

I got told that again, this last shift. As a libertarian peace officer being told this by a person whom I know to be a resident of that location, my first consideration is whether I can accommodate this citizen's demand in good conscience. Does my duty entitle me to remain, when I have been told to leave? Does my duty actually require me to remain?

In this case, the report was of a family violence call, and I felt that my duty was to interview the family members individually, away from each other, before leaving. I separated them, to the irritation of the unctuous male. The female, alone and away from the male, lied to me said that everything was okay, and that they were just talking. I found no evidence of physical contact, and had no witness that was willing to give their name, and at this point withdrew. The male seemed surprised at my departure, because I had spoken rather firmly to him upon my arrival.

My backup officer told me later that the male (with whom I had conducted business before) had called me everything but Father Christmas, and had gone on about me being a dirty cop, who brought dishonor upon the badges of my peers.

[Sigh.] Another dissatisfied customer.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More proof that money doesn't buy happiness...

...it just buys the THINGS that make us happy.

About a week ago, I remarked to my wife that our second-hand, 11 year-old mattress was just about worn out. I had been waking up with some knots in my back, and was noting that I had to climb up out of the trough in my side of the bed, and up from the rather low bed edge (20" off the floor, by my tape.).

We started talking about how to finance a bed. Local place had a deal for no interest, no payments for a year, or even two years, if you spent enough. We began talking about it, in a leisurely fashion. Beds cost several hundred dollars, and in my house, such purchases are not made without due consideration.

Then, this Saturday, my wife said, "Uh, honey...? Come look at this." My wife, a week before, had bought a Texas Lottery scratch-off, on a lark. We both consider lottery tickets and scratch-off tickets to be a voluntary tax for people who are bad at math, but we also both agree with Robert A. Heinlein when he said, "Of course the game is rigged. But don't let that stop you. If you don't bet, you can't win." Last year I think I bought a single lotto ticket, and my wife estimates that she bought $16 worth. I believe her; I've NEVER seen any evidence of her purchasing them. No crumpled up tickets or scratched cards in the trash or in her purse, or in her car. I've seen her once or maybe twice buy one with a soft drink at a convenience store, to swap turns scraping off the silver coatings from the hidden numbers. Purely for occasional entertainment, and nothing else.

Well, this ticket had a set up where "three of a kind for each hand wins." There were four hands of 5 playing cards, and each hand had a dollar amount next to it. My bride presented me with a card with 3 of a kind in all four hands, and the combined amount was... $2000!!!

I said, "Bull! We're mis-reading this." I read the fine print, front and back.

Then I questioned the card's authenticity.

Finally, we saddled up and bought us a Sealy AirSpring pillowtop mattress with box springs, delivered, with old-bed haul-away. It arrived Sunday afternoon. We sprung for the non-crinkly, breathy kind of dust mite cover, and a memory foam pillow for me.

My wife collected the very real check for Two Thousand Dollars & 00/100's from the local Texas Lottery Commission place today, and declined to have her picture taken by an annoyed clerk, who told her, "If privacy is a concern for you, then next time buy your ticket in another town." Yeah. Will do, chief.

It's our first-ever brand-new bed.

After my second sleep on this bed, I can categorically report that this is the best purchase that we've ever made for us as a couple. And the leftover cash paid for the last of our superwasher.

The lesson here? Well, I don't know if there is one, other than that a new bed brings good sleep, and good sleep makes Matt a happy man.

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Haiku #13: Mother In-Law's Visit

BoldShe's here for four days
"Organizing" our whole house.
Bitch moved my coffee.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ultimate freedom.

A friend of mine took his life this week.

He was in his mid-thirties. No one really realized that he was in that place.

Very few people that I've talked to about this seem to share my belief that it was his life to take, if he so chose.

Look, I think suicide is selfish, sure. But we all do selfish things every day, don't we? We order pizza instead of opening a can of generic beans and a can of corn. We pay extra for a car with air conditioning. We get higher thread count sheets because, dammit, it feels good. My obsession with better beverages (coffee, beer, and scotch) is almost legendary. We are selfish beings. That's not inhuman. In fact, it's the very essence of living a human life. And part of one's life is one's death.

We all have a debt to pay. No one escapes. How and when you pay it is ultimately your decision.

If I can't die peaceably in my bed at a very advanced age with a recently-finished book at my bedside, then I hope to die falling toward my vanquished foe. But I will ultimately make decisions about the manner and the timing of my death.

Don't be too quick to judge those who gave it all up. It was theirs first. As long as they don't endanger others with their actions, and don't shirk real responsibilities, then I'm okay with it, I guess, on a personal level.

Professionally, of course, I will do my duty to attempt to stop suicide when I can. That's the job.

My friend was single and had no kids. We remember his life this week. I'm sorry I didn't know that he was in such need. I would certainly have tried to help him.

But I'll respect his decision. I won't grieve that. I'll grieve that he got in the well that he felt he couldn't climb out of.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tools at your disposal.

While dealing with an estranged married couple that kept sending texts to each other in which they alluded to threats of suicide recently, I found myself wishing that I had John Shirley and a swiming pool handy.

If you're using suicide as a tool to get your loved one's attention, then you are a manipulative, emotional bully, no matter how meek you may otherwise be.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sneaking out.

I've been dealing with kids sneaking out a lot, lately.

The simple act of sneaking out doesn't bother me very much. I did it all the time, as a teen. I never smoked dope or such, and usually wasn't very successful in amorous attempts. (Thwarted by loud dogs on one occasion, by a conscience that said she didn't seem enthusiastic and/or mature enough another.) But I probably should assume the worst, because frankly, most kids don't have even the basic impulse control that I had.

I'm finding that very young teenaged girls will go to amazing lengths to sneak out. They will meet up on cell phones. They will meet up on websites like Tagged.com (shudder). They will meet up on social networking sites like MySpace. They will bring home prepaid cell phones that their parents have no idea that they have. They will make arrangements at school, then carry them out after lights-out. They will walk. They will bicycle. They will steal the family car. The drive to expose your gametes to their opposite number is very, very strong, between the ages of 12 and 25.

I've caught teens lying on the grass behind a south-facing market, having sex without so much as a blanket or a coat, as a bitter 20 mph wind blew in a 30 degree norther. No condom, no fears, and neither could recall the others' last name.

Conversely, I've caught teens camping in tents that they erected in the back yard of their paramours for that "special" night with someone they'd just met.

I've caught teens feeling each other up on neighborhood playgrounds, in full view of the street. I've caught girls taking their date to the school dance around to a dark corner behind the school, where I found them on their knees and unzipping their dates' trousers as I rounded the corner.

I say this not out of amazement, or disgust with "how it's gotten to," but just in acknowledgement of how hard the task is, to rear kids that can make it to full adulthood without becoming parents or infected with a disease, first. The tools to meet others are very powerful, these days. Our ability to contain kids is much harder, with so many leaks in the security system.

I'm looking into the cost of wiring my house for an un-monitored alarm system, that will chime in the master bedroom whenever a window or exterior door is opened.

I'm also considering printing and framing select blown-up poster-sized photos of the most egregious examples of advanced venereal warts, and mounting them on my daughters' walls.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Huh. I hadn't noticed.

At some point yesterday morning, this site broke a quarter million page visits.

This isn't rock star status, but it means that my scribblings have probably distracted enough people to fill a small city council meeting room.

Maybe even a library board luncheon. :)

Thanks for reading, friends. After over 850 posts, I'm still not quite sure why I type these. But I appreciate your dropping in to check them out. Every once in a while, I think I manage to put up something of value. What's fascinating to me is the disparity between what one person thinks is valuable and the other person considers boring.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

No pride there.

We just got our tax return back, and it was over $2000. We paid off our interest-free deferred-payment debt on the stone, ceramic, and bamboo that we had bought for the house while renovating. We had 6 more months to do it in, but we don't like having debt out there, so we just paid it.

I'm not particularly proud of this, because I know that I lost a little money in the deal.

Dollars half a year from now will be worth less than dollars today do. Getting those already-discounted materials on interest-free credit for a year meant that we were essentially getting to discount the cost (well, the value of the cost) still further.

That $2k that I got back from Uncle Sugar was an interest-free loan that I made for most of a year. If I had calculated a little more carefully, I could have gone without making that loan. But, in truth, I probably wouldn't have saved it, and that depresses me. And while I could have taken it and invested it to bring a few dollars in interest before paying off the materials debt, I'm lazy enough that I frankly just would rather not worry about it, and would rather pay it off. And that depresses me.

To me, any time that I get a large tax return check, I feel like I'm a big sucker. But I still deposit it and utilize it. Yes, I do.

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Clamshell holsters.

Among the stupider inventions that I've seen for toting a handgun around is the clamshell holster. When I mentioned that Season 3 of Adam-12 presented "the silliest floppy pivot holsters you've ever seen," I wasn't slamming articulated drop holsters as a whole-- just the ones these guys (and presumably all of LAPD, given the fervent attention to detail that Jack Webb put into his procedurals) had to carry. When you have to carry a full-sized revolver openly in uniform, a pivot is a mighty handy way to carry it in a drop holster format, so that it's fast to draw, but still easy to sit down with. None too concealable, but in uniform, that's not a concern.
Having never used such a contraption personally, I can say by looking at them that the problems with these clam shell holsters appear to be rife.

First and foremost, they pretty much demanded two hands or a lot more attention than should be necessary to re-holster. Friends, I'll tell you right now that being able to reholster one-handed and without unnecessarily-divided attention is one of the most important practical gun-related skills of police work. Smoothly securing your sidearm and efficiently bringing both hands to bear on the person whom you'd previously felt needed a gun pointed at is a skill that can keep a touchy transition from Going Badly Quickly.

Secondly, they flop so much that they seem to require two hands to open on occasion, and indeed that happens here, as demonstrated by Officer Reed*:




Officer Malloy, on the right, seems capable of drawing his revolver one-handed.
Note, too, that the spring-loaded clamshells spring open on hinges in the back. If the latch comes undone, the holster drops your gun on the ground. In most holsters, if the retention strap breaks, you can still carry your gun in it. These guys would have to put their gun in their pockets. Note how the holster, when the gun is drawn, is twice as big, and flops on one's hip like a stringer of fish.
Now, it's true that the holster protected the revolver from the elements, and covered the trigger guard. But... Elements? It was El Lay! They have the most consistently decent weather in the country!
Dumb. Somewhere, about the time I was born, a brass hat with LAPD made a goofball decision when those were ordered. I wonder how long they lasted?
__________________________________
*9:00 minutes in.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Bed and breakfast.

  • I've always heard from other guys that these B&B places were a beating. And what do I know? I'd been to one exactly ONCE before, on my wedding night, and that was only courtesy of my best friend and his wife. That B&B was nice, but I was at the time a little irritated to have to leave the best party that I'd ever been to, to go to it, with rice still in my hair. I had threatened to change clothes and go back, but was told that it simply Wasn't Done.

    On that first occasion, after certain basic formalities of nuptuality were attended to, we didn't have much to do but watch some TV. Rowan Atkinson had a decent wordless physical comedy routine that we laughed out, and we turned in fairly early.

    That next morning, we awoke on the first new morning as a married couple to a quiet knock at the door. In the hallway outside the door we found a tray with great huge banana chocolate muffins and a coffee service on it. We went downstairs an hour later for strada and friendly conversation, before going home to my house.

    I hadn't paid for it, but had generally enjoyed myself.

    This weekend, we celebrated the 11th anniversary of my marriage, and I arranged for my parents to watch my kids. I then surprised my wife with a trip to Big City and a downtown B&B. After checking in, my wife and I went and had the most marvelous lobster bisque at a restaurant that I like, before raiding a bookstore, catching a movie, hitting the bookstore again, and having a late supper. We got back to the Bed & Breakfast shortly before midnight.

    The next morning, we went refreshed to the dining room, where we had a savory strada and some frickin' INCREDIBLE fresh apple muffins.

    Conclusions?

    --Bed and Breakfasts are NOT a beating. It's a combination of my two favorite things. Seriously, throw in "long-range plinking with large-bore pistols," and you'd have the trifecta.
    --Strada is a standard at these places, evidently, both in sweet and savory formats.
    --Muffins are way better within the walls of a B&B. You simply will never eat a better muffin, anywhere. I expect to have loving dreams about those muffins.
    --Plan your entertainment, and have it nearby, for the evening before, and the day after.

    I doubt that we'll wait another 11 years (to the day!) to patronize another one.

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