Better And Better

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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Practicing like we play (?)

I shot the local law enforcement pistol/carbine match this weekend. This is held at a small-ish outdoor range, and when each shooter shoots a stage of the match, he is the sole shooter.

Shooting my P.D. carbine, I went to a stage where I was to run hard to a square, fire three shots from week hand, move up to another square and do it again, and move to another square and do it again.

I got to the second square, and found that my cheap oversized ear muffs were interfering with my cheek weld with my stock, so that I couldn't see my carbine sights. This stage allowed no "make-up" shots for misses, and misses were 5 seconds apiece. The clock was ticking. I angrily knocked off the muffs so that they clattered to the ground, and fired...

"Cease fire! Cease fire!" yelled the range officer. I complied, and made the Colt M4 safe. I had gotten one shot off before he hollered. "No shooting without ear protection at this range."

"Am I DQ'd for this stage?" I asked.

"Yes. You can shoot the next stage, with ear protection. But you are disqualified from this stage," he said.

"Okay," I said. You don't argue with the range master. It's his range.

But I've got to admit, it seemed pretty danged silly to punish me so for failing to be muffed against the outdoor report from my suppressed carbine, which was so quiet that on the previous stage the timer hadn't heard my shots.

I'm going to start keeping cheapy yellow foam plugs in my carbine kit, from now on.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

A fire extinguisher in every lawn shed...

It's springtime, and my lawn has erupted with every kind of grass, weed, flower, bush, and vine. There are neat little rectangles of dark green where the rolling chicken coop has been and where I have spread rye/bluegrass/fescue blend seed behind. There's a fair bit of Bermuda, and more dallisgrass (a.k.a. crab grass) than I care to admit. Also, there are the nettles and dandelions.

When I was a little kid, I loved dandelions. Their flower was a happy yellow, and their puffballs were fun to blow. Now, as the guy who mows the lawn, their puffballs irritate me. They send up their puffballs the day after I mow, making my otherwise decently-trimmed lawn look raggedy. It's really quite amazing how fast they go up. And my mulching lawnmower does nothing to kill the seeds; it just plants them right there in a dense pattern.

I'm not much one for weed killing chemicals in my lawn. But I like fire.

Enter the Dragon. No, you Bruce Lee fans, not that silly movie-- I'm basically talking flame-thrower, here. The dragon is a nifty device that attaches to a standard 20 lb propane tank, and shoots out a 3 foot blue flame on demand. It's loud, and scares the neighbors. Fired at weeds, it fries them down to the roots, leaving nice ash to nourish the new grass seed that you then throw down. Organic as hell. Fun. Fire. What's not to like?

The kids, playing in the yard, each wanted a turn. And who am I to deny them this fun? They shot some undesireable plants, and went back to the trampoline. I kept at the weeds. While I went about the yard spraying blue flame at pesky weeds, I found a poison ivy vine growing up near the fence. I'm highly allergic, and my wife is allergic to everything, so I saw this as a nice time to really fry a dreaded enemy. I let it have it. I gave it an extra squirt of burning propane, just to make sure the roots didn't come back. I moved on to other parts of the yard.

About 20 minutes later, I found the garden hose stretched across the yard. I pulled it to the hydrant to be coiled, and found that it was just running. Well, that was odd. Why was it just running in the yard? I grumbled about wasted water and the kids, and moved on. Then I found what the hose had been watering: The fence. Seems that I had gotten a bit carried away, burning that poison ivy bush. The fence was wet and charred around a new hole at the base, next to the dead poison ivy bush.

I worried. Had my neighbor seen his fence burning, and run over to run the hose to put it out before passive-aggressively leaving it running as he stalked away? Oof. Not good for neighbor relations.

I went inside and polled the house. My wife assured me that she hadn't used the hose. My 11 year old daughter said that she had not used the hose. I found my younger daughter watching SpongeBob Squarepants, and asked her about the hose.

She gave me half her attention. "What? Used the hose? No." She went back to watching cartoons for a second before turning back to me. "Oh yeah. I forgot. I noticed that the fence was on fire, so I put it out. Did I forget to turn off the hose, Daddy?"

"Uh, yeah. Hey, kid-- good job on the fire-fighting, but you might tell your daddy when you've done so, you know?"

"Okay, Daddy," she said, and went back to watching SpongeBob and Patrick Starfish torture Squidward.

I'm proud of my just-turned-8-year-old little girl, but kind of amused at her nonchalance at her actions. This could have become a Big Deal. As it was, I just replaced two fence stakes the next day. Took me 10 minutes, tops.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

That which interferes

This last week has been Drunk Week. Three DWIs and one P.I. in four shifts. The paperwork for a DWI can be routine, but fairly involved. In such circumstances, an open-and-shut DWI can be a pretty high likelihood of a conviction, with a medium likelihood of going to court. I like to push the detail of the report a bit further, to get a very high probability of conviction, with a low chance of having to go to court. I don't want the D.A. to have to wonder about a detail; it should be in there.

The people I mostly have to convince are with the District Attorney's office. They'll cop a plea with the good cases, and throw out the mediocre ones altogether. A lot of them seem to think that a case without a specimen of blood or breath is a bad case. This could be true, but isn't necessarily so. I don't make the arrest to ask for breath or blood, without having had probable cause to arrest in the first place.

None of the DWIs from this past week blew or gave blood. I didn't get a blood draw warrant for them. I didn't need one. They were drunk, and this was apparent to me without a chemical test to prove it. It will be apparent to anyone who reads the report and watches my mobile video. Not only the things that they said, but how they said them, indicate to a casual observer that these people were drunk. But I can't put a number on their levels. I know that all of them were over 0.10 BAC, but can't articulate how much over. Fortunately, I don't have to. Actually, the prima faciae level for intoxication is 0.08, but I know these folks were higher. (I was originally trained for the 0.10 standard.)

But without that number on a sheet of paper spit out by a lab or an intoxilyzer machine operator, I have to go a bit further to convince the Intake division at our DA's office that this is a hill worth fighting over. I'm averaging 9 page narratives, and putting in written statements by witnesses, and transcribing the statements for lazy attorneys who don't want to try to skim some one's longhand. I'm including maps with itineraries of drivers who don't know where they are when I speak to them, showing DA's who don't know the area just how meandering a route the drunk has taken, and how far off their intended path they've gone. I'm including post-Miranda audio captured in E.R.'s and recorded on frickin' cell phones, because body mics won't reach to the car. I'm coming in off-duty to type in supplements to my original report, about statements that I've gotten.

The days of "saw drunk; arrested same" are over.

And these are just misdemeanors. This time. For some, the next one will be a felony.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Post vacation.

I don't have a home computer right now. I'm missing it, but more for practical things (like taxes!) than for entertainment. Sorry for lack of updates.



As for the vacation, I'll try not to make you jealous. But in over a week of traveling through 4 states and almost 3000 traveled together as a family, there were no squabbles or snits. Not even among the kids.



I ended up documenting the trip with a camera phone, and stored about 800 images on my phone. It's who was in them that was important, not what was behind them.



Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, especially Bright Angel trail, and Glen Canyon (on the Colorado, above the Grand Canyon) were highlights of the trip. Snow camping, being snowbound in Moriarty, N.M., and hiking in steep trails in the snow were all interesting seasonal aspects of the trip.



I love my family. I love it more now than then, and that's saying something.



I love the smell of musty old packcloth and canvas and Ponderosa pine as I go to sleep in the chilled air.



I love this nation, and the people and the land that make it up.



I am ruined, for now I must do this at fairly regular intervals.



I hope your Spring is kicking off as well.

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