Better And Better

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some this and some that.

--Mad Max: Beyond PaintBall.

--I read Hunger Games  on my Kindle, and it's actually a pretty good story. A quick read, I got the second one. You can buy the electronic "Boxed Set" of three, but it's pointless to do, because it saves you nothing.

--I sent Tam some pics and questions about a recent .32 that I handled on a recent call. I'm eager to see what she comes up with.

--We got rain tonight in one of our usual May thunderstorms. "Usual," but surprisingly absent this May, until now.

--Also absent is my usual May funk. As I mentioned, I got an A this semester in grad school. One at a time. I should go sit for practicals or something.

--Neither of my girls are doing anything productive in school. They did all the last of their testing in early May, and the teachers are calling it in from here. I do not approve, despite the high showing that both my kids (4th and 8th graders, respectively) gave.

--Remember when, as a young person making videos in the back yard, you ended up with a shaky, completely amateurish, virtually-unwatchable thing? Comes now the future, when two girls with a decent hand-held camera and some knowledge of digital editing can put together a homemade video that is far better than 99% of the dreck that I have seen presented as professional music videos. Like the best music videos, this one tells a little story, about a narcissist and her friend. Most amusing.

--I first heard that song (AWOLNation's "Sail") presented behind Jeb Corliss's amazing BASE-jumping video, which is also worth watching. But I'm sure that you'd already seen that.

--I seem to have missed this verse in the bible during Sunday school as a kid.


--‎"Tardigrades are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal. Some can survive temperatures of close to absolute zero, or 0 Kelvin (−273 °C (−459 °F)),[7] temperatures as high as 151 °C (304 °F), 1,000 times more radiation than other animals,[8] and almost a decade without water.[9] Since 2007, tardigrades have also returned alive from studies in which they have been exposed to the vacuum of outer space for a few days in low earth orbit." I read aloud to my wife.
"So that's what's going to take over the world, some day," she said.

Aww. Water Bears.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Abolish the TSA.

At the very least, please try to see to the abolition of the current form of the Travel Safety Administration.

I just got an "A" in Homeland Security in my graduate studies this past semester. It is impossible to do this and still believe that the Travel Safety Administration are worthwhile and competant. They are an invasive, ineffective drain on our national resources that take away liberties, destroy an industry, and create new classes of criminals. They are worse than useless.

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Memorial Day, 2012.

I remember why we're off today (or would be, if our jobs permitted it). I am so very thankful that we have men and women willing to sign up to be put into harm's way. My family is without fear because of such people, past, present, and future.

Thank you.

We remember.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summertime, and the gas fumes are reeking.

I was beset with Honey-Do's for this Saturday before going to the fire station for a shift. My wife was to run some errands while I did the plumbing work, and she was taking the kids with her to avoid them hearing the inevitable cussing that accompanies plumbing work in this house. She left and a few minutes later walked back inside. Her car had managed to get 20 yards down the street before dying.

I checked it. The gas gauge, which had shown 3/4 full when I pulled in last night from seeing the (most excellent Marvel's The Avengers movie), now showed bone dry, with the light on. Aha! Someone had siphoned our gas out in the dark of night! Cheeky buggers. Easy fix, though. I got the gas can from the shed and put in a gallon. Crank-crank-crank. Nothing. Crank-crank-crank. Nothing. "Maybe I flooded it," I said, before face-palming loudly. My wife asked me to repeat what I had just said, but I demurred to say. Her impression of me is already compromised enough. 

So I figured that a gallon wasn't enough. I sent my wife to get another 6 gallons of premium at the store. She brought it back, and I put some more in the tank before -- hello? what's this? It was now overflowing, with only 1 gallon more added. I checked. Yep. Full. Brim-full. 

Uh oh. This is going to get into a bit of money and trouble. I really wish that it had been some jerk siphoning the gas from my tank, now. 

I texted my shade-tree mechanic. He texted back that he was working. Why on Memorial Day weekend, I asked. 2.5 times pay is good money, he responded. I couldn't argue. He's a single-income family with a house, two cars, and a pair of kids. I asked if he wanted to make some more. As I have mentioned previously, this guy's got the SAE certs, and his prices can't be beaten. I really like giving him the money, as opposed to some big shop. He told me he would have his wife move the mini-van so that I could have the tow truck put it into the driveway. He told me that the problem was probably a sending unit for the pump and the gauge, and may or may not require the pulling of the tank. 

The tank that is full of gas. 

Now, it's just 13 gallons of gasoline, but at $3.67/gallon, that's nearly $48 worth of petrol. 

I decided to siphon out half the tank. I pulled out a small hose used to test diesel on patrol to see if the driver is using untaxed agricultural diesel. It's like a capillary tube. While I did get a flow going, it was a trickle, and the stiff poly hose flicked gas onto my shirt, my wife's shirt, and my face. Yay. Soon the bend that I put into the hose began to leak air, and I lost my suction. So I used a 4-foot length of clear poly fish tank hose. The problem here is that the interior diameter is half an inch or better, and that is a about 18.8 cubic inches of airspace to pull, or 0.309 liters. While it's true that the average capacity of a human male's lungs is about 6 liters (18 times the volume needed to pull here), it is also true that it's a FOOL who pulls gasoline with the lungs when suck-starting a siphon. See here what kind of reaction you end up with. Pulling from the diaphragm ensures that you will (not maybe) get vaporized petrol into your lungs, which is a handy way of causing serious chemical burns and even death, which I try to avoid as a general principle. 

I just didn't have the volume in my cheeks and mouth to pull the gas up over the hump at the lip of the tank. 

So it was that, covered in sweat from the hot sun and covered in a fog of gasoline fumes, I resigned myself to defeat, figuring that I would just give the gas to my mechanic as a tip. I went to the hose and made the appropriate noises while cleaning the gas off my face and lips and rinsed my mouth. That pistol sprayer can be a bit much on that hose, y'know? 

My wife went into town to pick up some items, including a bulb siphon pump hose. I thought of suggesting that she get some fried chicken to go with it. 

I put my clothes into the washer and ran it on Heavy Soil with a squirt of lemon-scented Dawn in it. "Having the smell of gasoline about me is one of my biggest pet peeves," I grumbled, coming out of the laundry room. 

"One of many," my bride of 14 years said. 

I opened my mouth to protest. "I don't have that many.... Say, this conversation isn't really going to work out for me, is it?"

"Smart man," she replied, grumpy as I was. Dismissed, I called the wrecker driver. 

Now to shower. I never will get that damned toilet done today before pulling my shift at the FD. 

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not feeling absolutely terrible awful. .

My jerk of a partner* has decided to force me off my couch and into the world Not Imminently Expecting A Downturn In Health. He wants me to run. I pointed out quite logically that this was a stupid proposition, as Matt Doesn't Run. So he put this regimen of running to me, to get to running 5k in 8 weeks. I flippin' doubt it, but the first week is easy enough, so I started this:
To give me company, I brought the 10 year-old and the 13 year-old. The 13 year-old was a little hard to convince, until I reminded her that she is attending two summer camps this year, both with lots of swimming, and her swimsuit is a bikini. (Insert suppressed fatherly scowl here.)  She decided that she needed to come along. Note the ambiguity about the total time. Is that 5-minute walk part of the 20 minutes? Frankly, I doubt it, but I was completely prepared to scale it as it it were. We did horribly. The elder daughter finished. I finished. My 10-year-old lagged and didn't really finish. We went home and felt sore and bad about our physical fitness.

Two days later, we went for the second iteration of Workout 1. See, each week, you do each workout three times. We were dreading it. And surprisingly, we did great. All three of us did quite well, today. I can't explain it. I don't ever recall the words "I feel great" coming out of my mouth after a run, before. (I cannot express here how deeply I generally loathe running.)

I'm actually vaguely looking forward to Saturday's run with the girls. They're a great pair of partners to have along. And come on-- we can endure ANYTHING for half an hour.

________________________
*Actually, I love this guy like a brother.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Class Act. You're Doing It Right.


I found this in the mailbox today. 

In an age of Tweeting thanks and putting up a Facebook post being considered above average for an expression of thanks, it is touching to receive a real, honest-to-Gawd Thank You Letter. I post it here not to brag, but to preserve evidence of this ever-less-commonly-seen rarity, so that future generations can see that there really was a vein of people in our present society who maintained some class. 

My friend John Shirley has noticed the same thing

I can think of no greater pleasure than assisting such people in any way that I can afford. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Proposal.

We need to start awarding Fullbright scholarships for Historical Gun Geekery.

I believe that this guy would be a candidate.

Of course, I've quite a few other friends that qualify. But I'm always mentioning them. This guy I don't know, and enjoyed his comprehensive videos.

Training. A good day.

My friend's wife Dawn wanted some firearms instruction. I mentioned here what I planned to do, before even notifying my father, who was integral to the whole thing. I watched Dawn and my boy fall in love, and stood at their wedding 14 years ago. I have something invested in making sure that she's taught the right way. I asked if she were free on Friday. She impressed me by telling me that she was going to call in a favor and take the day off. This told me that she was All In. Good.

 We met at a local diner, and had bacon and eggs. Interestingly, she, I, and my dad all chose extra-crispy bacon as our breakfast meat, though we ordered separately. This seems portentous.

 We picked up some staples and a new staple gun, because rain falling meant no tape, and really, can you have too many staple guns? We went to Dad's club range, and after getting signed in, put up some paper plates at 7 yards.

We discussed stance and hold, and then handed her my 6.5" Browning Buckmark. The first target was troubled.

I watched her shoot, and we put in a second magazine, and I watched her very carefully. Finally, I felt that I had the problem: she had taken me exactly at my word. I had told her that I wanted her to grip the pistol tightly. She had such a tight grip on that steel Buckmark that her right forearm was visibly shaking. Okay, let's back way off on that grip. Now, let's grip it tightly, but not to the point of causing muscle fatigue. Instant success.

 The groups on the plates got smaller. We moved to the 4.5" Buckmark. They opened up slightly, due to the shorter sight radius and different grips.

 We went to a Glock 19. We used a 4" .22 kit gun. We shot a Colt Officer's Model Special 6". We shot a S&W M19 4", which she really liked. Then, to show the effect of lighter weight and shorter sight radius, we shot the 2" M13.

We shot a Colt M1908 Pocket Pistol in .380, and Dawn was amazed at shooting a specimen made in 1916. (She shot it very well.)

Against my better judgment, I handed her my Kimber 1911 .45. I say "against my better judgement," because there was little point to it. This was the first day that she had ever picked up a handgun. Stupid YouTube videos abound of beginners being handed full-power firearms without adequate preparation, pointed downrange, and told to shoot, while the photographer giggles at the inevitable cringe of discomfort that comes form the shooter. This seems to be most commonly perpetrated by boyfriends to their girlfriends, and I speculate that the goal is to prove to the girlfriend what a big strong man the boyfriend is. ON THE OTHER HAND, there is a benefit that I saw to having her shoot the 1911. She was doing very, very well at this point, and had been for two and a half hours. She had proven that she understood sight picture and trigger squeeze. If, on her first time out, she shot the .45 and performed well, then she could honestly tell herself, "I can handle it" thereafter. I had marked plates with letters and pointed to the "B" target, and said, "It's going to move around and make some noise, but it won't hurt. Put the bullet into the 'B' where the two humps meet." And we have a winner.
We fired a few more rounds, and I declared the training session over. There's a point where training fatigue sets in, and things can go downhill. So rather than get there, I asked if she would come out again soon, and we began to clean up.

On the way back, I asked her what her favorite gun to shoot was. She described her favorite as being the 4" M19 with .38 special loads and Hogue grips.

We'll do this again, soon.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday random thoughts.

--My elder daughter's band class played their Spring Concert last night. They played the Chicken Dance (A.K.A. "The Duck Polka"). The band instructor, a fun-loving guy, turned around after one verse, called for the house lights to come up, and chastised the parents for not having danced. My wife and I hopped up and implored the others to join us in the dancing.  Very few did. I got some sour looks by fuddy-duddies. Scroom. Heh.

--My best friend's wife wants to get her CHL, and asked about how best to do it. She runs a fireworks stand and wants to be armed, with all the cash that they take in. There's also a certain, ah, clientele that tends to come in, which has made certain persons call it the 'Cracker Stand. Texas law doesn't require her to have a CHL to keep a gun at the cracker stand, but I'm glad to see her wanting to get one, so we'll try to help her expedite. There's not much time before the stand opens. I'll be starting with her from scratch. I think I'll attempt to employ a certain experienced firearms trainer to help me. My best friend, who also will probably attend the class, will NOT be present for her training sessions. We have found over the years that there is a tendency for Texas men to unintentionally assert a certain dominance over their female significant others during training. This interferes with good learning. It has little to do, in my experience, with the quality of the relationship that the couple has off of the range, and needn't be an issue with just shooting. (I realize that I'm speaking in vast generalities, here, which means that there's always an exception.)


---I can think of no song more appropriately titled than "Mush Mouth," here.
I finally understood one sentence: "And it goes a little sumpin' like this."
--Fun is the Radio Time Machine. (Works better in Chrome, for me.) Fun listening to the music from the year I graduated high school, the year I was born, the year my mother and father were born.

--My partner, who had been out on medical leave, came back to work this week. He picked me up for lunch today, and it made me happy.

--Things we should probably be telling our graduates Your life is going to get worse. Don't try so hard to be great. Don't make the world worse. You are not that special. Now you know that you don't know much, and have to learn your way into your success. 90% of your interactions with humans will be either negative or neutral-- when you have a positive one, don' let it go.

--Tomorrow marks the sesquicentennial for the Battle Of Puebla. On it, I work Friday night, then work a bike race on Saturday day, then go in to work a 12 hour shift Saturday night. Oof.

--I've GOT to get some reviews from the NRA Convention put up.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Awwww... Predator behavior.

It's not that the kid's in zebra stripes that's getting this lion worked up. It's that the kid is a baby, and looks like what prey should look like to an alpha predator. 

Some might be upset that mom and dad left their kid to clearly be a lure for such a shot. I submit, though, that if we stipulate that thick safety glass is beyond an African lion's ability to defeat (and so far that's been the case), the kid is far safer here than being dressed up for a child beauty pageant, or sent to cheer-leading camp, or stood near a mountain stream for a nature shot. It's all the same. "Look at my kid!" 

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