Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Tuesday Random Thoughts.
--This morning, just before my alarm went off, my daughters got me up, and the coffee was ready. They were watching a movie on World War II. They made witty, funny conversation as I drove them to school. These, friends, are the good times. I never thought that rearing a 14 year old and a 10 year old would be this easy.
--My 14 year old got her class ranking yesterday. She's in the top 5%. All but one of her close friends are in the top 10%, including the girl ranked #1, who commented last night that, after maths, they should study for the upcoming Spanish quiz. My daughter laughed and asked why she would want to study for a class that she has a 99 average in, when we had plans to go visit with friends at Fuzzy Taco's Shop? That's my girl.
--I FINALLY got my dad and his wife's Christmas present installed yesterday. A pecan tree, with a bonus nectarine tree planted. I've never seen nectarines around here, but peaches and plums and apricots do fine here. At the very least, it will bloom pretty for them. I put it across from their entry/exit door. I'm very embarassed that I was this late. I had wanted to plant a pecan from Womack Nursery, but they were completely out of their amazing Podsednik variety, which yields nuts that go 20/lb, and are the size of Grade A Medium hen's eggs. I put the pecan tree to the southwest side of their house, to provide shade for the house. Such things really make a yard more comfortable.
--I sent in my new order for another custom holster to Michael's Custom Holsters. I'd been sitting on the fence about whether to get a K-frame holster, or another J-frame holster. I've been wearing one of Mike's J-frame holsters for over two years, and I decided to get a second one, in black this time, for admin days and training days. This one will have no exposed stitching, which is very different for me.
--I've been meaning to put up a review of that holster. Maybe this next post...
--I also sent pics of a beautiful old S.D. Myres (El Paso) floral carved holster that Rabbit gave me (to Dad, really). I finally got that to Dad last night. Check it out:
That's a good half-century old. Looks good on a K-frame 4", like a M64:
--It's so damned humid, I finally turned on the air conditioner yesterday. It was about 80 degrees, with a brisk wind blowing the Gulf air into us. Other Texans are not pleased with this turn of the weather. Right now it's quite windy, with gusts making moaning sounds outside occasionally, humid as hell, with the barometer dropping:
--Oh, good. Marko got my payment.
--By the way, those homicides by gun type charts (which show rifles OF ALL TYPES only are used in 4% of all homicides)? They include lawful shootings by police and citizens.
--When an interplanetary bounty hunter points a blaster at you, you shoot him the first chance you get, without waiting for him to shoot first. End of discussion. I can't believe that there's any confusion about whether Greedo shot at Han. If in fact he did, then Solo took a huge unnecessary risk. I
--The weather finally turned. Ah. Finally rain.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Kitty eco threat.
There's a fellow in New Zealand that wants to eradicate cats on the island nation. Sounds like a meanie, doesn't he?
But he's not proposing that people kill them. He just wants them all neutered, and no feral cats. His reasoning is that originally, New Zealand was teaming with birds that had no natural predators. Man's introduction of the friendly housecat caused kiwis and penguins and other ground birds to be endangered, but also the song birds, too.
My house regularly has feathers in it, from my rescued semi-feral cat, TC. He is lovable and friendly, and a stone cold bird assassin. I seriously consider having his front claws removed. I will not abide a cat box in my house. I am part of the problem.
Feral cat colonies are a HUGE problem. When we permit them to exist, we permit the devastation to the local ecology. While the catch-neuter-release programs are good ideas, they cost a lot, and thus rarely get properly implemented. Their proponents put forth the silly assertion that straightforward extermination doesn't work in reducing the problem.
Food for thought, from a cat owner.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Monday this and Monday that.
--Car adverts are certainly different than they used to be. Try reading the ad copy for the Pierce Arrow Motor Cars, from 1919. It just zings off the page, doesn't it?
--I bought a riding lawn mower yesterday for $160. It runs really well. This is my first riding lawn mower, since using the tired old Montgomery Ward model that my parents bought when I was about 9. This one is a Murray.
--It won't fit into the shed. I'm going to have to build a little shed for it, with a wide enough door.
--I finally cleared my desk of the huge number of cases that I had on it. Maybe now I can get some good patrol done.
--My elder daughter is hassling me about going shooting. I think that I'll make that happen.
--My younger daughter got a ridiculous device for Christmas that allows her to make miniature pies on lolly pop sticks. She makes and rolls out the dough, and then cuts out little discs of it, and puts in pie filling (she sometimes makes it herself out of berries), and then cooks them, 6 at a time, with a waffle-iron-like apparatus. They're called "Pie Pops." They're silly. They're tasty.
--My father got a new truck, in which we brought home the riding mower. That's one of the nicest vehicles that I've ever been in.
--We detailed my old Saturn on Saturday. It looks pretty good. I need to get a new tire for it, so that it will pass inspection, so that I can more easily sell it. I couldn't believe how expensive even the cheapest tires are. $50 for the cheapest that I found, plus $28 in balancing, mounting, tax, tire disposal. $78 for a tire that's going on a car that I won't keep a week. I walked out. Maybe I'll actually buy a used tire. I haven't done than since I was a teenager, and even then, I knew that it was not a good idea. This old car has a salvage title, and I reckon it'll bring about $1000. It served us pretty well, actually. We bought it in 2003 for $5200 out the door. It was two years old then.
--I wish that all my guns had finishes as shiny and well-preserved as those in Django: Unchained.
--Remember that we still have troops in Afghanistan, for no reason that I can ascertain. This is over four years after our current President took office, and nearly four years after he won a Nobel Prize for peace. Why is he getting a pass on this?
--My elder daughter read the above over my shoulder, and said, "There's never a reason to go to war!" That stopped me down. I limited my response to 15 minutes. I hope she thinks about what I told her. She's a very smart kid, but I had no idea how sheltered she was.
--The news is full of stuff about a Notre Dame football player named Manti Te'o, who was this past fall a sensation because he played splendidly, despite his girlfriend passing away. Now we find out that she was not a real person, and he claims to have been pranked. There is rampant speculation as to how much he really knew. Yet none of the newsies are openly addressing the issue of what motivation a single guy in an uber-masculine male-dominated sport would have had, to invent a mysterious long-distance relationship with a fake girlfriend. It seems to me that the most likely answer is also a tragic story, too.
Django: Hot Tub Time Machine.
My wife and I went to see Django Unchained last night. We liked Christoph Waltz. It took me forever to realize that I was looking at Samuel L. Jackson. Don Johnson added comedy that was the best part of the movie. I think that Jamie Foxx did okay with what he was told to work with. Not great, but okay.
But we didn't like it. First, the movie was WAY too long. 2:45 long. Every scene involved long, lingering camera pans that were unnecessary. I'm a Tarantino fan, but someone needs to edit the crap out of his stuff. Also, there was a logical ending, and yet the movie went on for another 15 minutes that should have been added in the director's cut DVD. Next, I get that Tarantino was trying to do a movie in the old spaghetti western-style (as even the name would tend to indicate), with a strong Peckinpah influence, but it really was over the top. Every single .36 caliber ball out of a Remington 1858 New Army or a Colt 1851 Navy revolver would cause sheets of blood to fly out of the recipient, coating the walls with blood.
And about those guns. The first gun we see in the movie is a double-barreled shotgun which was in keeping with the time, but is at the end of that scene referred to as a "rifle." The movie is set in 1858, and apparently Remington must have shipped cases and cases of their new revolvers down to Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi for general distribution to every dirt farmer that year. These were very expensive pistols, and poor folk generally didn't have them. This would be like finding every convenience store clerk, gas station attendant, and parking lot attendant having a brand new HK or Springfield model fresh from SHOT, now. While not impossible, it's highly unlikely.
There was a Colt Dragoon (Model 1848) visible, but it didn't play a big roll. We saw a pretty cool Remington Cattleman's Carbine (model of 1858), which would have been pretty damned rare to see. The main character rides hard with it in his hand, but I don't recall him ever shooting it, even when he ambushes some baddies.
The rest of the guns were almost universally anachronistic. The derringer shown again and again was a modern replica of a Remington 1866 .41 rimfire tip-up derringer. I've fired a couple of dozen rounds out of one (using up a sizable portion of the world's supply of .41 rimfire at the time, too, I guess), and the round is anemic. If you shoot it at a hardwood tree, there's a decent chance that it will bounce back at you. It of course caused gouts of blood in this movie. Why not? It was being portrayed 8 years early. Anything could happen.
There was a Sharps rifle that played a significant role. They never showed him loading metallic cartridges into it, but it wasn't the slanting breech model of 1852. I don't know the 1848 model. I think that this was an 1859 rifle, and much of the movie took place in 1859. The rich bounty hunter might have had newest kit. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.
There's an iron-framed Henry that's a year or two too early.
We didn't mind the cussing. People cussed, then as now. Anyone who is offended by the use of the "N word" while complicit with the depiction of slavery by those uttering it is a confusing individual. There is reference to a gladiator-style culture of buying and selling slaves for the sole purpose of pitting them against each other for fighting, which is referred to as "Mandingo* fighting" in the movie. My wife was surprised to hear me say after the movie that I'd never heard of such thing being popular. Oh, I've little doubt that it happened (Humans have always had a capacity for cruelty. And dogfighting has always been popular. So I'm sure that at times slave owners pit their laborers against each other.), but I've just never read of or prior to now heard of a real culture of slave fighting in the American South. Apparently, Tarantino just lifted the idea from a blacksploitation movie of the 1970's called Mandingo. He knows it's fiction.
The fact that this flick is a black man's fantasy about killing white slave owners doesn't bother me, any more than do the myriad of movies about getting revenge on the commies/men who murdered my family/enemy nation that attacked our country/etc, etc.
In an interesting reversal of movie styles, at no point is there any female nudity (beyond showing bare backs), yet there is a scene involving Jamie Foxx's taint, and his phallus. But that's not why the movie sucked.
*A few years ago, I helped out on a case involving a hebephile who had met his male victim online, using the name "Mandingo." I had at the time thought it strange to use such a nickname, but had not researched it. Apparently, there is a porn star (whom I won't link here, but can be found on a specialty database site for adult film stars) who goes by that name, and is also black. I don't think that the suspect was considering himself a fighter, but rather was identifying with the black porn star. He pled out.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Quick this and that.
--AD's and my friend Jeff just got his first carry permit in Indiana. I asked if he kicked in the extra for the lifetime permit, and he said, "You're damned right I did." I think it's like $100 and you're done.
--Classical Gas made #2 on the charts in the late '60s. The charts were more inclusive, then. It was huge. Imagine an "easy listening" song doing that now. Oh, and check out the awesome owl in this video featuring that song:
--I'm considering attending a burlesque show with my wife this weekend.
--I got a friend to try carrying a steel J frame against carrying an Airweight J frame. He's a good-sized fellow, and admitted that he's surprised at how huge the comfort factor is. Weight and width are my biggest carry comfort issues, assuming a real holster and belt.
--The news is full of gun-control talk.
--Because of his dumbass way of expressing his shirtless "look at me" tattoo'd self, I would not piss on James Yeager if he were afire. And I'm a fireman. Thanks for nothing, buddy.
--Speaking of people who do us little good: Sandy Hook truthers will (not maybe) be featured in Michael Moore's next movie. Bet on it.
--I think I'm buying a 4th-hand riding lawnmower on Sunday. The current owner says that it starts first time, every time, but it gives "too rough of a cut." Sounds like the blades need leveling and sharpening. Guess who's got an angle grinder and a bench grinder? He wants $150. That's not much of a risk. And stuff gets tough in summer.
--My shade tree mechanic couldn't find the trailing bearings for my Honda online, so I bought them retail from the shop that wanted $500 to put them in. At $140, I know I'm paying double, but we could NOT find just the bearings. And my shade tree mechanic will do it cheeeeap.
--Soon as that Honda's up and running, we're selling the Saturn.
--A paramedic and I last night were discussing a 15 minute lecture that we think would be useful to give to cops and paramedics called: "Abating Crisis: Give Them Options!" We have too often noticed that first responders, stuck in protocol, are quick to tell clients that they "have no choice" but to do what they're being told to do.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
"It's okay, he's with us."
A lot of people don't know that, until 1995, Texas had a rather stiff law against carrying pistols. Oh, long guns were okay, but to carry a handgun within one's scope of reach, one had better have been engaged in or en route to or returning from a lawful sporting activity, or had to be a cop or military, or, strangely, had to be "traveling."
Traveling was not defined in the Texas Penal Code. One judge would choose to interpret it as crossing county lines. Another would say that it was crossing three county lines. Still another would say that it was crossing three counties, with intent to stay the night. All the while, the charge of Unlawful Carrying Of A Weapon (or "UCW") bore a Class B, and later a Class A (up to one year in jail!) penalty.
There was no such thing as a license to carry a pistol in public, concealed or otherwise. That didn't come until 1995.*
But throughout the nation, Texas had a reputation for being a bastion of the gun-toters. And our gun culture was in fact quite strong.
How does one resolve this? No one could legally carry?!?
Remember that "Traveling" exemption? It's here, at 46.15(b)(2). It wasn't until September 1, 2007 (12 years after concealed carry was adopted in Texas) that we finally changed the law to permit one to carry a concealed weapon while operating a vehicle, regardless of the distance one went. A couple of years before, the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot had surprised many by issuing an opinion that Travelling should be regarded as any legal transportation by a motor vehicle by a person not a member of a street gang, who is carrying concealed and not committing a crime greater than a Class C misdemeanor. The new law basically adopted that opinion, built right into Sec. 46.02. (Making the Nonapplicability statute kind of redundant, actually.)
There's nothing like a little ambiguity in the law, to see that it's applied differently to different people. I assure you that, in the
Because they were white.
Or belonged to the officer's church.
Or a coach of the boys' baseball team.
But mostly, white.
Selective enforcement is a dirty way to apply a law, and friends, I'm afraid Texas had it pretty well institutionalized. I'm not proud of that era in Texas history, which went way back to the 19th century:
(Click to embiggen, and see what we passed in 1889. )
See, the law was applied to "those people," while the swarthier races, or even just those whom the officer didn't care for would be charged.
So think about how it would have gone down if Ice T, a black gun rights advocate, or Wayne LaPierre, a white gun rights advocate, had appeared on television, committing a felony possession of a high-capacity magazine.
so let's let him go.
He didn't mean nothin'.
*And the predictions were dire. "Blood in the streets!" "Armed showdowns over traffic disputes!" were forecast. Even as a cop, I've never (not once!) seen such, in over a dozen years in law enforcement.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Thursday random thoughts.
--When Marty McFly went thirty years into the future, he went to 21 October 2015. That's a little over two and a half years from now.
--I've got a friend turning in his gear to muster out of the US Army in Korea. I actually still can see a point in being there, unlike Afghanistan. But even then, the reason to be in Korea isn't good enough. Let's bring them home. This is less about me being a peacenik and more about me wondering how we're going to pay for this, and wondering what it is that we think we're buying with all those taxpayer's dollars?
--South Korea is mighty industrialized, now, and China has little or no truck with North Korea, now.
--I've been watching old episodes of Barney Miller, lately. As a kid, I remember that show coming on, and wondering why anyone would want to watch it. What kind of a cop show was it, where mostly people just stood around and talked, and a laugh track ran? Why didn't anyone ever fire a gun, or chase somebody??
Now, I'm fascinated again at the anthropology of police work. The detectives' squad room, for instance: no computers. Hell, even the typewriters are manual. The cops wear Detective Specials and 2" Model 10's, and maybe the odd Agent or something. Apparently the detectives routinely get called out to hot calls in-progress. Nobody has a portable radio. Very, very rarely is a female cop seen, and it's a big deal. Come to think of it, it's a big deal that one is black, and one is Polish, and one is Chinese, and one is Puerto Rican, too. Then there's the character Deitrich, who's just weird. I like his character the best. Sadly, Steve Landesberg and Jack Soo and Ron Carey and James Gregory are all dead. Ironically, the actor who portrayed the sick and burnt-out Phil Fish (Abe Vigoda) is still quite active as an actor at 91.
It took me a while to realize that Detective Harris is Shepard Book from Firefly.
--Watching the 30 minute cop comedy that spanned from 1974 to 1982, you become very aware of that tendency of television shows from that time period to attempt to grapple with social issues. I've seen ones on Vietnam, and the aftermath of violence, and on racial relations, and civil rights ("In a very special Barney Miller: Deitrich gets arrested, standing up for what he believes in."). I just watched one about Agent Orange that had an investigation less plausible than that purportedly presented in J.F.K.
--The captain has a couch in his office. I've had a boss with a couch in his office. I want, someday, to have a couch in my office.
--The dicks wore their guns right in the show, though, for the most part-- behind the strong side hip. Modern cop shows are terrible about putting that pistol at 2:00 or even 1:45, just so that you can see it even when a cover garment on. The show's main character carries it too far, with Hal Linden deciding that the good captain would have his snubbie at about 4:30 or even 5:00 o'clock.
--That reminds me: I need a new couch at home. We've shredded the leather. I've stitched it back. My daughter's stitched it. It's time. We got our $1300 out of it. (What? That was 10 years ago. We'd gotten an insurance check, and needed a couch.)
--Remember when you would occasionally see benches in men's rooms? My wife tells me that there's a couch in the lady's room at her office. I seem to recall, as a little kid getting dragged into ladies' rooms, that couches were rife in womens' restrooms.
--I had someone question some point of my manhood recently. I pulled out my pink cell phone, pointed to it and my ring, and said, "I've got almost 15 years of marriage to the woman that I've had two kids with. I quit caring about having to prove my masculinity to anyone a long time ago."
--Apparently, the SCOTUS just heard arguments about whether states can do mandatory blood draws without a warrant. I've been kind of uneasy about our new "If it's a felony, you have to give blood" law, from the outset. I'm absolutely fine taking an involuntary blood draw after having a sworn warrant. I've got a sneaking suspicion that we're going to see a lot of specimens thrown out for violation of 4th Amendment. I can deal with losing the admittedly useful investigative tool. I'd rather live in a free[r] country, even though I promise you that some intoxicated drivers will walk because of this, and will cause some deaths.
--I've had some felony DWI arrestees voluntarily provide me with a blood sample, so that their license wouldn't be immediately suspended for refusing, stating that they knew that I could take their blood against their will, anyway. Tough break for them if the mandatory blood draw gets thrown out.
--I bought a new dishwasher for Mom for Christmas. I got delivered today. The delivery guy knocked off some insulation, said, "Uh oh," and left it. I tried to stick it back on. Maybe I've got it right? I found that Whirlpool dishwashers need a special adaptor that you have to buy separately, to hook 'em to your water supply. They salesman that us the washer forgot to mention that. The salesman at the store when I went in to get the adaptor was shocked, and said that it should have been mentioned. The manager gave me a $25 gift card, so I'm basically happy.
--But now I have to finish installing a dishwasher. Which I hate doing. Uninstalling the old one was two tons of fun, too. It's been sitting full of stagnant dirty water for about half a year. Ew. It made a mess.
--I went to a Council of Governments class on grant-writing yesterday. That was kind of a beating. I'm hoping that I win us a grant, and that it becomes worth it. As the coordinator for our city, it's going to be like herding cats.
--This looks like an interesting integrated rifle system. The misuse of the term "bullet" is frustrating, though.
--My elder daughter refused to let me pull her out of AP honors geometry to put her in the regular class. She's been struggling, and feeling some stress. (First B in years.) I'm really proud of her for not taking the easy way out, when I was giving her that option.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Tuesday to stay
--I'm shocked at how many of my friends are tweeting and commenting about the Crimson Tide and the SEC and the big national championship game last night. I had no idea y'all were so into baseball.
--We're going to get rain. We need it.
--A reference source for all of us. You're welcome.
--I called my dad last night to seek advice on a case. I'm not ashamed to do that.
--My daughter customized her rifle yesterday:
|It's a funny bit.|
--In honor of my old partner's new job with another, much larger agency, his in-laws put on a wolf-pack trap/skeet shoot. Each of us put in $5 a round, and the winner took half of every pot. The pot grew, and finally over $200 was donated to a fund for widows of fallen peace officers.
--I made it to the final two twice.
--My elder daughter shot the old family 20 gauge that I had shot all through my teen years. I glad that Dad didn't sell it. She did very well, actually.
--I sliced the hell out of my thumb, trying to use the back of the blade of my Spyderco to open a box of CCI CB Longs. No, the lock on the knife didn't fail; the operator's internal safety did. I had to ask a vet present to superglue my thumb shut.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Among that which we applaud.
My old partner and I used to laugh a lot, listening to some Professor Elemental.
I had thought that we'd seen the last of that chap, though, until Jennifer tonight pointed out that the witty gentleman parody retro chap-hopper had just now produced this:
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
New Year. 2013
--You get that we can't do this better than they can, right? First we'd have to build a half-mile-tall building....
--I was driving an ambulance when the new year rolled in.
--My 10-year-old was at her best friend's house as the new year turned over. She said that they were dancing non-stop, mostly to Madonna. My wife was certainly glad that they went over to her best friend's house for that.
--We had our annual black eyed peas for New Years Day, in the form of "Skippin' Jenny." I've eaten this for years and never called it "Hoppin' John" nor "Skippin' Jenny." We also had cabbage. We didn't do that as a kid.
--I'm not in the least superstitious. But I like black eyed peas stewed with meaty pork bone, served over rice with greens. And I enjoy the tradition. So what harm?
--I ran a lot of calls, and overslept at the fire station.
--I did a lot of laundry, both at the fire house and at home, on New Year's Day.
--While I was on duty at the fire house, my daughter took down the tree and decorations. I had only to put them up into the attic when I got home. It feels very liberating.
--My younger daughter got an art set, which markers smell (respectively) like: honeysuckle, green apple, pine trees, marshmallows, "sea breeze", vanilla, cherry, berry, orange, spices, and lemons. Do we really want to be encouraging kids to be sniffing markers?
--I'm having more trouble than I thought, securing the right tree to put into my father's yard. Apparently 2012 was a bad year for pecans, and everyone bought up the good stock.
--It's been a bumper crop for the pecan nuts, though. Last night my daughters and wife and I shelled enough pecans to fill two and a half gallon bags with pure nut meat. That's about 9 pounds of meat, which we got out of our yard (from our neihbors' trees), all in one night, while watching a movie.
--I was surprised at how into the movie Taken my wife and kids were. Huh. A shoot-em-up, beat-'em-up thriller, with Liam Neeson (a personal favorite of my wife's) in it. There was even a moral in it for my daughters: Do what your Daddy says. Don't lie to your father. We all gave it thumbs up.
--Even with the chartered jet and knowledge of Paris, Liam Neeson's character seems to get a lot done in 96 hours. Apparently, he does so without sleep. Then, after killing all the Albanians and all the Middle Easterners in Paris, and after shooting the wife of one of the major deputy chiefs of the French spy syndicate, he takes his daughter and gets onto a flight to come back home. (Charter, again, I suppose.)
--I had half a fruit tart (a spoonfull is in the picture at upper left of the link) at La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe yesterday. I also had half of blackberry and cream cheese croissant fresh out of the oven. This stuff is bring you to your knees good. Cheap, too, considering that I ate it while getting refills of coffee and complimentary fresh bread and butter. Those guys have a hell of a business model.
--I'm retiring cases from 2012. I had a lot of criminal cases to work on, and did very little traffic last month.
--I'm a complete sucker for those year-in-retrospective shows that come on about this time every year. I may write one for Better And Better.