Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Sunday, July 02, 2023


People are reacting with outrage. "To what?" you might ask, eyes eagerly searching for confirmation of your own beliefs.
The answer is: extremes. We might not agree with a moderate take on the other side of a dividing point, but we won't be outraged by it. Outrage drives action. If the action is consumption of my product, then I want you outraged. Creating discomfort is promoting my product. If I have an online publication, then the proof that it works is when you click on my news story or collumn, and how long you stay with it before moving on.

Notice how headlines are almost always more inflamatory than the actual text of the news story or collumn. It's worth noting that even before online publications, it has almost always been such that the writer is not the editor who composes and posts the headlines. Now, with the headlines being the link to the page, they're even more inflamatory. Add in that many people don't read the texts of the stories, choosing only to get their "news" or information from the headlines alone, and you can end up with a skewed view of the world. That's on all of us.

So The Other Side is never presented as somewhat opposed to your desires. No, they are presented as polar opposites in the greatest extreme. Conservatives are portrayed as militant white Christian Nationalists who are obsessed with guns, and pray for a Christian theocracy, at the expense of other peoples' rights. Liberals are portrayed as Marxist perverts who want to destroy the law and the lives of decent people, and will stop at nothing until it is against the law to be armed or to pray. Do such people exist? They sure do. Are they sometimes the loudest voices in the room? Sadly, yes. Do they truly represent even a scant plurality of the people on their side of the midpoint? Not in the least.

But outrage sells clicks. And attention gets votes. And the current political environment rewards extremism. How do you stand out? Show that your opponent is either the actual devil, or (if the opponent is vying for the same party's nomination) fails to pass the purity test. The latter uses numerous invocations of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy to convince one and all that the other candidate for nomination just isn't really an example of the party, because they're too moderate. This ignores the fact that, in fact, they ARE an actual living, breathing member of that party. The most common example that I see of this is the term "RINO."

I'm sure that there is a ton of stuff about which North* Carolina freshman congressman Jeff Jackson and I disagree about. (It is worth keeping in mind that a South Carolinia Democrat is not like a California Democrat.) But his middle ground comments are interesting in how refreshingly mundane they are. Here's what he has to say on this topic of outrage:

I'm asking you to stomach your bile, and to take a minute to watch him pull back the curtain on his colleagues. It's pretty revealing. Sound up.

* Edit

Friday, April 22, 2022

Thanks, I hate it.

 I can't believe that it's been more than five years since I was issued body armor. 

Soft body armor breaks down over time, and has to be replaced. Aramid fibers like Kevlar are super-strong, but daily use, and especially heat will cause them to become less strong over time. Because early cops (and some modern ones) have had a habit of keeping body armor in the trunk of their car, to pull out "when it's needed" (when is that?!?), the National Institute of Justice put standards on how long armor could be worn, and put standards on "conditioned" armor. 

Per NIJ protocol, "conditioned" armor shall be tumbled at e 65 ºC (149 ºF) for 10 days at 5 rpm at 80% humidity. Basically, it's being put into a clothes dryer. 

Since I have known since the early 1980s that soft body armor doesn't like excess heat or humidity, I have never kept it in my car in hot circumstances. The NIJ is trying to allow for those who are not so careful of their caretaking, I suppose. 

Because wet Kevlar is apparently not as good at stopping bullets as dry Kevlar, the NIJ set standards which required that a tough waterproof cover be placed over the bulletproof panels. Most armor companies use a heat-sealed vinyl coating which is almost exactly like a cheap shower curtain. Then the officer wraps this around himself, and tries to be active. 

The rigidity of the armor panels is generally determined by how many layers of Kevlar are stacked to make the panel. Even silk cloth can be stacked enough times to be made rigid (interesting note: old Japanese body armor often was made of multilayer silk panels). If you're going to have to wear body armor, you might as well wear body armor that stops bullets. For example, there was initially an NIJ standard for Level I body armor. It was considered effective at stopping up to, and perhaps including, .380 acp bullets. I've never personally seen it, and it would be a collector's item to find. 

NIJ Level IIA is the lowest rating for soft body armor which is standardized. Per the NIJ, the standards are thus: 

NIJ Level II is the middle-of-the-road soft body armor. Per the NIJ, its standards are as follows:

NIJ level IIIA is considered the most bullet-resistant concealable body armor. The NIJ standards for it are: 
Level III is rated for rifle. Level IV is rated for armor-piercing rifle. I do keep Level III+ plates in a plate-carrier in the patrol car for special events, but I do not wear rifle plates during regular patrol. I have seen some officers in some agencies do so, and I feel that it is excessive. I am not working in a war zone, and the vast majority of police shootings do not take place with a rifle. Moreover. a man with a rifle can aim at the head or low pelvis, and end me that way. Life is not without risk. 

There's quite a bit of overlap between Level IIA and Level II. Level IIA was actually expected to stop some .357 magnum, back in the day. (The standards change.) Look at Level IIIA, though. What do I gain? The ability to stop a .357 Sig traveling at 1470 feet per second is something. I have chronographed a lot of handgun rounds, but I have never personally seen a .357 Sig round that broke 1400 feet per second out of a handgun. Then we have the ability to stop a .44 Magnum jacketed hollow point bullet traveling at 1430 feet per second. I have actually seen this velocity before, but it was out of an 8" Ruger Blackhawk revolver and it was a handload. Out of the far-more-commonly-encountered 4" barrel, 1250 fps would be closer to reality. Out of a 2" revolver, it wouldn't break 1100 fps. 

So it is that for the first 10 years of my career, I've worn Level IIA, and since then, I've worn Level II body armor. But my chief was dead-set on getting me the "best" protection that I could have this year, so I got Angel Armor Level IIIA body armor. It feels like I am wearing a barrel. It may be heavy, but at least it's stiffer than the stiffest cardboard that ever was used to ship auto parts with. I'm not knocking Angel Armor, here (although I'm irritated about the loss of pile to attach my backup gun holster to). I'm just frustrated with wearing what feels like a flak jacket under my uniform shirt.   I am ashamed to admit that I put on a lot of weight during COVID, and I feel like a poorly-wrapped sushi roll where someone didn't soak the seaweed wrapper. I feel like a dry manicotti. 

So, even though Level II stops 99% of handgun bullets fired at police, I'm wearing bulkier, heavier, stiffer armor that stops the remaining 1% of handgun bullets which MIGHT be fired.... yet still won't even stop .30 Carbine ammo. 

Saturday, January 01, 2022

The call that makes it worthwhile.

Almost twelve years ago, I wrote this, and it still rings true

I'm just looking for that right stop. The guy burgling cars. The drunk side-swiping parked vehicles, while trying to get home. The runaway 14 year old sneaking out to meet her new Internet boyfriend (" dreamy. He's 29!") at the street corner. Something to give tonight's patrol some meaning.

This last shift, it was the end of 2021, and the beginning of 2022. New Year's Eve, on the end of a pretty bad year. I have a habit of almost always volunteering to work on New Year's Eve, because I like to take drunks off of the road. I also will admit to a minor thrill at "winning the toaster," or finding the first case report of the new year, preferably by arrest. I've gotten it many times. DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), DUI By Minor, Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence, Public Intoxication, DWI 2nd, Possession...

So this year, I've got a rookie to train, and sergeant's stripes, and another unit out (we would have had other units out, but for COVID). We've been stopping everything. Inoperative headlamp? Stop and issue a warning. Rolling stop sign? Stop and cite. But so far, no drunks. No fights. No arrests. 

Toward the very end of the shift, we roll up on a fairly new passenger car, parked at the pumps of a closed gas station. My rookie checks out on a suspicious vehicle after seeing the driver fail to move. He walks up and speaks with the driver, and it turns out to be an elderly man. My rookie invites him out of the car, and the old man has a moment of trouble. Too much to drink? No, he has a bad hip. The old man is a charming fellow (a retired engineer), and he explains that he got lost after delivering a package to a family friend, and after his phone died. He lives about 20 miles away. I ask him about medical problems, and he mentions diabetes... and Alzheimer's. 

When we run his name through dispatch, bells and flashers go off. His wife is worried sick, and has put out a missing person report. I call her, and explain that her husband is good, and inquire if he is a good driver. "He's an EXCELLENT driver," she assures me. "He just gets lost."

So, with her assurances and his, we slowly lead out, with an amber flasher atop our vehicle, and drive to his house. He does a beautiful job of driving in following us there, just as promised. My rookie and I briefly meet his lovely wife and their terrific dog ("he's never met a stranger, yet"), and I suggest to her that it's past time to have the talk with her husband about giving up the keys. I suggest that she bring the kids in on the discussion. She agrees. 

We shake the old gentleman's hand, and leave. 

"This was the call," I tell my rookie. "This is the one that we've been looking for all night. This is the call that gave the whole shift meaning. We've had a good night. Let's go home." 

We didn't burn a case report number. Nobody went to jail. I don't care. 

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Sunday, December 12, 2021


 I had bought a finished-out cargo container with windows and door and an air conditioner and insulation, and had it placed in my back yard on a pad that I placed there. I even had electricians pull a permit and run proper electricity out there. It was to be my "man-cave," but really was just a place for me to do some reloading. Dad had said that I could take over his handloading operation. Among gun people, there is often a "gun room." I cleared my father's out, completely, of all reloading stuff. It took me most of a week, and I put it all into cargo container/shed/"mancave." I did some organization, but not enough, really. 

Then my father died in August. 

I had a friend tell me that he wanted to go hog hunting. He didn't have a suitable rifle. I did. I got some .35 Whelen loads ready for him. In the meantime, this meant organizing a lifetime of relatively disorganized reloading detritus, all in loosely-packed boxes. 

I got to where my sport was "box-killing," which I had originally coined when I had helped move my father back in the 1980s and 1990s. Dad would put basically trash, pocket change, loose brass, and maybe a $1000 tool into a loosely-packed box, and mark  it "Misc. Crap." In this case, I had mostly boxes full of old metal coffee cans full of brass, marked "Brass." If I was lucky, it might be marked "sorted brass." (I think that I had ONE of these.) Usually the best that I could hope for was "misc. handgun brass." One box was marked, "Loose, dirty, unsorted brass," onto which I had at some point appended with a marker: "the worst sort of all!"

"Brass" is simply the casing of a metallic cartridge. In reloading, I polish it, size and decap it, prime it, charge it, and seat a bullet to the case, resulting in a complete metallic cartridge. 

To organize the over-full room, I have been consolidating the boxes of components, and throwing out the unnecessary boxes and the trash. I usually transfer the brass to clear giant ziplock bags. The empty boxes get broken down and taken to recycling. I have killed dozens of boxes from my man cave over the past year. Over the past month, I've probably killed a dozen or so. 

I never got a full set of cartridges loaded for my co-worker in time. I found a dozen rounds, and he took my rifle and killed a nice hog with it at 77 yards. 

Once I get the scale up and running, I'll have another 80 rounds of .35 Whelen loaded by the end of the week, and hopefully another dozen boxes reduced. 

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Monday, September 20, 2021

In celebration of the life of my hero.

My father, Johnny P. G., died after a short illness on August 20, 2021. He was 78.

Forty years a cop, my father was a classically-educated man, with a degree in History from Texas Christian University (1972). He had always loved aviation, and had been a member of the Civil Air Patrol in high school in El Paso, and liked to fly in small aircraft with friends, though for some odd reason he never finished getting his pilot's license. When he began as a college student with TCU, he joined the Air Force ROTC, and planned to go to Viet Nam. Shortly before his senior year, he was examined and found to have sustained a broken neck in a car crash when he was 18. The Air Force medicaly discharged him, and the Marines and Army likewise refused him for service. Ironically, though he suffered severe scoliosis throughout he last three decades, his neck never really gave him much trouble. 

Johnny worked in high school as an ambulance attendant, and through college as a surgical technician. He planned to go PreMed, but organic chemistry stymied him, and he gave it up. He dropped out of college for a couple of years, and joined the Tarrant County (Texas) Sheriff's Department. Impressed that their new deputy could type, they put Dad into Communications, and he soon was a sergeant of dispatch, which wasn't what he particularly cared to do. Dad joined Benbrook Police Department in 1969, where he was a patrol officer as he finished his last year of college at TCU at my mother's insistance. 

In 1972, holding his bachelors degree from a decent university (a rarity among patrol officers of that time), Johnny applied for a job with the Denton County (Texas) District Attorney's Office as an investigator. At the time, among the 254 Texas counties, he was the third state licensed DA's investigator. Those were different times, and often DA's investigators found themselves helping out small rural town's P.D.s with cases, and occasionally Dad found himself serving felony warrants and kicking doors on raids. He also worked some capital murder trials, occasionally leaving home while on change of venues. 

On one case in particular, Dad and the entire prosecution team were threatened, along with their families, in open court by members of the Bandidos crime syndicate. 

During the 1980s, Dad investigated corruption by the sitting sheriff of the county, resulting in charges. 

He never once had his phone number or address unlisted from the telephone directory, his entire life. 

Dad was a stoic. He was notorious for refusing to report his discomfort. It would have been nice if he had gotten corrective surgery in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when his spine first started to squirm massively from the centerline. When he passed away last week, he was at least four inches shorter than his 6'6" height from college. At 6'5" (maybe now down to 6'4", I towered over him the last 20 years.). 

Dad went on to become an investigator for the Sheriff's Office, and became a sergeant of Special Investigations (read: Internal Affairs), and later Lieutenant. He retired on the last day of 2004. 

He was a scholar of firearms, and I will never know half of what he knew, nor a quarter of what he had forgotten. 

"Honor is everything," was a motto of Johnny's. Ethics mattered in every thing he did. 

SE Colorado, by Matt G 2019    

Johnny teaching Matt G to run a Thompson, circa 1979. 

Johnny pinning Matt G's badge. 

Johnny slinging up Ching Sling on Savage Scout, ca. 2001. Photo by Matt G.    

Johnny at the range, circa 2008 with Matt G.     

Johnny on his 40th birthday with son David, 5/12/1983. 

Johnny as a freshman in college at TCU. 

Johnny shooting at distant reactive targets with revolver, circa 2014, SE Colorado.     

Johnny dove hunting with his dog Ben, circa 2009. Photo by Matt G.

Johnny holding son Matt G, late 1971. 

Johnny having a cigar while visiting with friend John Shirley, ca. 2010. 

Johnny and son, ca. 2007. He was reserving. 

Johnny and Matt G at 100 yard range, SE Colorado. Photo by Tamara Keel. 

Johnny shooting Shield EZ given him by son Matt G, 2019. Photo by Matt G. 

Johnny with enormous boar shot in 2006. Photo by Ashley Emerson. 

Johnny with toy rifle, ca. 1946. 

Johnny in front of the courthouse which he started as a DA's investigator. Photo by Ed Steele, 2014.     

Johnny, photo by Ed Steele, 2014. 

Johnny getting his pho on at Viet Bites. Photo by Matt G, 2019. 

Johnny on a stormy evening, photo by Matt G, ca. 2015.     

Johnny at NTSA range, photo by Matt G, 2016. 

Johnny, the elder scholar. Photo by Tamara Keel, 2018.

Johnny firing 1928 Thompson. Photo by Tamara Keel, 2018. 

Johnny in SE Colorado. Photo by Tamara Keel, ca. 2016. 

Johnny near Westminster Abbey in London, 1989.     


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

The Current State Of Our Union.

 Oh, did you think that I had forgotten about you all? 

As I stated back in the summertime-- we will get through this. But darker times are not completely over. 

Our nation is evenly split. We have People Who Want Their Team To Win No Matter What. We have People Who Are Gleefully Showing Shocked Outrage At The Other Team. We have People Who Have Checked Out. 

Our President will believe what is reported in his favor. He will strike out at anyone who reports something not in his favor, regardless of the veracity. He and his supporters have repeated the claims so much, it would be like denying faith to examine the claims with any eye toward critical thought, now. 

People, long convinced that their votes were dismissed by a tampered-with election, are acting out against the government which they feel has let them down. They believe that the government is enabling the  a fraudulently-elevated Biden to be President. They believe that this is life or death, and they have to act. 

They have stormed the Capitol. They broke things and hurt people. This is a riot. 

They were urged to show up by  President Trump. Today was the day on which Congress was to certify the electoral college vote. Somehow, interrupting that count was going to bring some power back to them.

It did not. 

What happened is that the pendulum swung a bit harder, separating and dividing us further. 

For days, our President has been issuing pardons. For the last couple of days, the discussion has turned toward a phone call which he made to the Secretary Of State in Georgia, whom our President urged to "do a favor," and "find some more votes."  Now, the discussion has turned to the issue of our nation's President issuing himself a preemptive pardon. This is ridiculous, because if  he can do this, he may act unlawfully with impunity. 

We have seen 62 courts throw out challenges to the elections, made by Trump's supporters, usually due to lack of evidence. Some of the judges were Republican appointees. Some even Trump appointees. No court yet tried has found sufficient evidence to intervene in the state elections for President. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R, KY) has called for a cease to the objections to the vote, by the Senate: "I've served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I've ever cast," McConnell said. "The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them, it will damage our republic forever."
 Former President George W. Bush has made the call for the riotous demonstration to end.  Numerous Republicans who had pledged to vote to oppose the election results have reversed themselves, and are choosing not to raise objections to the vote. Lindsay Graham, long a Trump supporter, gave an impassioned speech in which he remarked that only Donald Trump could get him to stand with Rand Paul on such an issue.  Senator Paul declared that today's riot was "chaos and anarchy that needs to be stopped.

It has been reported that the President's Cabinet has current members who are discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment. 

Now, you can say, "Matt, you've just provided links to MainStream Media. And they lie." Oh, I believe that MSM has biases, and gets some things wrong. But unlike your favorite blog or buddy on social media, or you, they actually have a stake in verifying what they say before they say it. We know that our President has lied.  We know that a swarm of competing news organizations have shown these facts.  Given a choice between our President's specious claims, and numerous professional news sources, I'll go with the news sources. I'll be right more often, if still occasionally wrong. 

If you tell me that you would have been up at the Capitol, storming the building, to interrupt the Constitutionally-mandated count today--- I will tell you that I don't respect that. 
And that I would have wanted to be up at the Capitol, stopping your unlawful interference. 

Shall we go on together, as a nation, now, and lick our wounds, and try to heal? 

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Monday, July 27, 2020

The way things are.

How are things? The general consensus is: "Not great."

A quarter of the nation is unemployed, thanks to a novel virus causing international lockdowns for social distancing.

Large cities are powderkegs of "protesters" and police clashing.

Cultural wars are in full swing. We have strong evidence (hell, let's just say "confirmation") of outside influence by international online arsonists who are fomenting hate and discontent on social media.

The President says that he does not trust:
The news media.
Scientists and doctors.
Our nation's intelligence services.
Our nation's criminal justice system.

The Left is cast as being full-bore socialists who want to tear down free enterprise, and get rid of the police.
The Right is being portrayed as racist, war-mongering, radical conservative, gun-obsessed zealots who care nothing for the nation's environment.

Police are being portrayed as focused on killing or at least hurting people of color whenever they can get away with it, who totally would get away with it, if The Left let down their guard.

Every use of force by police is now suspect to the public eye, if there is not a long history of the actor being a dangerous criminal, and there is not beautiful video of the event, depicting the recipient of police force committing indisputably heinous crimes (i.e., not just against police) when the police step in and expertly execute maneuver which stops the crime.

Police are assumed to be part of an inherently racially unjust system.

Because of this, people have taken to the streets in demonstrations which have repeatedly become riots. People will en masse block highways, blocking other people, to "raise awareness" of their issue. (This, to me, is akin to punching out a random old woman to raise awareness about breast cancer.)

People are stressed.

Listen to me: 


We as police will adjust some of the things we can, and the public will have to understand what we cannot adjust.

A vaccine is coming, and the greatest nation on the planet will get back to work again.

The current dumbass President will leave office, and another dumbass President will assume the role.

Do not get worked up over what someone says over the Internet-- chances are, they're just some Russian 'bot trying to goad you into a position of rage, to contribute to our chaos.

I and my brothers and sisters in blue will continue to try. And dammit, we'll try to do better. We have to.

I am sorry for our collective Troubles, and I will take a drink when they are past. For now, the liquor cabinet remains shut, because we have work to do.

If you can, try to be understanding of that idiot neighbor of yours, and do something kind.
If you can, let that comment box with the flashing cursor in it go unfilled with furious text.
If you can, send a little olive branch to that person that you used to think well of, before finding that they were just a little over on the Other Side on some divisive issue or another.

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