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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[Beep. Beep. Beep...] How do I back this thing up?

I just found the following at ColtCCO's place:

Effing Dreamhost/Wordpress
ate my entire blog.
Posted by ColtCCO on April 30th, 2008 filed in Uncategorized Comment now »
The whole thing. Didn’t backup on upgrade to 2.5.1 like it said it would. Directory
emptied, unrecoverable. Dreamhost says it’s not their fault, they didn’t do it, they didn’t mean to, they’ll never do it again, and I can’t prove anything anyway.
How angry am I? I say, “fiddlesticks” and by “fiddlesticks”, I mean the foulest sort of profanity that it does no good to type here.

Newbeginning now I guess. Could have done without losing 2 years of
blogging. Motherfiddlesticks.

I really hadn't much thought of that occurance, before.... I might need to take action to avoid it.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh look. Free money.

Well, that just fixes everything, doesn't it?

My little family is scheduled to receive, two weeks from now, almost as much money as we got in our tax return.

I should shred the check, in accordance with my feelings on the whole silly stunt. (Or actually, make a withdrawal of the cash, because it's being direct deposited to my bank account, and then shred it.)

But no, I'll stick it in my savings, where I put my tax return money last month. So much for an economic stimulus.

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Thanks again for visiting.

And thank YOU, reader from Liberty, MO, with MOREnet ISP service, for being my 150,000th visitor.

I have very much enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, the constant comments of my readers. Frankly, it is the exchange that I enjoy the most. I hate that I have to set my comments to be approved; please don't take this as an indication that your thoughts aren't welcome. Even the ones that thoroughly disagree with me have always been approved for posting, as long as they don't cross the line into profane attacks on my person and/or family. I have never defined a troll as "someone who doesn't agree with me," and have never understood those who turn off their comments on their blog. They're missing the best part!

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Buffalo Bore test

I finally shot some of the Buffalo Bore Heavy .38 +P loads this weekend.

I was doing crime scene reconstruction project (more on that, later) with friend Eric when I decided to shoot some out of the Model 36 (steel frame) Chief 2".

At 10 yards, firing SA, I achieved this group, from standing:Recoil felt like.... well, a heavy +P. Not really like a .357 magnum, as I was expecting. Not bad, actually.

I reloaded, turned to my left, and shot two steel pipes on the far left edge of the target area, DA. I was gratified to see the smaller pipe, which only weighed about 5 lbs and was hit higher up, tumble off the cinder block that they were perched on. You can see the bullet splashes of the soft lead on the steel pipes, circled:

I then went to 5 yards, and put three shots fairly quickly [not quite triple tap (BangBangBang) but faster than just quick fire (Bang. Bang. Bang.) Call it hasty fire, or semi-rapid. (Bang-bang-bang)] into a Shoot-N-See target. Now, 15 feet ain't much for long distance, but keep in mind that I was shooting a 2" J-frame after having already fired 7 rounds of this stuff. So I'm middlin' pleased with the results, from what a lot of people consider a "belly gun." I know that it looks like the top one keyholed, but it did not. That's just where the stick-on target was pasted over a hole in the cardboard target backing, and the vinyl target ripped a tad from the SWCHP bullet passing through.

DA with this out of a little gun is not very pleasant. It isn't something to whine about, but it's not a pleasure, either. The main ache came from the bottom of the inside of the trigger guard slamming against the underside edge of my trigger finger, with the rapid muzzle rise from recoil. Could I get through a 50 round course of fire with it, firing double action? Yes. But I wouldn't much care for it. Aw, well. It works, and I'm happy with it. If it runs anywhere near the published 1000 fps for a 158g bullet out of a 2" revolver, it's pretty impressive.

I think I'll order some of the non +P heavy .38 loads for my Airweight M37.

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Wild turkey for breakfast.

When do you see lots of dove flying? The week before dove season.
When do you see lots of croissants on sale? The day after you start a no-carb diet.
When do you see wild turkey? The year you didn't get a turkey stamp.


Yesterday, I got home from my deep night shift, and was eating breakfast with my family, when I saw something out the window that surprised the heck out of me. Okay, not the fact that I really, really need to mow-- that's a given. (Hey, it's been raining a lot, lately, and... and... okay, I'm a lazy ass, and will do it right after I hit SEND on this post.)

What I saw was a wild turkey, strutting around.

Do I have a hunting license? Yep. Is it spring turkey season? Yep. Do I have a turkey stamp? Sure.
A: It's a hen. Spring season is gobblers only.
B: We live in town. Even if it were a gobbler, harvesting your own turkey is a no-no.
C. My wife would have thrown a fit, even if A and B were not at issue.

So we enjoyed taking pictures through the window. When it flew over the fence into the neighbor's yard, we took pictures over the fence as it strutted around on the neighbor's trampoline. My wife stood on a chair and caught some digital video of her as the neighbor's dog went charging up on the hen, causing her to run and then fly right over our heads. It's amazing how fast a 14 to 18 pound turkey can run and fly, cupping huge scoops of air in massive wings, sounding like enormous quail as they rise over your head. As I stood to my wife's right, the turkey missed my head peeking over the six-foot fence by about 2 feet-- I easily could have grabbed her feet as she passed over, to land in a distant pecan tree.

Wild kingdom.

You can almost see the thought bubble above the dog's head: "Aw, shucks!"

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Book meme

From Tamara, who got it here:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123.
3. Find the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Here's my three sentences from Cormac McCarthy's The Road:
The water was so clear. He held it to the light. A single bit of sediment coiling in the jar on some slow hydraulic axis.

So I pick Breda, and LawDog, and John Shirley, and, uh, ClaireBell.

And, yeah, I know I owe some other memes that I've been tagged on. Pic is taken for yours, Breda.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Haiku #12-- Tough Weather

Who'n hell decided

That purple is a sissy

Color, anyway?

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Paging Ayn Rand...

Remember when private businesses could serve who they wanted, without people trying to ban their ability to say "get the hell out"?

Basically, that's what businesses in England and NYC are doing-- they're using a high-pitched device that's annoying to teens to discriminate for the more mature customer.

Yet, that's "wrong." We have to stop that.

No, don't boycot them. We've got to BAN them.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wild ride.

It's kind of odd when we're getting less spin from the Russians than our own people.

Sure, the Russians are also kind of downplaying the downsides, but they are at least admitting that the recent Soyuz landing had such various problems as:
  • --At the wrong angle of descent.

  • --Begun upside down.

  • --Without communications for 20 minutes because the top was burnt, damaging the antenna.

  • --Filled with smoke.

  • --Filled with high heat and pressure because the relief valve was burnt up.

  • --Unable to be located by transponder, requiring US Defense tracking data to find.

  • --280 miles off course.

  • --Required local yokels to act as flight stewardesses to assist in two of the three astro/kosmonaut's disembarking.

  • --They don't know what caused the problem.

  • --Three space travelers are going to need some new pressure suits, because their old ones have probably been, uh, soiled.

"The NASA official emphasized how reliable Soyuz ships have been."

And I like that we've got the the whole concept of "space travel is dangerous, and that's not going to stop us, by golly." But downplaying smoke in the cabin as "maybe not smoke, but actually the smell of burning materials" is pretty damned disingenuous of NASA. Look, if the Russian cosmonauts were so stupid that they were going to misidentify smoke, then maybe we don't need to be putting them behind the wheel of the bus we're sending our astronauts up and down in.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Under the wire, under the guns

I almost failed to mention that today was San Jacinto day.

My father didn't forget, however. (He never does.) Go read his fascinating account of this turning point in the fates of Texas, the United States, and Mexico, which transpired at a bayou near modern-day Houston, 172 years ago today.

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Boring old married couple goes to big city.

Y'all know my wife's a sculptor, right? Oh, she has "real job" to pay for bills and insurance, and such, but she's classically trained and has the tools and skills to make art out of clay, glass, bronze, brick, wood, leather, and maybe even stone, for all I know. She can also make a box of acrylic paints sing.

So I decided to surprise her with a trip to CowTown for the Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival.

This is a yearly thing that Fort Worth has been putting on all my life. They close down the red brick avenue that is Main Street, and rent out stalls to artists that have to be good enough to pass a jury to get the privilege to spend a lot of money to get a 10'X10' piece of pavement. There are three or four stages for performers to put on free shows, and a very large kids' play area with lots of crafts and such for the kids to do, for free or almost free. In the past, we've brought the girls, and made a day of it.

Somehow Fort Worth knows how to make this work. If they tried it in Dallas, for all their bigger budget and larger infrastructure, they'd screw it up. Fort Worth manages to keep it clean, orderly, and clear of overly-obnoxious people. The police and security presence was obvious, but not at all intrusive. I never once saw a panhandler, even though I saw plenty of sidewalk performers with open music cases or hats on the ground. There's a distinction that I can appreciate. This event is a city-wide team effort, and the results are pleasing. There's no gated entry, and it's free.

This year, the surprise was that I ditched the girls, and reserved a hotel room at a decent old hotel that overlooks Main Street.

Because my wife and I are cheap penny-pinching money-grubbing frugal types, we tend to stay at places of the type advertised for by Tom Bodet, with lovely views of interstates, parking in front of your room (if you're lucky), and the room service consists of a guy in the parking lot who will bring you some weed to your room if you'll just front him some money, first. (Do people actually fall for that gag? I've never gotten to find out.)

This joint was swank, though. Pull up to the valet desk, leave your key in the ignition, pick up your receipt for your car, and go check in. I tipped the dude a buck, and he seemed happy for it. Later, when we came downstairs for our car, I showed my receipt, and an attendent ran into a giant elevator, only to emerge from it two minutes later in my car. He seemed happy enough with his buck, too.

We checked in, and discovered that we had two full sized beds in the room. Aw, crap. I had forgotten to specify a king. I looked at my wife, who was trying the mattress, and who looked over to me with a grin and said, "This is just fine!" See, we've been married for a decade, and the whole novelty of sleeping in the same bed is pretty well worn off, for the most part. Oh, we love each other, and are demonstrative and such, but honestly, we use separate blankets while sleeping in the same bed. She says I'm a blanket hog, and I know she's one.

That memory foam mattress rocks, by the way. You'll think it's too soft, at first. But it's not. I might just buy one.

The room overlooked the festival, and we enjoyed a drink while doing some people-watching, scoping out the street three floors below. Buildings across the way were built in the nineteen-teens through the thirties. Urban, in a charming kind of way.

We wandered the festival for some hours, and came back to the hotel for a swim and a soak before going out to dinner. We walked to Daddy Jack's, for bowls of lobster bisque. If you haven't tried it, do so.

That next morning, we broke our fast in the bakery downstairs, and wandered through the festival some more, checking out new upcoming artists and re-checking stuff we'd seen and liked the evening before, with fewer crowds. I bought a gift for a friend. The last thing that we looked at was the Best In Show winner. Lewis Tardy took that prize in a vast and highly-talented field of artists. This guy's stuff is amazing. Cyber-punk-robotic-tech kind of stuff, most of his pieces are about 3 feet tall. Lots of stainless, chromed, glass lenses, etc.

We hurried home for my wife's cake-decorating seminar, and I went to pick up the kids later.

I'm sorry to bore you with this episode of staid married life, but I gotta tell you-- it was the highlight of my month. My wife enjoyed it, too. I think we'll do it again.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

We don't watch a lot of sports in my house.

"Who's that?" my wife asked as I finished my coffee in front of a television screen depicting a dark-haired woman crying.

"Danica Patrick," I said. "She races Indy cars, and just proved that she's not Anna Kournikova."

"Because she won, even though she's a hot chick?" my wife inquired, watching the screen. Well, at least that part was obvious.

"Yeah, and even though both of them have posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It's too bad she'd crying, though; it's bad for the image. But then again, I'll bet a lot of guys cried the first time they won an Indy race. Turns out, though, that it's not only the first big race she's won, but it's the first Indy race that a woman has won."

"So she caught some flack for posing in swimsuits?"

"Yeah, people said that she was just trying to get by on her looks. But, hell-- she's marketing herself, and there was a lot of interest in her, and..."

"...And she was the best person on the track today. So she was a young, attractive woman in her 20's --looking as hot as she was ever going to look-- who chose to pose for pictures in a swimsuit?" My wife asked. "Good for her."

"I'm so glad we see things the same way."

I may be paraphrasing some of the above.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

From last night's shift...

Traffic stop:
Thought, but not actually said out loud:
Ma'am, flirting with me isn't actually effective at getting out of a citation.
The only reason I was glancing down your camisole was, uh, to check for, uh, weapons. And I'm not generally one to write for a headlight out, anyhow. And when I ask if I've pulled you over before, it's because I really don't remember, and you do actually look faintly familiar-- not as a "Hey baby, you violate here often?" Come-on line. So get over yourself. And put a jacket on, for criminey's sake. It's chilly out.

- - -
Radio traffic jaw dropper:
Another agency is dispatched to a call in which the caller reports that someone has tampered with his alarm system, and now hears someone walking around inside the house, with a light that he sees moving about. No one has access to the house. The caller runs upstairs with his family. "No weapons of any kind in the house." ends the broadcast. In Texas.

So. How's that working out for you, dude?

- - -
Traffic stop:
Ma'am, I notice that you didn't present your Concealed Handgun License, as is required when you are stopped while armed. Oh, you're not packing tonight? Well why not? You went to all the trouble of a background check, hours and hours of classroom instruction, and qualifying with your pistol. Oh, you haven't shot it in a while, and want more proficiency? Well let me ask you: Do you think that you can simply carry it safely? You do? Well why not do that, and make the consideration, when the bad guy is at Bad Breath Distance, whether you might be able to make effective use of your gat which you haven't shot a lot of, lately? We like to see our good citizens able to defend themselves. Uh huh. Well thank you for your courtesy, ma'am, and please slow down.

- - -
Traffic stop:
That's quite a meat smoker you've got back there, sir. I don't think I've ever seen one bigger. I especially like the fold down step that chains up, and the smokestack that looks like it was cannibalized from HMS Queen Mary. Uh, mind the power lines up the way. 48 hams in there, you say? Man. That's a lot of pig. Haw. You're right, that's a good one. Nope, I've never eaten a smoked donut, but I'm sure they make 'em. Listen, it'd be real good if you could get some lights and reflectors and registration and safety chains on this trailer. Well, yes sir, I realize that it's technically a smoker, but the State Of Texas says that if your smoker rolls on wheels behind your pickup and is pulled by your ball hitch, it's also a trailer. Well, actually, they'd call this a "semi-trailer," because the axles... know what? Never mind. Where are you heading with this thing?
Okay. Why don't I just escort you down there, to keep you from getting rear-ended? Right on.
Wagons ho.
Or smokers. Or semi-trailers. Whatever.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Check under your cushions for change.

MonkeyGirl's raising money for a good cause.
C'mon. You've got $5.00 for the sons of a dead hero, don't you?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Big time .38 Special loads.

Buffalo Bore has made a name for itself in providing high-end, very powerful, semi-custom production ammunition. I first became aware of it when people like friend Rich Lucibella was using it and Garrett .45-70 ammunition to shoot cape buffalo in Africa. [An interesting proposition-- using a 130 year old cartridge in a short carbine to knock down a 1.5 ton, highly aggressive (and not at all endangered, BTW) bull from under 100 yards, with iron sights.] Both Garrett and Buffalo Bore also make high-end .44 Magnum ammunition, as well.

But unfortunately, I'm not stalking through Africa for a big bull, and I'm not fly fishing in Alaska, amongst the big brown bears. When I need heavy .44 magnum ammo, I go to my dad's and handload some (or more likely pilfer some from the stash that he made with his own hands). And I don't even own a .45-70; I gave the only one I ever bought to my father for a birthday present a few years back.

My gun-toting is usually much, much more pedestrian. I tend to pick up a little pocket pistol on the way out the door, and drop it, strangely enough, in my pocket. No, it's usually not a brace of .45s on my hip[s]. I sometimes don't even carry a reload. But, I've got a gun, and more than once, that's given me peace of mind when I was out of uniform and going about my rather humdrum life. While that pocket pistol may well be a P3AT with its 7 rounds of raging .380 fury (rolleyes), it's as likely to be a little J-frame 2" Smith and Wesson revolver.

These little guys are hard to shoot well.
They're heavier and bulkier than a P3AT.
They have difficult sights.
They have decreased capacity. (5 rounds)
They look very unimpressive when drawn.

They are only .38 Special caliber, out of a not-quite-2" barrel.

Still, a .38 Special is a better stopping cartridge than a .380 acp, even with a shorter barrel reducing the velocity on the .38 (but then, have you looked at the length of a P3AT barrel, lately?). It's not just that you can start a much heavier bullet (typically 125g or 158g) at about the same velocity (~750 to 800fps out of short barrels). It's the type of bullet that you can launch.

A few years ago, I was carrying a small 9mm around with me. A handful of 124g 9mm seemed like just the ticket for off-duty use, until I discovered the sheer comfort of carrying a 2" J frame airweight with short boot stocks and a bobbed hammer. But I was bothered by what I was giving up-- my old agency demanded that I carry Gold Dot HP ammo, and all I could find in .38 Special at the time was 125g, in either +P or standard pressure ammo. Well, my little 9mm shot 124g Gold Dot HPs at about 1050 to 1100 fps, while my little J frame shot 125g Gold Dot HPs at about 800fps, if I used the +Ps. And the J frame held less than half of the 9mm's capacity.

I was delighted when Gold Dot came out with their 135g load, specifically designed for short-barreled revolvers. Using faster-burning powders, it achieved its maximum velocity in barrels under 4 inches. And, hey! 10 more grains of bullet weight!

But I have always felt that light and fast is utterly the WRONG road to take, with the .38 special. Instead, take advantage of the revolver's advantages. The revolver does not need to feed well, and a sleek ogive such as that found on the Gold Dot bullets is just not needed. Want to see the .38 Special perform out of its own league? Stick a semi-wadcutter (SWC) into it. Semi-wadcutters are bullets with sharp shoulders on them, which carve out full-diameter holes in targets that they are fired at, allowing the shooter to clearly see his grouping. They also are highly effective at carving permanent wound cavities in tissue. Want more? Well, make it a hollowpoint semi-wadcutter (HPSWC). Heck, make it of soft lead to guarantee expansion, and you've got a Lead HollowPoint Semi-Wadcutter (LHPSWC), or HP LSWC.

For the longest time, this load was made by Winchester, Remington, and Federal. It was called variously the "FBI load" and the "Chicago load," or just the "man stopper load" by many. It was loaded to +P (or above SAAMI specifications for standard .38 Special 158g loads) pressures. It is still carried by many, such as my father, and my friend Stephen Camp.

Photo by Stephen A Camp, Highpowers And Handguns.
See how it expands in wet newsprint? Well, a few years back, I shot a couple of javelinas with my 6" Officer's Model Special heavy barrel. Both of the little beasties, upon field dressing, were found to have lead nickels stretching the inside of their off-side hides, both of which looked almost exactly like the one you see above in Steve's picture. (They made mediocre green chile stew. I'm about done with Javelina as a delicacy.)

But that was a 6" revolver. I found, through testing, that it only gave about 890 fps with those +P loads. In a loose old 2" revolver, I was lucky to get anywhere close to 800 fps. Would they expand? Well, probably.

Last year, I performed some blood spatter experiments, in which I found myself shooting heavy sponges saturated with fake blood. I was surprised that a .40 Hydroshock not only fully expanded, but apparently remained stable. I was more surprised that a Federal Nyclad 158g SWCHP (basically the same thing as the FBI load, but with a blue nylon coating to protect the bore from leading) did NOT expand at all, and tumbled within 4 feet. Then I found that it tumbled within two feet.

Hm. More velocity. Softer bullet. Bigger hollowpoint. I began to be concerned about getting these things out of my little 2" revolver.

But I continued to carry either the Federal Nyclad load or the Remington +P load.

Two weeks ago, friend Peter came to visit north Texas, and my Dad, Holly, and LawDog all visited with him. Unfortunately, I had to work, and couldn't come visit. Peter came bearing gifts, too. He brought me some excellent Brenneke KO slugs, and a box of Buffalo Bore Heavy .38 Special +P loads.

These fall within my idea of what a .38 Special load should be, for short barreled revolvers. A heavy 158g bullet, with a sharp SWC shoulder on it, made of very soft lead (you can cut it with your fingernail), with a giant meplat that holds the biggest hollowpoint that I've ever seen in a .38 bullet. Look at the size of that hollowpoint, next to the Remington (left) and Federal SWCHPs that I pulled out of my revolvers and speedloaders:
See that little flat on the side of the Buffalo Bore load on the right? That's because I've been carrying it in my mom's M36 2" that I've been carrying the last couple of weeks. (A real man isn't ashamed to admit he carries his mama's guns.) It's soft, make no mistake.

Here's another look:

It looks like a wine glass next to a jigger. Heavens.

Check out the velocity that Buffalo Bore claims on the box:

One thousand feet per second, with a 158g LSWC. The guy at their website actually says that he achieved considerably higher velocities (1040 fps!) out of his 2" S&W revolver (M642).


It's expensive stuff. Over a dollar a round for a box of 20. It's packed in an interesting manner, with each round completely enclosed.

I'm thinking that I'm going to enclose mine with the 30 year old 5 shot cylinders of my (and my mama's) J-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

We're living in the future.

Tamara links to Sippican Cottage, where the proprietor asserts that this ain't a bad time to be alive.

I've been saying this stuff for years. It sucks to live today for some reasons, but those reasons are offset by the fact that we're livin' in the future, man.

Cell phones have changed the entire planet in the last decade. In my profession (police), we've seen it change the way we receive and answer calls, and the way that we respond to them when we get there.

Computers-- especially laptops-- have changed the world. Hell, I'm at home, and I'm not even using my desktop. Why should I? the little notebook does it as well, and I can pack it with. In my patrol car, I can bring up a suspect's mug shot, criminal history, and what he paid for his house, without even invoking privileges given by the badge-- I'm doing that on the public side, through Internet Explorer.

My tired old Honda that's 11 years old and has almost 200k miles on it still gets 32 mpg, when I drive it like a bat out of hell.

Telephone service is cheaper than it's ever been in the history of ever. I can talk all day long to my friends in other states on the reasonable flat fee that I pay once a month.

Flush toilets. Air conditioning.

Clean water is taken for granted, my entire life.

I ate homemade lasagna Friday night. Unimpressive, right? But the pasta was a favorite brand of whole wheat. The cheeses were chosen among an impressive variety of them, still with an eye toward reducing the fat. The garlic was fresh but I didn't have to grow it. The basil was fresh from my windowsill. The pork sausage was made in my kitchen with a food processor a few minutes before we made the pasta dish. The oven was digitally regulated. The sauce was frozen, but was defrosted in the microwave. The food was dirt cheap, compared to my yearly wages.

Beer: It comes from all over now. And there's competition to make it better. Even when I was first legally able to buy beer, a good selection was a rarity.

Same for coffee.

Seafood: We who live inland can now enjoy it, too.

Entertainment: Shows are a LOT more complicated than they were as recently as the 1970's and '80s. Back then, 4 main characters was a LOT, with 8 being very complicated. I heard somewhere that that 24 show that some of y'all watch has over 40 characters. Huh. People are smart enough to keep up. Who knew? Also the variety is a lot better. Used to be, you had some goofy comedy, some game shows, maybe a western, and some cop shows prominently featuring car chases.

Music: Download. Order. Plug in an MP3 or burn a CD or whatever. It's an anomoly to have to cue a tape, these days. And setting a needle in a groove is a lost skill. Which I don't lament.

For better or worse, free speech is utterly guarenteed, with regard to obtaining access to information. Also, it ain't hard to publish an opinion, these days. Yes, there are draw backs to removing the vetting process of an editor or publisher, but there are benefits, too.

Computers are dirt cheap, relative to a few decades ago.

I'm relatively free from concern about contracting communicable diseases. While AIDS sucks, you have to participate in activities that I exclude myself from, to get it.

My daughters have a pretty good chance of living lives in which they are not constrained in their life choices, merely because they're female.

There's more. A lot more.

Quit yer griping. Yeah, there're problems. But check out the bennies.

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"Don't you think that's kind of ironic?"

...asked my nine year-old as she watched my wife, who is taking a cake-decorating class, measure powdered sugar and shortening on a Weight Watcher's scale.

"Shut up, kid," grinned my wife.

It's nice when you see that your offspring actually gets irony.

So many don't.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Random pics of my dad shooting

Dad has decided to let down the veil enough to be seen. If you live in our area, and shoot, you know who he is already. And, it stands to reason, you probably know me. ;)

I still haven't really gotten my desktop online, so the hundreds of other pics on it are just going to have to go unshown. But I've got a few on my laptop, and, because I've got nothing else to say, figured I'd show y'all some pics.

This is Dad making ready at the line, while shooting his new Colt WWI repro 1911 in an IDPA match in September 2007. Those who are in the know will recognize the significance of the orange shirt he's wearing, which he picked up while attending Gunsite under Jeff Cooper in 1980.

Note the range master's monster magazine funnel is empty. This was a cold range, requiring the unnecessary administrative loading and unloading for every stage. This is a silly rule that brings pistol matches to a crawl, while providing no extra margin of safety. It creates a situation where shooters unnecessarily must manipulate their pistols more than they should have to. A better solution: make the rule that all firearms stay holstered during the match, except at the line or at the safe area.

- - -

This is Dad shooting his new round butt S&W Model 21 .44 Special that he and John Shirley worked out a deal on. This is an imminently carriable, superb personal defense weapon. It didn't quite suit John-- it does Dad. It's basically the same revolver as the Thunder Ranch M21-4, but it's a little less spendy.

- - -

Here's a pic of Dad testing that Colt WWI repro 1911, right when he first got it. He's shooting it in the old one-handed style (which he's never favored). Note the case in flight-- the slide is almost back into battery.
- - -
Edited to make pictures expandable.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Now that's a thunderstorm.

It's the time of year when you start hearing the term "squall line" used a lot.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Trout Fishing In America

I've been going to see TFIA play live for about 16 years. I initially bought their kid's album Mine, and while I love their adult stuff (They do a beautiful rendition of "Not Fade Away," for instance) I tend to like just as much their children's stuff.

In an amusing visual display, Keith Grimwood, the high-voiced bassist who used to play with the Houston Symphony, is 5'5", and is dwarfed by his upright basses, while Ezra Idlet, the tenor-voiced guitarist, is 6'9", and tends to like smaller guitars. They tend to share equally the microphone, singing a repertoire of other composers' classics along with their own compositions. They reside in Arkansas, and tour the South regularly

They usually put on a kids' show early in the afternoon, followed by an adult show in the evening. Family men both, it's not uncommon to see their wives and kids dancing in the front row.

They've received some Grammy nominations, and seem content with their enthusiastic grassroots following. Ezra has built an incredible treehouse that was so kewl, the New York Times did a story on it. . Because it's that cool.

Somewhere along the line, some traditions got started with some of their performances. They enjoy puns, and put them in some of their music, like "Pico De Gallo" and "Breakfeast Blues," the latter of which elicits corn tortillas thrown at them by the audience.

I'm not kidding.

Someone here decided to put up a YouTube video with one of their more popular songs, about a favorite topic of mine. Enjoy.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Memory: So. Hawt. (Almost)

Autumn, 1991.
U.N.T. Fencing Team Party.
Somewhere in the vicinity of U.N.T. campus.

On my way to the fencing club party, I dropped by the local beer-gettin' place, secure in the knowledge that my full beard would guarantee that I wasn't carded. I got 2 or 3 sixpacks of beer, and, thinking that the chicks dig sweet drinks, I got a pack of Bartles & Jaymes Golden Wine Coolers. Suh-weet. I was set. I was 19 years old. Off to the fencing team party.

Before I got to the checkout, though, I spied a hottie. But she was different than most hotties: she was actually a hottie who knew my name and would talk to me.

"Sam!" I gushed, wayyy un-cooly.

"Hi, Matt. What're you up to?" Sam inquired. She was tall. She was on my fencing team. She could spend hours in a crouch. She was fit. She was hawt. She had said (and thus had remembered) my name. And when you're 19, that means they Want You.

Play it cool, boy. "Oh, just headed over to the fencing club party. They've got food and such, but it's BYOB," I said, very cool. "They're screening The Duelists and Princess Bride during the party. You know-- 'cause of the fencing scenes and such." Damn. Of course she knows about the fencing scenes, you knob! "Wanna come with?"

She hesitated.

"It's only a couple of blocks away," I prodded.

"Wellllll..." she demurred. "I could drop by for a little while, for my team. After I drop off my friend here." She smiled. Her hair was chestnut. She liked swords, and she was named "Samantha." I was bewitched.

At the party, they had it in full swing. Almost every member of the geek squad U.N.T. Fencing Team was in the living room of a small apartment, watching Princess Bride.

Sam arrived. I had been drinking by this point in the evening. Did I mention that I was about 19 years old? Maybe 20.

After seeing that she had refreshments, I sat down in my comfy chair that I had commandeered in the living room. Sam, finding no place to sit, sat on the floor. I gestured to the front of my chair as a place to lean back against. Between my knees...

Athletes get to feeling comfortable with each other. We help each other stretch. We push each other. We sometimes hurt each other, a little. So when Sam leaned back against the chair between my knees, I knew that I was on solid ground when I began giving her a shoulder rub. Just yesterday, I'd seen her tear a guy up with her épée. I knew that her shoulders were tight, because that's part of the aftermath of time extending one's arm in a fencing crouch.

Back rub: Commence.

It was going well. Her shoulder muscles were melting under my fingers. She leaned back fully into the chair that I was sitting. Her head lolled back, causing secondary (primary) excitations.
The movie was on. The lights in the living room were turned down, to better see the TV. I had consumed 2 or 3 adult beverages. She was warm to the touch. I was giving her a back rub.

I drifted off.

I woke up.


She was carefully moving away from me. To the other side of the room.


What happened? What just happened here?


Matt, did you just...? Did you just fart? Because if you did, you just farted against the back of that girl's neck...

The smell wafted up.

Good. Gawd. I wasn't sure I could bear the stench. I must have expelled a LOT of gas.

She found her coat.

She left.

A "buddy" came up and said, "Dude! You just ripped a big one! Were you asleep?!?"

I think I saw Sam one other time.

From across the gym.


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Heavy weather.

Well, that sucked.

But I've got some pretty good dashcam footage of golf ball-sized hail putting pocks in the hood of my cruiser.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Just an observation:

Al-Qaida's second in command Ayman al-Zawahri comes complete with a handy-dandy aiming point installed for your convenience.

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Enamel missing from teeth.

When I stop a vehicle and discover that the driver is an old nemisis whom I personally hate outside of my duties, it's a little harder to issue those three warnings that I had intended to write upon originally observing it.

The charges are good ones. They're in the book.

And I've written for them plenty of times in the past.

But I hadn't planned to write them this night, and the only reason that I would have done so would be to make his life uncomfortable.


I gave him three verbal warnings courteously, and cleared the stop.

Frickin' ethics. They get in the way of a really good case of schadenfreude.

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