Saturday, April 29, 2017

Out Of Battery

Of all the stupid things you can do with a gun during a robbery, treating it like a magic wand and waving it six inches in front of some one's face is number one. Stay back far enough that they are at least an arm's length away. Really. People actually train for this. You cannot stop someone from taking the gun unless you are already pulling the trigger. It's not even difficult.

That's good advice in a defensive situation, too. Don't be close enough to have the bad guy put his hands on you or the gun and don't think pointing a gun is enough to deter everyone.

Second, in this case, the gun is out of battery. It's down, non-functional, no shooty.


Friday, April 28, 2017

There Has To Be A Better Way

You want to shoot someone in training? This is how you do it. Not every time. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But eventually.

You wouldn't even be able to call it an accident.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Bachelor Living and the General Electric Pinata - A Brigid Post

To start this post. My husband is on the road. Or at least he was until you are likely reading this post. He's a mechanical engineer. Actually, he's an engineer/inventor that had his name on a patent or two for stuff you see in your home, all before he was 30. But if you ask him what he does, he just tells people he works in a factory.

But when the machinery/tooling he has designed goes funky because someone tried to"improve" it he's usually on a plane to one of many countries his company has plants in, to back-engineer it to correct it. I am probably not one of many wives that hears "honey, I won't be home for dinner, I'm on my way to China. don't drink the last beer, but I know I'm not the only one. But it's more work here around the homestead when he is gone, especially with a dog. With the bad knee I have a dog walker, so Abby and I usually do pretty well "bacheloring" it - hanging out around the house or playing fetch in the fenced yard. But Thursday was NOT one of those days.

For you see, Abby the rescue Lab can't eat grains. I found that out on the road trip from the crash pad where I adopted her to our family home in Chicagoland. I gave her a mix of what her foster Mom was feeding her with some food I grabbed at the grocery store.  It wasn't super cheap food (seriously, who names a dog food "Old Yeller" after a dog they shot for having rabies) but it did have corn and soy in it. Barkley could have eaten a tank and just gently burped but Abby has a more sensitive stomach. Think Poonami or Poonado.  I found that out on the drive.
But now  I've got her on a great grain-free kibble and I found this great store "Pet People" (it's a chain, check to see if there is one in your area) that has a self-serve grain-free bulk treat section. There are SO many flavors and shapes. Abby loves the bacon cheese bits, the liver bones, the peanut butter puffs, the little rosemary bones. You load them up into a brown paper bag and pay by the pound.

I didn't realize there was a cup of treats in the kitchen freezer, in a crunched up brown bag, we'd tucked in there and then forgotten, the majority of our frozen stuff gone into the chest freezer in the walkout basement.

Until I partially defrosted the ice tray.
Our refrigerator/freezer is older than me.  That's saying a lot. Though it does fit in nicely with the kitty-cat clock. Needless to say, it is NOT frost free.  After muttering numerous HBO words trying to get a single cube for my shot of single malt the other night, I took an extension cord, a hair dryer and got the shelf for the ice cube tray somewhat ice free - not great but I could get the ice cube tray out. (Honestly, it went well, picture scotch deprived redhead who hasn't seen her husband in a week with an extension cord and hair dryer in Wonder Woman pajamas, cursing in a combination of Scot Gaelic and Norwegian).
The rest of the freezer looked like Antarctica but there enough bits and pieces of Tupperware leftover food in there I didn't want to mess with it quite yet.

Until the burrito incident.

For you see, when I melted some of the ice on the shelf for the ice cube tray, some of that melted water dripped down and refroze to other food items below. Not an issue if it's plastic, but an issue if it's a brown paper bag of dog treats.

So when I pulled out my DIY chicken bean burrito in foil, which had frozen solid to the brown paper bag of the dog treat package - the treat package ruptured and dog treats SPEWED  at high speed out of the freezer onto the floor.

General Electric PINATA!

Abby was ecstatic as the refrigerator launched a cup of dog treats on the floor.

I had a big mess to clean up.

Once I got the remaining treats Abby hadn't snarfed rounded up, I shut off the power to the outlets in the kitchen so the fridge didn't try and cool itself in the process and got out the hair dryer and a stack of towels and defrosted the whole thing. When it was ice free, I added a lot of cold stuff back in from the basement freezer to normalize the temperature and then turned the power back on so the 60+ year old moter didn't die of over-exertion.
Abby of course, wouldn't leave the area for the rest of the day and evening and kept snooting the fridge then snooting me, wanting a reenactment of the Pinata incident. I was about ready to call the vet to see if she could be put on Ritalin.

Finally, she settled down after I gave her ONE more treat.
I will be really happy when my husband is home.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Remember The Struggle

Early on in the modern age, Americans put a Sears catalog in the one holer. A true dual purpose device, serving as reading material and cleanup, that innovation served for a generation.

Once the throne moved indoors and electricity became standard, two things happened. In 1930, the Northern Paper Company made the great leap forward with the first toilet paper certified to be "splinter-free". Also, in addition to safe paper, radio was an option. Reading was no longer the only entertainment choice. But what if you wanted to change the station?

In the 1960s, this question was answered. I saw this recently in a junk shop.


If you need one, they can be found on E-Bay. Or you can just call up the oldies station on Pandora while you play solitaire.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

They Make All Kinds

Been a while since I added a link to the blogroll, but here's a sure addition.

They Make All Kinds is dedicated to covering interesting firearms, prototypes, and embellishments. Usually accompanied by great photography and details about what is known of the history and manufacturing, I can only recommend clicking the link when you have the time to look back over several months of posting.

Go ahead, we'll be here when you get back.


Never Forget - A Brigid Guest Post

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good man do nothing.
- Edmund Burke

My friends and comrades here had some excellent posts this week on the recognition of the Holocaust.  So I decided to wait a couple of days to post this.  But these words needed to be said. - Brigid

--------

I'm constantly amazed at the ignorance of man, not just in those situations which can get one killed, through acts of mental complacency generally fueled by alcohol or gasoline, but the seemingly willful ignorance of events that are occurring around them. I know people who have never left their hometown, but what is more incomprehensible to me, is people who have never thought outside their hometown.  I've heard as I keep tabs on the world on my days off, "Why do you CARE what's going on in the China Sea, in Iran?  The new Twilight movie is out!

I've come to the conclusion that there are simply some people who won't grasp the truth of the world until they see the truth of themselves.  Knowing yourself is a lifelong and sometimes acutely painful process, with your biggest lessons often emerging from your biggest mistakes. The truth about the nature of man and the world isn't always pleasant, some things we don't want to know  - what's really in a hot dog, how many calories there are in a piece of pie, and anything at all about anyone named Kardashian. Some things we cannot bear to know. But that knowledge of some things, no matter how hurtful to ones' spirit, is absolutely essential to our well-being, for only with truth do we have the resilience, the capacity to continue on, alive in the moment, unbound by regret and willing to fight.

In a disaster, in threat, to us as individuals, to us as a nation, the nature of truth, and how we face it, asserts itself.


Those who take charge do, those who choose to hide from things do, be it a disaster, heartbreak, the economy, crime or a terrorist attack. After 9-11, I had one acquaintance who refused to watch the news, heading out on a planned vacation and pretending it never happened. Another watched sitcom TV nonstop, staying home from work with a bowl of popcorn. Both of these individuals were in denial, afraid to accept the truth.

Some friends of mine who are first responders at the federal level were, within the last year, in my city, staying at my house while they attended some training.  They could have stayed at a hotel but they choose to stay with their blog "little sis". I looked at the house as my friends packed up to leave. It looked as if a testosterone bomb had gone off in here, guns, ammo, knives squirrel gear and more than one badge.  It was loud and it's messy, and sometimes it's bloody, but I wouldn't have traded my life, my duty, and my bond with these people for anything. We shared the fidelity with people we were bound to protect, even if we didn't particularly like them. We've slept on the bare ground and we know the sound of a bullet as it comes at us, not next to us at some sunny gun range, that sound that breaks the barrier that most people live behind. We've discovered things that are not so much "shiny" as unearthing a grave with bare hands and sticks, revealing more than just the comprehension of bereavement and irreparable finality, but that which is visible only to each other.

I was going to hate the sound the garage door made as it came down as they drove away,  I would pretend the tears were allergies.  My husband would hug me and understand.

On the shelf, packed from the trip to my Dad's, is a stone, full of fossilized seashells.  When I was home just before he died, my big brother told me about it.  It came from the quarry we did our target shooting at as kids. He squirreled it away when it was unearthed, knowing what a find it was, so many miles from the sea.  He told me he wanted me to have it.  He then quietly took me to Dad's garage and opened a drawer where he had hidden it as a child, picked it up carefully and gave it to me.  We've both seen a lot in our careers, that we can't discuss, even with one another. We don't discuss it now, we won't discuss it after we retire, we won't write a book about it.  There's an oath we took and we honor that. The rock was his way of acknowledging that what I do is important, that no matter how many years pass, he is still there.

It sits now in my office.

On another shelf, behind a desk, is another stone, one that many don't look it, it's just another rock to be collected to most observers,  displayed along with other artifacts of memory.


The last weeks have been long, with time on the road, and fitful sleep. This is not quite the life I expected when I hung up my wings for another four years of education on top of two previous degrees and a return to service. But it's the life that fits what strengths I have. I've come home with brain matter on my shoes. I've come home with images a person should never see, playing in my head like a bad film, until sleep comes fitfully. Yet I come home with purpose. With resolution.  I've collected those moments of lives, of loved ones, in the minutes before they leave us. I collect what is left, carefully, gently and with reverence, cataloging the bare bones of all that is truly important, so that we can learn from it so that it doesn't happen again. Then I usually go back to an empty room.

After 9/11 while flags waved on cars, and taps played,  I thought, now people have to see, finally see that truth is fierce and unrelenting. But soon, most forgot. Truth  We cannot ignore it or change it, but we can change the way we live with it. The truth of 9-11 is that the world IS a dangerous place and being politically correct to the point of ignoring the facts of who hates us and who is quietly amassing nuclear readiness while we make nice and look good for the cameras, isn't going to end well.

I finished at the Academy in 2001 and September 11 occurred when I was still wet behind the ears, assigned some mundane tasks until "something happened".  It did. Looking at the images on TV of Ground Zero, we sat, stunned, waiting for travel orders while I tried to not let it out that I had a brother who worked at the Pentagon, his office there smoking on TV. There was no talk, just a breathing that bordered on keening, looking at one another, our team leader, with an alert, profound justice as though we had already seen through the flames to where we would be, the shape of the disaster of which we could not speak. That day was trial by fire.

When I look at that stone behind the desk, I can't help but connected to the event from which it came, vowing never to forget.  There is something about a physical remnant of such places, those hallowed spots in which the innocent died, that bears with it the same quality of perspective as those who stood in its shadow, as though the object itself is speaking to us. It speaks to us in silent and profound significance, whispering its own truths.

When I'm out in the field I remember as well.  Around me, there is only musing sound, as shadows hang aloft as if from invisible wire, hovering above what remains for eyes to see. A place severed from the living, spectral shadow among that place of circumscribed desolation, filled with the voice of wasted lives and murmuring regret. There, only those left here, who remember history, who will gather what remains, cataloging it for infinity.

As I turn off the lights, the last to leave tonight, I take one last look at a chunk of stone.


It sits in a mundane office, on a flat surface in bitten shadow. It sits near a place where work is done to keep many safe. Most don't see it. It simply sits, in dense stillness, filling the room, the dawn, the dusk, with silent voices. I don't hear the voices but I know they exist. Each morning to start the day in its shadow, warm and safe, we remember that no matter what heartache comes our way, it is nothing compared to what this piece of stone bears witness to.

Those that see it don't look at it closely. But it speaks of so much that our generation, and most of our leaders, will never, ever fathom - the quiet of a shadowed facility where honor stands watch and oaths are kept, a small stone weeps.

Never, ever forget.

- Brigid

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Adventures in Rental Cars - A Brigid Guest Post

 Economy Car - a small pellet shaped object that can carry you to the scene of the accident.

I've had some small "sub compact" cars in my day but this one was about the smallest I've had yet.  I fortunately asked for the bright red one, so at least I'd be visible even if I was no bigger than the red dot on a 7-Up can.  I couldn't help but utter "it's so small" and the young man processing my rental got that look that is often reserved for that phrase and countered with a cheery "it has NINE air bags".  I looked at him and said "honey, you could put the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in this vehicle with me and I still wouldn't feel safe".  But I did thank him for getting the red one.

It looked brand new and was sparkling clean.  Legroom was more than required for a hamster; the cockpit ergonomics weren't bad and the a.c. had the car cooled before I even left the parking garage.  But then I went to accelerate. The only way I can describe the sound is this:  picture the Cast of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" suddenly miniaturized by some magic shrink ray until they were all six inches tall.  Now picture Leatherface firing up his little chainsaw.  That's the sound the engine made.
It's a Toyota. something. Yanni? Yetti?  Something like that and it was my wheels on my last trip for Squirrel Headquarters..  I had arrived at my hotel. I'm amazed, not only that a human being can cover hundreds of miles in a couple of hours but that I did some of that in a car that was about the size of a 9 mm cartridge.  Then I got a start the next morning. I went out to the hotel parking lot and my car was GONE!  I was in a panic as auto thefts in the area were high, then I noticed that the Mini Cooper parked next to it was blocking my view.

I have rented a LOT Of vehicles over the years. Over the last ten years, I had to rent when I went to see Dad as his driving skills weren't good enough where I felt he was safe on the the freeway which is occupied by "Crazy Oregon Drivers" until you cross the Oregon state line wherein it's occupied by "Crazy Washington Drivers".  Plus he's a far distance from the international airport. Up until a couple of years ago when the keys were taken away as his skills degraded quickly,  he did really good around town and always offered to come get me.
But I did not want him trying to merge with giant semis and teenagers. There wasn't any other option. All of his friends were gone and none of the other family lived close enough to fetch me. The rental is an expense, but a necessary one, no matter how often I go there. But I went for a big vehicle, as there is nothing more unsettling then looking up at the undercarriage of a log truck, some of the logs secured by what looks like dental floss, on a rain-slicked highway.

The rental place I go to out West always has some chipper person who asks "what brings you here?"  I know they're just trying to be friendly, most people getting to them worn out after flying long distances. That would render anyone cranky, especially a particular redhead, whose suitcase went MIA, who now envisions buying something to wear at the only store by Dad's, a Big Box Mart with a ladies department full of outfits the size of tank parachutes.
So on that particular trip, I wasn't in a particularly good mood, and besides, they just saw me two weeks ago, and weeks before that, one of dozens of trips. They know me by name, they know where my Dad lives and that he is quite old which is why I visit so often.  They know I don't need a map to the house or the cemetery.  And still, they ask what brings me here.

The next time they asked, even though I was just there a couple weeks ago,  I gave them a little smile which can be either friendly or scary depending on if you're the good guy or the bad guy and responded with-

"Contract hitI'll be needing something with a large trunk."

The agent, as usual, didn't miss a beat, saying "that's nice, you want to upgrade to a full size then?"
I've had some interesting car experiences over the years, from the time I got a free upgrade to a full-size pickup truck to an assortment of cars the size of gym lockers that accelerated at the speed of rust. There was one "loaner" car that had likely traveled with Lewis and Clark and was given to my copilot and me to drive to our lodging. The next morning, there was a hard frost. There was also no ice scraper. Fortunately, that side trim that was flapping in the breeze was easy to remove and made a dandy scraper (honestly, it just fell off!). And we won't mention certain third world places where you want to check the car's interior for things that sting, spit or bite (Ack! Windshield Viper!)

There's no telling what city will give you what car.  I've rented a car from airports that you that were so new and shiny you could practically eat off the tarmac and got an asthmatic clunker that smelled like an ashtray and I've been into some fairly outdated  terminals where I have expected to get run over by goats as I went to baggage claim and get a bright shiny full-size sedan, actually made in America.
This last squirrel trip, I fared a little better, the car at least being brand new and spotlessly clean. But I'd hoped for an upgrade. Sometimes the compact is actually a normal sized car, depending on what the rental car company has on hand by the time I roll in.

But not on my return to this city where I am convinced the car rental agencies there have a special little ""Brigid" wing of the garage where they keep the gutless wonders. I am also certain they keep them parked nose down on a ramp so that my special Brigid edition rental car can simply roll down tcheckoutck out area and appear to have an engine in it, until it is past those spikes in the pavement that prevent me from bringing it back.
I remember the first time I rented on other than my own dime, and as directed, got the "economy" car. It was clean, bright, all four doors open as if the clowns had to get out in a hurry. I gulped and asked the rental agent "what kind of car IS that?". I swear the agent said it was a "Hyundai Accident". Perhaps that was "Accent". On second thought, I think the first was correct. But Dad's second car (his first being a 1984 Chevy Truck) was a larger Hyundai and he loved it for zipping around town on errands. So with a blue sky, a tailwind and a gathering where all I had to do all week is stand up in front of people and sound intelligent, I was determined to enjoy the drive.

As I accelerated onto the ramp for the freeway, trying to edge in front of this semi that looked JUST like the one in Dual. I remembered all the talk about how the human body can actually FEEL acceleration. I've pulled some G's in a swept wing jet.  I know what it's like. And this car, well this car could do that. Right? As I floored it, watching the semi truck come up rapidly on my car, the entire body of which would fit UNDER his bumper, I realized that I could actually feel a physical force, that of my body aging as the car slooooowly went from 35 to 60.

After watching everyone blow past me with the look, I wanted to get a sign for the back window that said I own a 4 wheel drive TRUCK, THIS is a rental. I got it up to 72 on a long stretch though. But at that point, the transmission started moaning like a disinterested hooker and the whole frame started shaking like one of those paint mixers at Home Depot.
But I made it, only checking once to see if the floorboards rolled up so I could put my feet down, yell Yabba Dabba Doo! and pass someone.  Just like today, another trip, another spot of safety and rest along this life's journey.

On the blog I talk of perspective. Being thankful for all we have. And I am. I arrived here in one piece. I have gainful employment that challenges me and sends me out in the world to perhaps educate others, to meet with like minds. It's getting to meet friends in the cities I travel to, putting faces to the names of folks I've talked to for years, fellow bloggers and their families. It's coming home to a husband and a furry black Lab rescue who is forever grateful for a permanent home.

It's freedom, of the road, of the mind, of the spirit. It's 80 degrees inside my vehicle and I am looking up at the bumper of a Volkswagen Beetle. But there is also Keebler fudge striped cookies melting on the seat next to me and a rough-hewn landscape out my window, the blur of trees as old as God, where sometimes above, a bird sings a plaintive and tremulous song that rises above the sound of the traffic. And if the brakes give out, I can simply turn on the air conditioner and coast to a stop.

Life is good. Wherever your road leads you.
-LBJ

Monday, April 24, 2017

Yom Hashoah

Holocaust Remembrance Day falls on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. This year that corresponds to April 24th. The day is selected to follow the anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto.  

As to the lessons to be learned from this remembering, it is the genocide chart from Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership that speaks loudest today.

“Without the right to defend yourself, and the right to possess the means to do it, all other supposed rights are so much hot air.”
― James Carlos Blake


Damn Google


The Wild Goose Chase

You know that Shakespeare coined the phrase, don't you?  And a bunch of others?  If you read Chris Lynch, of course, you'd already know that.  He has a bunch of Shakespeare trivia for The Bard's birthday, including the best Shakespearean dirty jokes.

How many people really need to go to college?

Maybe only 15%.

This is really interesting.  I've written at length that you don't even need to graduate from High School to get a job in tech (yeah, yeah - it's better if you do).  Instead of expensive college, (free) self-study towards a Cisco CCNA certification will open the doors to a $40k + entry level networking job.  Add in a CCIE certification and ASA Firewall/IPS specialization and you're looking at six figures.

All without a degree.

But most other jobs don't really require a sheepskin, either.  The implication, then, is that the higher education lobby/interest group will continue to push "free college" and laws that mandate degrees (I hadn't known until I read the link above that Washington DC just passed a law saying you can't be a child care worker if you haven't graduated from college; this simply boggles the mind, and is right up there with the 100 hours of training and licensing to braid hair).

But as more people realize that a college degree has been devalued over the last 30 years, we can expect to see more of these laws as campus bureaucrats try increasingly desperately to use the law to extract money from lower income people.

The discussion of the hypocrisy of people who proudly claim to be lefties using the law to screw over the poor is best summed up here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Out riding

The local Harley Owners Group has a bunch of rides. This one has gone back roads through northern Maryland, past Camp David, to a fried chicken joint in Thurmont (Kountry Kitchen).

I like back roads for the twisties, and this one has it in spades.

Vincent Lo - Fugue on the Nokia Ringtone

The fugue is a musical form where two or more instruments each play the same melody, alternating or at the same time.  The word "fugue" comes from the latin word "to chase", and that actually describes the form of the composition perfectly - the various instruments chasing each other around the entire score.

We've seen this musical form here before, Bach's "Little" Fugue and his more famous Toccata and Fugue.  Bach was by no means the only composer who wrote these - we've also seen Adam Falkenhagen's Fugue in A Major here.

But all you really need is a tune to make a fugue.  Vincent Lo took the (once famous, now forgotten) ring tone from Nokia cell phones to create his take on the form.  For some reason, this made me grin.