Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


     Wishing all of you Peace, Love, Joy and Happiness both now and in the coming New Year.
     With Love and Blessings,
The "O'Shea" Family

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unintentional Humor: NASA Edition

     This brief article was in the December 2009 issue of Popular Mechanics, and regards JPL researcher's attempts to study the weightless state, with the overall goal of preventing bone deterioration in astronauts.

     The scientists "...have succeeded in levitating small mice using a 17-tesla magnet. The magnetic field is so strong that it affects the water in the animal's tissues, prompting a repulsive magnetic forse that suspends the rodent in the air. It takes a superconducting magnet operating at minus 456 F to float a 10-gram mouse within a 2.6-inch bore, which is kept at room temperature."
     "The magnetic field is applied evenly to keep the mice hovering in place..."

(and here's the part that sends me into totally unreasonable giggle-fits every time I read it),

 "...and scientists say rodents acclimate to the test in about 4 hours."




     Yeah, but for those four hours...

     I mean, for their little brains to be overwhelmed with little mousey, "WTF!WTF!WTF!" thoughts for four solid hours?
     And then, how do you know that they're "acclimated"? Do they just suddenly realize, "OK, I'm floating. It's cool".
     And is someone observing them to see when the "Oh, $#*t!" look leaves their little beady black eyes?

     I'm sorry, but every time I read into the implications of that single dry statement, the old ethologist in me gets the giggles. Poor little mouseys.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...Not Dead Yet...

     A quick note on my absence:

     My schedule and routine has changed significantly. Computer time is limited to a brief period in the morning (like now). Personal use of the computers at work is iffy, even at lunch. No time at all between after work and bedtime. Weekends we've been out of town or crazy-busy getting ready for the Holidays.

     I still have things to say, and I still love you guys (awww...*sniff*). When I can, I'll try to toss up a quick post, and then work out a way to get some actual wordsmithing in.

     Watch this space...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pattern of Behavior

     You have probably heard on the news that Julian Assange, the slimebucket responsible for the Wikileaks brouhaha, is being sought by Interpol on "unrelated charges" of rape and sexual molestation of two women in Sweden.

     Unrelated? I disagree.

     Sounds like this guy has a habit of screwing over the innocent for his own morally twisted needs, with a total disregard for the effect of his actions on others. A narcissistic sociopath of the highest order.

     And since he is responsible for embarrassing the likes of China, North Korea, Israel and various Middle Eastern countries, probably a dead man walking.

     For myself, all it would take is to be one of those women's fathers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Test Post from Kindle

New Kindle.
Seeing if I can post reasonably well from this device over a 3G connection.

(From computer): Well, ain't that nifty...
Awkward, but possible. My world expands a little.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Three Ages of Cat: A Haiku Trilogy

The tumbling fluff
eyes full of God's innocence
attacks his cloth mouse

Lean lord of shadows
sniffing lust at the window
moans coarse in the dark

Fat sage of the fire
who sits content in wisdom
seen through half-closed eyes

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zombie Overload

     I'm reading World War Z, have watched the first installment of "The Walking Dead", and just spent some quality time playing Left 4 Dead. Too much? Am I feeling scared? Paranoid?
     Actually the main thing I'm feeling is an obsessive urge to buy a Saiga 12 gauge. I always thought they were kind of neat before, but now they've just got "Zombie Gun" written all over them.

     A couple of notes regarding some of those other items: World War Z is pretty interesting so far. The detail and complexity of it is very impressive, and very absorbing. And if you haven't seen "The Walking Dead" yet, get in on it while you can at the beginning. This is easily the best cinematic representation of the zombie apocalype since, well, anything George Romero has ever done.
     To make things even more interesting, the zombie mythology, if you will, is very consistent between WWZ and Walking Dead, so you can immerse yourself in the "reality" of each.

     Right now, though, I think I'm going to take a break and go watch something a bit more lighthearted.
     Like Zombieland.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wow. Just Wow...

     I can honestly say that I never understood the depth and character of the pro-Obama liberal mindset until I saw this:

                 "Fear-mongers deliver victory for Republicans".

     Granted, this is Chicago, where a reality-distortion field seems to be in effect that only Larry Correia could adequately describe.

     Best read with a strong adult beverage and some blood pressure meds. All I had was a Prozac and a cup of coffee.
     It didn't help.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voted

     Did my civic duty yesterday.

     The wife and I actually tried to vote early while I was off last week, but that would have meant voting at the courthouse. I didn't mind de-weaponizing myself as much as it was a parking issue for the wife.
     For a government building, their handicapped accessibility is minimal, and usually occupied by judges and staff.
     Seriously. I even stopped a police officer about it one time, and he said, "Oh, that's old judge So-and-So. He doesn't get around real well any more, so we let him park there." Said while looking at my wife in her wheelchair. Nice.
    
     Anyway, I went to vote after work at a nice church school gymnasium with about one hundred or more people, winding around in a long line toward a grand total of six voting machines.
     After the hour or so in line, people were leaping at the freshly vacated booths like seats on a ride at Disneyland.
     My turn came, and I employed my strategy: if there was a Libertarian on the ballot, I voted for them. The "R's" took precedence over the "D's", if that was my only choice, and any incumbent was out.
     My wife asked me, "Who did you vote for?"
     "I have no idea", and explained my strategy.
     "But that's not fair - you don't even know these people."
     "Honey, sometimes, it not about voting for people, or even against people. Each of these people has aligned themselves with a set of ideas, and I'm voting against some of these ideas."

     Of the people, by the people and for the people, and all that. But it's the ideas that are dangerous.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vacation


     Had a well-deserved week off.
    
     Besides catching up with various chores and running around doing useful and/or entertaining errands, we took a couple of days and went down to the lakehouse to see Barrett and the kids (notice how he gets first billing?).

     All too often we take a vacation and fail to enjoy it. Having grandchildren eliminates that possibility. Besides, you can always learn from example - the boy clearly knows how to relax:


     Normal Life, work, gunblogging and other traditional activities will resume shortly.

     But right now, I'm good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back from the Gunshow...

     Not much luck. And I had forgotten about one aspect of these shows, at least at this location: clogged aisles. The tables are set just barely far enough apart for people to browse on either side, and allow folks to squeeze between them down the middle. Theoretically.
     In actuality, you have several hundred overweight Bubbas with backpacks and their Daddy's old deer gun on their shoulder. Throw in some old men with canes and a few couples pushing baby carriages, and you spend more time dodging, waiting for people to move, and saying, "Excuse me", than you do gun-browsing.
     Don't get me wrong - I think Bubbas with deer guns, old men with canes, and baby carriages are wonderful. But when I'm trying to get close enough to that Smith on the table to see if it's a Model 10 or a 13, somebody needs to make a hole.

     Otherwise, it was standard fare. Lots of black rifles and black plastic guns. The ubiquitous pepper spray, stun guns, beef jerky, t-shirts, tacky stamped-steel swords and knives, bumper stickers and signs ("Beware of Dog: He Gets to Eat What I Shoot"), etc.

     Some things I noticed:
     - If it's old looking, and you want people to think it's worth a lot, put it in a glass case. A beat up $100 derringer in a closed box with a couple of old pocket knives and a black-and-white picture of your grandaddy automatically quadruples in price.
     - Everyone ignores the signs that say, "Please ask before handling".
     - This problem is compounded when an item says, "Not for Sale - Do Not Touch".
     - The guy selling the Super-Duper Apocalyptic Survival Kit doesn't look like he could hump a gallon of water across the room without having a stroke.
     - And just how many Mosin-Nagants did they make, anyway? Jeez.

     Ultimately, I found one item that interested me enough to talk to the dealer about. A Ruger Model 44 carbine. It has the same look and lines as a 10/22, but chambers a .44 Magnum cartridge from a tube magazine. I don't know why I like this gun so much. It's just a neat, light, well-balanced carbine in a knock-you-on-your-butt pistol caliber. They are primarily considered deer guns, especially in short range brush-gun situations. I think it'd make a hell of a hog gun. Mainly, I just like it.
     But not enough to pay what he was asking.
     When I asked to see it, he immediately started telling me about how he had mowed lawns as a kid all summer at a dollar a yard to save up for this gun. Considering he was no spring chicken, and the Model 44 was first introduced in the early 60's, my BS meter was pegged right up there with my annoyance level.
     I finally got him down to business, and we quickly reached an impasse. He would go no lower, I would go no higher, and about 50 bucks separated the two valuations.
     So be it. I dropped by the fine folks at Georgia Arms, stocked up on fodder for my existing inventory, and called it a day.

     Well, almost. Blue Steel over at Point Blank Range mentioned in his Moby Dick post (cool pic, by the way...) that gun shows are great places to meet family and friends. On my way out, I ran into an old best friend and shooting buddy (who I've actually mentioned before) that I hadn't seen in way, way too long. He was accompanied by his much better half, who apparently has been bitten badly by the SASS bug. We caught up with each other for a good half-hour, and made plans to get together, and maybe get back out to the range one afternoon. About then his lovelier half mentioned that we needed to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.

     Seems we were clogging the aisle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gun Show this Weekend.

     I don't have a particular shopping agenda for this one. That makes me both more flexible and less focused, which may be a dangerous combination.
     I'll take the usual items: money, borelight, magnifier, faint glimmer of fiscal responsibility, etc... I'll try to remember my C&R bound book this time, in case there's some old fellow with a pristine 1903A3 for $300.
     Right.
     And that's the delusion - that somehow the huge volume of product we see at a gunshow will lead to incredible bargains. Wrong. This ain't Walmart. This is a conglomerate of individuals and small businesses, all of whom are running on a thin margin, and hoping the volume of customers will work to their advantage.
     No, the fun of the gunshow is in the wonderful variety of pick-up-and-fondle firearms available. See something that interests you? Ask politely, then hold it, cradle it, feel the weight, the balance. Price almost fair? Negotiate a bit. Wave green cash. Be fair and reasonable yourself. If you're really serious, inspect.
     Be careful about breaking out the borelight and magnifying glass, though. That says, "fish on the hook" to the dealer. I have been known to do a thorough inspection, negotiate price, and end up saying no. This is where being a gentleman helps. I always explain my reasoning, and thank the vendor for the time he or she has taken with me. Most of the time the parting of ways is amicable.
     Sometimes, of course, I walk away with the gun. Six months later, I'm always happy with the gun, and if I even remember what it cost, I usually don't care.

     So we'll see how it goes. If all else fails, I'll pick up a can or two of ammo at the Georgia Arms booth (nice people, good ammo, decent prices).
     There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday.

    

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So there I was...

...watching President Obama on "Mythbusters."

     "Mr. President, we've changed our mind about the Archimedes thing. Just climb up here with Kari. Yes, sir, right there."
     "Now what we have here, sir, is a Dillon Aero vehicle-mounted minigun, and about a million or so rounds of ammo. We decided that that little tree in the other episode wasn't much of a challenge, and we want to see how many of these telephone poles you can take down in 15 minutes."

(15 minutes later...)

     "Sir, are you OK?"
     "Yees, whaasa madda wis my moooth?"
     "Oh. That's just what we call a shit-eating grin, sir. It'll come back down from your ears in a minute. Fun, wasn't it?"
     "Yees!"
     "So do you understand now, Mr. President?"
     "?"
     "About shooting. I mean, self-defense is obviously a basic human right, right?"
     "Well, yeah..."
     "And hunting is simply part of who we are as a natural biological entity, right?"
     "Uh, OK."
     "But you understand now that sometimes shooting guns is just all about shits and giggles, right?"
     "You know what, you are right! I've been so foolish! Let's have free access to firearms at the Federal level!"
     "We already have that, sir, it's called the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights."
     "Oh, yeah. Well, CCW for everyone, no more bans on meaningless gun parts, and no more restrictions on suppressors and full auto. In fact, get these Dillon people on the phone - I got to get me one of these!"

...and then I woke up.


    

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Life in the Lab

     From another patient information form:

     Reason for Hospitalization: "Blunt force trauma to head."
     Date of Hospitalization: "I don't remember."

     Fair enough...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Federal Catch-22?

     Many of you reading this have purchased a firearm or two at some point, and so are familiar with Form 4473. For those who might be unfamiliar, this is where you tell the government (specifically the BATFE) exactly who you are, what you are, and where you are. Then you answer a series of questions with perfect and complete honesty about whether or not you are a notorious criminal or other dangerous or unsavory person.

     Ex: "Are you a fugitive from justice?"
           "Why, yes, actually. See contact information above for current whereabouts."

     The idea, presumably, is that in addition to being prosecuted for gunning down a casino full of nuns, you could also be charged with lying on your 4473.

     I was thinking recently about one of the questions which asks (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here), "Are you a member of any organization which seeks to overthrow the government of the United States by force?"
     Well, no.
     Because when I see that question I think Al Qaeda sleeper cell, or the Mahmoud Ahmadinijad Fan Club. But those of us who follow the discussions surrounding the 2nd Amendment have repeatedly read that the purpose of the amendment, the reason for an armed citizenry, is for that very reason.
     So has the federal government imposed upon us the ultimate Catch-22? Has the government, in the form of the BATFE, set up a situation where they may safely impose tyranny upon a populace legally helpless to purchase the means to defeat them?

     Actually, no.
 
     Those who may feel this way are probably thinking of the statement by the founding fathers that if a government becomes too destructive, then "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government".
     Well and good, except that I have seen some refer to that principle as a constitutional right. That statement does not appear in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and therefore is not a principle of law (actual lawyers , let me know if I'm wrong here).
     It is, in fact, from the Declaration of Independence , and that whole paragraph should be read to put the statement in perspective. Even in the context of this declaration, which is to enumerate the oppressions inflicted upon the colonies by England, and to therefore justify our lawful separation from their rule, the founders were careful to qualify this sentiment. The following sentence in fact states: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes..."
       So short of a political situation comparable to that of the American Revolution, that's not what we're talking about.
    
     And what about the 2nd Amendment? Well, what the 2nd Amendment does is provide a means for armed resistance should our government decide to overthrow us. In short, it acknowledges our right to defense - not offense. Big difference.
     Unhappy with our government? Aren't we all. So do what we are all doing - rally, go to meetings, speak out, and vote. The current anti-incumbent sentiment and nationwide anti-political mood in general has politicians almost as scared as if they actually did have a gun to their head.
     That's how it's done. Not by gathering ten of your best highly trained "operator" friends and storming the Capitol. That just gets you and your bereaved families on the news, and makes it harder on the rest of us gun nuts the next time the definition of "militia" gets debated.

     So on your next 4473, don't try to get all pseudo-constitutional and check that box with a "yes". Just take your gun home, go out and shoot it, and be grateful that you were able to answer another question on the form:

     "Are you an American citizen?"

     Yes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coming up for air...

     The afore-mentioned Monster Hunter Vendetta is proving to be at least as awesome as I imagined.
     I only have one question about what I've read so far:

     Vanilla Cokes, Larry? Seriously?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yippee!

     My pre-ordered copy of Monster Hunter Vendetta arrived today! Thank you Larry!


     Something tells me I won't be getting much sleep this weekend...

Why can't we all just get a bong?

     I caught a bit on the news the other night regarding the (likely) impending legalization of marijuana in the state of California. It seems that one of the groups opposed to this measure are... brewers.
     Yep. And their rationale is that pot smoking represents a significant public health hazard. The rebuttal from the marijuana camp is, of course, that alcohol is a far more harmful drug to individuals and society in general than pot will ever be. No really, dude. Like, seriously.
     And this is actually true, but does not address the specific claim by the brewers. They're not saying that pot is physically worse for you than alcohol, they're saying that if pot is legal, then employers can't drug-screen for it anymore, and we'll all be run off the roads by drug-crazed truckers or somesuch.
     Bullhockey. Everywhere I have worked, any on-the-job moving equipment accident of any degree got you mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Depending on what showed up, you were either fired, or fired and arrested. And really, from a law enforcement standpoint, driving impaired is a big no-no whether the departure from sobriety is a beer, a joint or an iPhone.
     Since the brewer's argument doesn't seem to hold up, this is being painted as a matter of competition. Competition? Since when have pot and beer been an either-or situation? Did these people not go to high school or college? Is "cottonmouth" just a snake to them?
     California's take on this is perfectly pragmatic: make marijuana legal, then regulate it (i.e.: tax the hell out of it). In a state where the marijuana bud is the state flower, and where the state's budget is being shored up by selling autographed copies of "Hercules in New York" on eBay, this makes sense.
     My take? I'm one of those libertarian-types. If you're not hurting anyone, I say you should be left alone. I'm personally agnostic on the pot issue - I was the guy in high school who hung out with the stoners, but passed the joint on to the next guy and drank my beer. I will say that none of those guys ever got violent or belligerent. Silly, yes, but not belligerent. And they were the ones listening to Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and reading Siddhartha and Stranger in a Strange Land.
     Alcohol, on the other hand, is another story. I love beer, consider myself a beer "snob", and was a homebrewer for a while. But when you start getting sloppy drunk and beating your babymomma in front of the kids, it's time to back off. Or smoke a joint.
     The late, great Bill Hicks had a routine where he said pot should not just be legal, but mandatory.   "HONK! HONK!**roadrage**HONK! HONK!".
     "Here, take this": (puff, puff).
     "Oh, man, sorry, dude. Must have been taking myself seriously for a moment..."
     So what's the deal with the brewers? I honestly have no idea. For what it's worth, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has gone on the record saying that they are not part of the stonewalling affort. Good on them. I consider their pale ale kind of a standard for a good micro/commercial pale ale. Not quite hoppy enough to be an IPA, but enough to make you smack your lips and say "Yum".
     So you want to look out your back door at all the happy creatures playing on the lawn? Fine, let the brewers stick to what they do best and make you something cool and tasty to wet your throat while you do.
     To each their own. And sometimes, "D - All of the above", is a perfectly acceptable answer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Made to Order: The Arrival

     Mmmmm...


     Nom, nom....



     I don't think that's what they mean by having good taste in clothing...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thoughts while Driving

     Why would you buy a perfectly good little car...


...and then ride around in the box it came in?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day...

...from Tam :

     "...people want to vote for someone who promises to make the trains run on time without ever asking where exactly those trains are headed."

     Think about that carefully until November. Then wait two years and think about it again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Made to Order

     When the Grandson was born, we naturally wanted to go bonkers getting stuff for him. Daughter said that toys were on hold for now (something about turning her home into Plasticville), but that books, clothes and college tuition would always be welcome.
     As a result, he has a fine wardrobe, and will be reading Dr. Seuss and Little Golden Books well into his teens. Still working on that college thing.
   
     The other day, an idea for a clothing item occurred to me: since he was (however inadvertantly) named for the Army's chosen .50 caliber disciplinary device, I thought I'd check out their storefront.
     Lo and behold, Barrett Rifles makes infant onesies with their logo. In digital camo, of course:


          And since right now his weapon of choice seems to be a sudden, overwhelming deployment of toxic waste, I thought I'd better get two.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Gaping Hole...



...in my heart.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Labor after Labor Day

     It was universally agreed upon by everyone at work that yesterday was the Monday of all Tuesdays.
     Our customer-service faces were very thinly plastered on, and Surly, Pissy and Snappy joined the dwarf squadron.
     "Oh, but you just had a three-day weekend. You should be happy!"
     Yeah, well, bite me. Three days is almost enough time to get used to the idea of what life could be like without work. Then Tuesday morning yanks the frickin' rug out from underneath you.

     *Grumble, grumble*

     I need a vacation, and I need to go shooting. For the sake of the firearms community's public image, I'll try to wait until I'm off duty to indulge in the latter.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Old Men

     The town I live and work in is adjacent to a large military base. We not only have the usual complement of active-duty folks in town, but also quite a number of retired military who have settled in the area.
     Our practice, naturally, sees a fair share of these. They run from middle-aged on up, but I like the old men. They are friendly, gregarious, and a lot of them have The Hats. These are black ball caps with gold embroidery. They'll say something like "Korean War Veteran", and be bristling with various unit and flag pins and whatnot. One guy yesterday had all of his fruit salad (chest ribbons) embroidered on the front of the cap.
     The girls in the office think these old guys are cute, and they are. Tiny, bent over, suspenders pulling their pants up to their chest, suit jackets two sizes too big for their bony little shoulders. And The Hats.
     I think they're great. Not only are they a lot of fun to work with, even (sometimes especially) the cantakerous ones, but I also respect them. They earned every gold stitch on that Hat, and that American flag lapel pin isn't just an expression of patriotism, it's a membership badge.

     The fellow I want to talk about didn't have the Hat or the pins. He didn't present himself obviously as military. He was just an old fellow in his 80's with sore legs. I was giving him an arterial Doppler exam, checking for "PAD", as they say on the TV commercials, or "po' circa'lation", as it's more commonly known.
     I always do a good general physical exam first; check pulses, look for ulcerations, etc... basically a good going-over to see what I'm getting into before starting the exam proper.
     This guy had missing toes. Now, amputated toes (or feet, or legs) are nothing unusual, but these looked more... random. Not surgical. He must have sensed my question, and said, "Frostbite."
     Frostbite.
     I looked up, and was deciding whether to ask him about it. Hunting? Ice fishing?
     He said, "In the Bastogne."
     I stopped dead. The little hairs on the back of my neck rose up. "The Bastogne? The Battle of the Bulge?"
     "Yep. Coldest I've ever been in my whole life."
     Then he rested his head back down on the pillow, and didn't say another word about it.
     Nothing about the misery, the blood, the noise. The confusion, and the overwhelming fear.
     I almost asked him about it, and didn't. I realized that my perception of that event came from watching "Band of Brothers".
     As well-done as that show was, I was humbled, ashamed even, to see the simple reality in front of me, and know that my best understanding of his ordeal came from a movie.
     I almost said, as I had to other soldiers, "Thank you for your service". It's an honest sentiment, and is expressed too seldom. This time, it seemed trite and inadequate.

     So we simply proceeded with the exam. Neither of us said much, but the atmosphere was friendly and casual. In the unspoken understanding that sometimes happens between men, we each understood the feelings of the other without cheapening the situation with words. My every action and tone conveyed respect, but without an embarrassment of deference. He was relaxed and appreciative of my professional efforts and my demeanor. It was a gentleman's agreement.
     He and his comrades had fought and suffered more than I could understand, and had literally saved the free world. I looked at the old man lying on the bed in front of me, and tried to see him as a twenty-year old, up to his hips in muddy snow, half-deaf from the incessant barrage, nearly out of ammo, and watching his best friends die around him. I couldn't.
     It was a situation where words were truly inadequate. But the understanding was there, and it was enough.

     We finished the exam, and I told him to come out when he was dressed and ready. At the front desk, I gave him his follow-up instructions and opened the door to the waiting room for him.
     He turned, and held out his hand. I looked him in the eyes, grasped his hand and said, very honestly, "It's been a pleasure to meet you, sir."
     He shook my hand, and as a small smile passed across his eyes, said, "Likewise."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not my idea of "Southern Style"

     By way of AD I learned this morning of a situation regarding a colleague of his named Robert J. Wilson . By all means click on the links to get the full story, but the gist is this: Mr. Wilson and his partner approached the individuals at Southern Style Granite for the potential purchase of some remodeling materials. They were asked about the nature of their relationship (!), and upon confirming that they were indeed, a same-sex couple, were rather rudely shown the door.

     This truly chaps my hide on several levels. First, the obvious - blatant discrimination based on sexual preference, which makes no sense in general, and even less in this case. More on that in a minute. The other thing is that these nimrods are putting themselves out there as representing "Southern Style". That shouldn't bother me - the business is in Baton Rouge, after all. But it does. 
     A lot of us southerners, who just happen to be intelligent open-minded individuals, are a bit sensitive to the "bubba" or "redneck" perception. You think you're making a little social progress, and then ignorant, inbred cretins like this come along. Actually, that's not fair. Calling them ignorant, inbred cretins is an insult to the knowledge-deprived and genetically challenged everywhere.

     Since, by virtue of my father's military service, I spent a great deal of my life in the north, allow me to qualify myself to speak on behalf of true southern folk.
     I was born in DeRidder, Louisiana, where the attending physician had to be instructed that a circumcision involves more than just cutting the webs from between the toes.
     Both lines of my family derive from southwest Alabama. Attempts to trace our family tree back more than about three or four generations show the information disappearing into the piney woods and red clay dust of the log trucks.
     I currently reside in the Great State of Georgia, where I obtain my CCW permit at a sign which reads: "Marriage and Gun Licenses" (Seriously. I'm getting a picture the next time).

     That being said, I consider myself to be a worldly, enlightened individual. I'm well-read, educated and fairly intelligent, and try to take a fair-minded objective view of issues. And far from being an exception, I can honestly say that many of the men and women I know and have known in my time in the South have been similarly open-minded. Not all, but many.
     So when Bubba #1 and Bubba #2 pull some crap like this, I am sad and angry. Not only for the the gentlemen who were insulted, but that the public perception of the redneck mentality has once again been perpetuated by the shameful few, while the rest of us cringe. "Southern Style", indeed. How embarrassing.

     So, then. To the other, and a very good point made by AD: these morons supply materials to interior designers. Interior designers. Have they never watched HGTV? My wife and I watch it all the time, and among the several very talented individuals, I have yet to see a squinty-eyed, chaw-spitting hombre check out a custom cabinet and say, "Nuthin' like a nice piece of hickory".
     It's usually a lot more hugging, hand-clapping, and, "I'm so excited - this is going to look absolutely fabulous!". And usually ridiculously expensive.
     So, way to alienate a big chunk of your demographic there, Cletus. Granite countertops all the rage? Not from your shop. Dumbasses.

     What I really fail to understand is why homosexuality bothers heterosexuals at all. To say that a straight person's sexual identity is somehow "threatened" by gayness is ludicrous. Cooties didn't work in the third grade, and they won't work now.

     The other arguments I hear are generally, "It's against God's Law". Well, maybe so. I won't presume to know the mind of God. But if that's the case, then you need to butt out. Let the Big Guy handle it Himself. People who deem themselves agents of the Lord concern me, and acting on what you decide to be His will is absolutely exceeding your authority.
     Try this: speeding is against the law of man, so on your way home tonight, pull over a few people who are running over the limit. See how that works out for you.
     Another argument: "I just don't see how a man/woman can be attracted to another man/woman". Well no kidding, Sherlock, that's because you're heterosexual. Sexual orientation is a complex mix of genotype, perceived gender identity and pre- and post-pubescent hormonal influences. Gay people are gay. Straight people are straight. Bisexuals are wired for both and are very popular at parties. Hell, I don't even understand why women like men.
     "When I think about what they do, it's just disgusting". Well here's a little thought experiment: go out in public. K-Mart, the grocery store, a ball game, anywhere. Pick out a random heterosexual couple, and picture them stark naked and doing the slickety-slap. Makes your skin crawl, doesn't it? I know pornography is a billion-dollar industry, but I think I'm safe in saying that generally, sex of any description feels a lot better than it looks.

     Now as for our fine examples of tolerant humanity down in Baton Rouge, I hope that every time someone Googles up "Southern Style Granite", one of these posts comes up that lays them out for the pustulent, slack-jawed microcephalic bigots that they are (I'll probably get a few hits on "chaps", too).
     Yup, say it with me: "Southern Style Granite" = ignorant, homophobic morons. I hope their business locks up and they only have one way to move their inventory.

     Eat rocks, you bastards.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Videocard Down!

     Sorry about the recent dearth of content here, folks, but at least I have an excuse for this weekend.
     It seems my big-bucks fancy-shmancy graphics card decided to fizzle out on me. On a Saturday morning, too. The very nerve. That's prime leisure time, folks! So I was left with a perfectly good computer system and a working monitor, and no way to see anything.
     The temporary solution was to run down to the local office store, and buy their cheapest card. I won't be playing Crysis maxed out, but I can see. The next step, of course, is to RMA the card, which means playing who's-on-first with the vendor and the manufacturer. Oh, joy.

     I freely confess to being a PC geek. I'm not a coder, and frankly get baffled by fairly simple networking problems, but I'm a gearhead. I like to build my own rigs, and tend to research components to a ridiculous degree, draw up parts lists, track prices and tech trends, and then save up and build my uber-PC.
     For those fellow geeks out there, the (currently dead) card is a Sapphire Radeon 5870. For me it hit the sweet spot of price, performance, heat and noise. I got it as part of a complete build earlier this year (along with an i7-920 processor, an Asus X58 motherboard, Windows 7 64-bit, etc...), when I decided that my six year old rig "Frankenstein", was getting old and inadequate.
     I loved Franky. Franky was indeed a monster: huge server-size full tower case, cutting edge (at the time) components, and most importantly, my homebrewed watercooling system.
     To the uninitiated and sane, the concept of buying the finest, most expensive electronic components you can afford, and then putting them in direct proximity to running water is simply not rational. The concept, however, is valid and fascinating. Quite simply, water has greater thermal capacity than air. It will absorb and transfer more heat. The cooler the system, the better it can perform. If you are overclocking your rig for performance (or just hot-rodding it for fun), heat is your enemy.
     Suddenly things like turbulence, boundary layers, thermal interface materials, lapping, etc... take over your thoughts.
     You research and buy pumps, hoses, custom waterblocks, radiators, etc... The end result can be exhilarating, and...



     ...ugly.

     Franky sat by my desk for six years, much as you see him here - no side panel, funky bluish-green tubes, and about the height and weight of a small child. An ugly small child.
     My wife hated it.

     My study is not the study she had in mind for me. She wanted shelves of elegant, leather-bound volumes of literature and philosophy, a fine desk and chair; oak and dark green leather, perhaps. What she got was my old college bookshelves crammed double-deep and sideways with Heinlein, Robert E. Howard, Burroughs, horror anthologies, etc... Family photos competed for space with Zeppelin and Pink Floyd CD's. One side of the room dominated by an old card table covered in a canvas dropcloth and littered with screwdrivers, files, stones, lubricants and assorted gun parts. My framed degrees and her picture on the wall, right next to the rifle rack.
     All this she accepted, but she hated Franky.

     So, when he became long in the tooth, and started running out of hard drive space, the petition for a new system was accepted. And this one is aircooled. The case is the HAF 932, High Air Flow, black, badass and elegant. High-volume, large diameter fans - actually quieter than the old rig. Should allow me to overclock the i7 from 2.66 GHz up to 4-ish easy.

     I'm happy, she's happy. Now I just need to get my gaming card back, and resume killing zombies.

Happy trails,
Rick


 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dry Spell


Fragile tumbleweeds of thought are blown randomly astray by the dry wind.

          A single idea howls at the moon; mournful, primitive, wordless.  
 It is answered by others, but each is alone. In concert only in their solitude.

         Dust clouds the mind. Shapes swirl like devils, taunting, formless.

One prays. For the clarity of a cool stream. For the slow light of dawn.
 And in the dark turmoil the answer:
Peace, Child. It shall come.
    

Friday, August 20, 2010

"American Cop" magazine

     I started getting this magazine by accident. When I got the first issue at work, I thought it was promotional. Then they kept coming. My best guess is that the subscription to American Handgunner (same publisher) that I never received got somehow bungled up.
     In any case let me make this clear from the outset: I am not a law enforcement officer. I have the utmost respect for the profession, but my law enforcement experience generally consists of being pulled over for speeding. (Note: if you keep a gun in your glove compartment, keep your registration and proof of insurance elsewhere. Otherwise awkward moments may occur that involve the phrase, "How would you like to proceed, Officer?")

     The format is the same as Handgunner, but more importantly, the editorial attitude is there, and then some. Practical, street-level, no BS articles and advice from cops for cops. Again, not being an LEO, I could not directly relate to most of it, but it gave me a much greater insight and even more respect toward one of the most underpaid, underappreciated, high-stress, low-reward jobs ever created. And I used to be a public school teacher.

     Gear reviews (guns! gadgets! computers! more guns!), dealing with administrative bullshit (not trying to be crude - the magazine has a tendency to call bullshit, well, bullshit), coping with stress, techniques for survival on the street, etc. Really interesting stuff. I can only imagine how cool all this would be if you actually were a cop.

     So check out American Cop . And to MattG , Lawdog , and all the other dedicated men and women of law enforcement out there, Thank You.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

They walk among us...

     OK, yesterday we found another patient who had listed "brain transplant" in their surgical history on their patient information form.
     Seriously. Not trying to be cute. Right there along with their appendectomies and open-heart surgeries.
     This makes twice we've seen this procedure listed. Two different patients. Same surgeon. Hmmm.
     Swap, maybe?

     "Honey, you seem... different."
     "Ah, must be the brain transplant."
     "Brain transplant? Where did you get the brain?"
     "I'm not sure. The jar said, 'Abby'... something..."

:)

  

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The CCO

     Discussions of the 1911 pistol usually revolve around the standard, full-size, 5" barrel "Government" model. With good reason. It is the original configuration for the gun, and is arguably its simplest and most reliable platform.
   The introduction of the aluminum framed Commander model, followed by its steel Combat cousin, got people thinking.
     Mainly, "Hmmm. I can have my 1911 and carry it too." (I know, people carry full-size 1911's every day. But it's a lot of gun, and not everybody wants that much size and weight).
     Then the Officer's model came out, and it was downright little. A shorter frame and grip, and a 3 1/2" barrel. Some people loved it, and still do. Some people noticed reliability problems with the shorter slide and barrel that weren't as prevalent with the longer barrels of the Commander and Government models.
     So now what?
     The grip's the part that that sticks out, so let's keep it short - how about we keep the Officer's frame, and then stick the shortest reliable barrel and slide on it - the Commander's. Voila, the CCO was born.
     "CCO" is an abbreviation for "Concealed Carry Officer". I always thought that was a misleading name. It implies that the base gun is an Officer model that has been optimized for carry. How, by making the slide longer? The 4 1/2" barrel and slide are there for maximum JMB design-spec functionality. The carry-friendly aspect is the shortened Officer-style grip. So by rights, it should be a Concealed Carry Commander, or "CCC".
     Anyway, this is as good a time as any to make a point: everything I've described up to now has referred to models of Colt pistols. We're not talking feverish wartime production, so no Remington Rands or Ithica's, and Kimber, Wilson Combat and all the custom and production/custom shops have not yet exploded across the landscape.
     So what? Well, most of what follows will refer to the CCO form factor, and I have no doubt that someone out there will protest that I can't refer to my Springfield Armory gun as a "CCO", as it "refers strictly to a specific model of Colt pistol" (insert haughty tone here). Well, guess what, my friend, so does "1911" (*Update: I'm wrong). And "1911" has officially become the "Kleenex" of the pistol world. Published gunwriters, and other people with lawyers attached to them, may refer to "1911-style" pistols, but most normal people will look at a Les Baer and say, "Hey, nice 1911". So with all due respect to the Prancing Pony People, a gun by any manufacturer with a 4 to 4 1/2" barrel on an Officer's-size frame is basically a CCO. Sorry. Have a drink. It'll be OK.

     When I first heard about the concept of a CCO, I was immediately interested. I had a Government model 1911, and loved it. Big. Heavy. Steel and walnut. Carry? I didn't think so. I was new to carry anyway, and was looking for the best of all possible worlds, and the CCO looked like a perfect solution.
     So here I am at the gun show, with a few hundred dollars in my pocket, and a roving eye. What I was actually hunting for was a S&W 625 in .45 ACP with no lock and in the half-lug Mountain Gun configuration. For a good price. Yeah, I know. Good luck, Charlie.
     So, striking out on that front, I began browsing. I passed on a very nice Model 28-2 for $400 (Stupid.Stupid.Stupid), then headed over to the bottom-feeders. At this point I was through tire-kicking and was just sightseeing. I figured I would look around a bit, stock up on bulk ammo with some of my money and go home.
     I skimmed over the new-in-box guns; I was looking for someone with a table full of old iron. "Used" to me means more interesting, and sometimes less expensive. I saw an old man with a motley assortment of pistols and revolvers. A 1911-shaped object caught my eye. It looked short - 4" barrel maybe. I asked if I could handle it. Whoa! Lightweight! The slide said Springfield Armory. Good. My other full-size was an SA GI model, and I was happy with it. Good steel, dimensions to standard spec; a good gun. The model on this one's slide was "Compact". Never heard of it before. Then I noticed the grip. Short. Officer-sized.
     "Interesting", I said aloud.
     In my mind: ("OMG!OMG!OMG!).
     "Do you mind?"
     "Go ahead".
     I checked for clear. Twice. Then gave her a good once over. No cracks, fairly good fitting, nothing obvious.
     "Dry-fire?"
     "Sure".
     CRRRUNCHHH!
     "Trigger's a bit rough...".
     No shit, dude. Massive understatement. Ever toss a handful of gravel into a running blender? Of course not. That would be really stupid. Anyway, that's how this trigger felt.
     And here's where I made my mistake. Instead of insisting that he knock about $100 or more off the price to cover the cost of parts and a trigger job, I said, "No problem, I can fix that".
     Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
     I paid the cost of the gun plus the stupidity premium, and took it home.

     I disassembled the poor thing, and jeez, what the hell? The sear looked like it had been polished with a chainsaw, and the disconnector wasn't much better.
      How the hell does that happen? No, seriously, these are Internal Parts. Did the former owner say, "Hey Dave, I left my Dremel at home - how about we just run over these parts in the parking lot a few times?"
     Anyway, it explained the trigger pull.
     Fast forward. The new parts arrived from Brownell's, and I tried again. Much, much better. Time to go to the range.

     This is where I discovered the minor glitch in the "perfect solution/best of all possible worlds" concept. If you take a gun, make it smaller and lighter, and keep the ammo the same, guess what happens? Yep. I was used to the firm but genteel "push" of my all-steel Government model. I pulled the trigger on the CCO, and it said, "BARK!". I pulled the muzzle back down from the ceiling, and tried again. "BARK!"

    Well, OK then. I actually got used to it pretty quickly, but it was a prime example of TANSTAAFL in action.

     In fact, when the gun ran, it ran great. I had never used three-dot sights before, and didn't think I'd like them. Well, they worked pretty well. The barrel lockup on this gun was much better than my .gov, and resulted in a very rewarding level of accuracy. The fit to my hand and the weight - the overall feel of the gun, was perfect. But the damn thing wouldn't run consistently.
     As a courtesy to those of you who've made it this far with me, I'll spare you a rundown of the wierd little hitches and glitches that this gun has presented me with. I honestly think the next step is a trip to Springfield. Then maybe to George Smith at EGW for a steel feed ramp insert. And finally maybe to John Harrison with a case of his favorite hootch and a really, really pitiful letter.

     Because I want to carry this gun, dammit. It's just too perfect. But in the meantime I'll be at the gunshows. Sightseeing. Because you never know.


* It occurred to me later that "1911" and "1911-A1" are of course military model designations, rather than copyrighted private company model names. So not only was I wrong, but invalidated my own point, and was a smartass about it to boot. Lovely.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pseudopost: Actual content to follow....

     I'm currently working on a long-winded gun post, so in the meantime, here's a picture of some dancing mice....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ivory Tower Academia

     The other day at work I was reminded of a picture I had seen in an old textbook of mine. After a bit of Googling, I found it:



     The image is of a small Paleolithic era carving known as the "Venus of Willindorf". What struck me is the great quantity of sociological and anthropological analysis that has been devoted to this carving's appearance.
     In many cases, significance is given to the fertility aspects of the image, based on the "exaggerated" depictions of the subject's anatomy.

     Why was I thinking about this at work? Because anyone who thinks that this image represents "exaggerated" anatomy has never worked in public healthcare. They've probably never even been in a downtown hospital ER waiting room in the middle of the night.

     Folks, this is a portrait of the Public. And the fact that it was the norm since the Paleozoic says more about humanity than any analysis of our needs to "deify an ideal of reproductive abundance".

     Hell, put a cotton shift and a pair of flip-flops on her, and she would represent a fair percentage of my call-in patients.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In the News...

     A few nights ago, Wife and I are watching the evening news, and coverage of the immigration debate was on. The talking head was talking, and they were showing footage of the demonstrators carrying their signs and chanting, etc...
   Then one of the signs broke through my protective anti-news fog and brought me to attention. DVR remote: rewind, pause. Stare. Blink.
    I have no recorded image to back me up, but I swear upon all that's holy, the sign said - and I quote:

                                 "ILLEGAL IS NOT A CRIME"

     .........!?

     Regardless of your views on the actual issue under debate, this represents such a perfect, clean failure of logic in favor of politics as to numb the mind. And I have no doubt that the person who composed, constructed and carried that sign did so with no sense of sarcasm, humor or irony.

     I can only laugh, or cry. And if my wife didn't have this thing for Shepard Smith, I'd be watching Mythbusters.    

   

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Origin of the Name

     This being the internet and all, it is not only possible, but preferable for many of us to operate under pseudonyms. "Rick O' Shea" is obviously not my real name. But I earned it.

    I've only actually been a shooter in the last few years of my adult life. I had a BB gun as a pre-teen, and picked up a .22 rifle sometime in my post-grad period.
     When I came to Georgia in the late '90's, I encountered colleagues who were into recreational shooting at the mild obsession level. The best I could do to participate was to dust off the old .22 and make little pings alongside their big pings.
     The desire for "Boom!" rather than "pop" was created, and soon I was the proud owner of a Ruger Vaquero and a Winchester 94, both in .357 Magnum. Everyone asked me if I was into CAS and SASS, to which I replied "Huh?". I was just being a kid again, and was enjoying myself immensely.
     One weekend, my colleague/shooting buddy/enabler said that an old friend of his was coming into town, and would I like to meet them out at his club's range and do some shooting? Silly question.
     The friend had a box of .357 reloads, and a double-action stainless steel snubnose revolver. In my mind's eye, I see it as a 2 1/2" barrel S&W model 66, but my mind's eye also remembers all my old girlfriends as beautiful. It was probably a Ruger GP100 or SP101. Anyway.
     I had never shot a double action before. My range experience in general was limited. I knew the Four Rules, and my understanding of the fundamentals was mostly academic. We were shooting at steel plates about 12x18" in size from a distance of, oh, maybe five to seven yards at most. I took aim at the center of the plate. Boom! But no "ding!". Again, boom! Nothing. Where were the dadgum bullets going? I was right in front of the target! Finally, boom! - ding! Yay! I hit it! I looked proudly at my comrades, and they were in spasms. It seems that I had been shooting furrows in the ground about two or three feet in front of the plate, and that last one had actually skipped up from the ground and hit the target.
    "Way to go, Ricochet!" "Nice ground game, Tex!" "Gopher hunting?" Ricochet, thankfully, was the one that stuck. (Well, "Tex" wouldn't have been so bad, if not very original. "Gopherbane", on the other hand...).
     Fortunately, after the mandatory mockery, we had a good session of new-shooter training regarding this thing called "flinch". Apparently (as determined by the old random-empty-chamber drill), I was squeezing the trigger with my whole hand instead of just my trigger finger. Pretty common rookie mistake. I was also closing my eyes in anticipation of the shot, so the last thing I would see was a perfect sight picture. When I hit that empty chamber and kept my eyes open, I saw what they had been seeing - the gun being yanked down into a nosedive while my whole upper body jerked and stiffened up.
     So then to the correction: firm grip - mental and physical separation of the trigger finger from the grip - Focus On The Front Sight - and bring the trigger back smoothly until Surprise!(Boom!). Even more surprising, "Ding!". Well, hot damn.
     We spent the next half-hour or so working on smoothing out the DA pull while maintaining sight picture, and reminding me that with eyes and ears on, I didn't need to cringe at the flash and loud noise.
     Anyway, that's the sad tale behind the nickname. And for those of you introducing newbies to shooting, bring a .22. Or at least some nice .38 wadcutter loads.

     And for those wondering, until then I couldn't hit a damn thing with the Vaquero, either. I was convinced that the name was Spanish for "shoots low and left".

Monday, August 9, 2010

Life in the lab

     "Your next patient's here, and check out her paperwork."

     "What?"

     "Under 'Race', she wrote in 'Human'..."

     "Cute. I just love it when people try to get witty on their patient information forms."

     "Dude, seriously. Did you see her? I think she might just be trying to reassure us."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why "Political Science" is an oxymoron.

- Because you cannot derive facts from an accumulation of opinions.
  

Might as well get the "Grandpa" thing over with...

     Earlier this year, our kids graced us with our first grandchild. To say we are thrilled is, well, you can imagine...
     I told myself not to use the blog as a grandbaby shrine, with pictures and cute stories, and more pictures, etc.

     HOWEVER ---

A basic introduction should be in order. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present:





     The finest man-child to set forth upon the earth. If I do say so myself.

Howdy, Folks....

     This is my attempt at a blog. Why another blog in the vast wasteland of mediocre ideas, political rants and general self-absorbed blathering?
     Because sometimes I have stuff to say and no one to say it to (at least, who would appreciate it), because sometimes I feel like I will explode if I don't get stuff off my chest, and because I read a lot of blogs every day from some very talented writers and thinkers, and presume to join their company.
     I feel in many ways that the blog is the new home of a great literary tradition: the essay. The bloggers I read may occasionally throw out a snippet of thought, or a quick rant, but often the longer posts are true essays deserving of recognition as fine writing by any standards.
     The title of this blog serves two functions - as a reflection of my rather obsessive interest in firearms, and as a descriptor of how I will probably post. Most of my thoughts come as brief statements, with occasional longer rants bubbling beneath the surface. Bullet points. Think, (breathe, front sight, press) think again, repeat as necessary.