Friday, September 19, 2014

Hooray! I found my holster!

Not for me, you understand, which is why I was so very, very annoyed at not being able to find one of my holsters. I found someone who wanted to trade my XD.45 for a Glock 19. The XD wasn't precisely what he was looking for (and he's still looking for an XD or XDM in .40 if anyone's got one) but he liked that I had two holsters to offer with it. But you know how one is none and two is one? Two holsters turned out to be one once I tried to figure out where I had last put the Crossbreed Supertuck I had promised to trade. It took me a week to find it (that's a week after the trade was made!) and I was actually planning to give up today and order him a new holster. I didn't want to do that, of course, but it was a little late not to deliver what I'd promised. Luckily, giving up and deciding not to look for the thing anymore did the trick (as it so often does) and I found it sticking out of a drawer of clothes this morning. No idea how it got there; the last time I remembered seeing it was when I brought it into the house from the trunk of my car about three weeks ago.

The first holster I'd bought for the XD had been a BLACKHAWK! SERPA, followed by a BLACKHAWK! Sporter, the same basic holster without the SERPA retention device.  I trashed the SERPA early this year after learning that a rash of negligent discharges upon the draw were leading many instructors to ban it from gun school. I never had a problem personally, and in fact I liked the fact that, with my particular draw, the SERPA lock button tended to place my finger high on the frame, nowhere near the trigger. But there seemed to be little point in taking the risk, especially for a holster I wouldn't be able to use at gun school, and once I found videos of SERPAs locking up when they got dirty, there was just no point in messing with it. There are a LOT of holsters out there.

I held on to the Sporter, because without the retention device, it makes an excellent holster for range time and USPSA competition. It's secure, the big front cutout aids in reholstering, and the paddle attachment is robust and well-designed. My only comparison, from personal experience, is admittedly a Comp-Tac International competition holster . . . but that sample of one left me unimpressed. I like the Comp-Tac and continue to use it in USPSA with its slotted belt mount, but the paddle is thin and fragile, as if it were designed to save weight. Mine cracked in two across the top of the mount the first time I tried to slip it on. The Sporter has held up to years of use. 

Anyway, all that aside, I didn't lose the Sporter. I traded it with the pistol last weekend, and I was pleased to find that my new Glock came with the same holster (with the paddle already mounted.)

No, I lost that Crossbreed Supertuck that I had customized with my own "Combat Cut." Back when concealed carry in Illinois was more of a possibility on the horizon than a fait accompli, I wanted to carry my modern polymer pistol in a modern holster designed for it, so I looked around and noticed that all the buzz was about these Crossbreeds and other "hybrid" holsters. They were supposed to be the ultimate in comfort, and that sounded good, and they were "tuckable"for the ultimate in concealment, and that sounded great. I picked one up when my friends at KAP Guns were clearing them out at half price, the owner having been offended by something Crossbreed had done on their last order.

And I carried that XD across Missouri and Kansas in that holster, and it worked as advertised. It really was pretty comfortable, and I began to realize how little attention people paid to the odd bulge here or there on a clean-cut guy with his shirt tucked neatly in. It was carrying that XD across the west that made me rethink my assumption that I would need to get a small subcompact pistol "when carry passes." But it was also bulky, and it was very hard to do anything more athletic than a brisk walk with a full-weight service pistol in it. Today, I don't have a "hybrid" for the Glock I carry, and I won't be adding one. Instead, I'll be carrying the G19 (once it's vetted with carry ammo, which no, I haven't done yet) in the same Raven Concealment Phantom I use for the G17. I use the tuckable belt loops, and unlike the Crossbreed, that holster is locked onto my belt and going nowhere. I've actually carried after the gym with the RCS Phantom on a Volund Atlas belt worn over my gym shorts with no problems. The Phantom is a big wide kydex unit itself, but still significantly narrower than the Crossbreed.

The biggest difference of all may come down to the difference in belts, since I've made big changes toward stiffer, stronger gun belts since I stopped using the Crossbreed, but it is this: the Supertuck allowed the butt of the gun to jut out far from my side, while the Phantom causes it to tuck in. I can wear a G17 just behind my hip, and I'll feel the grip against my back most of the day. I *like* that feeling; it feels like I can wear a better-fitted shirt without giving away the game. I don't have to wear tighter shirts, of course, but I've lost 110 pounds over the last two years, and I'd hate to have to keep wearing big baggy stuff just so I could carry a big, bulky gun.

(Speaking of which: I've only tried on the G19 for a few minutes at a time, but I can't believe the difference such a small change in grip length makes. It may be that one day I'll have that G17 cut down to 19 length, if it's that big a payoff. We shall see.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One is none, and two is one, and three is some, and math is fun!

I'm pretty excited about a Glock 19 over here. I killed two birds with one stone over the weekend* by trading a .45 XD for the slightly-more-compact Glock to go with my G17. Also put an end to that disturbing one-gun-long "new gun from a gun store" streak. Don't want to let that kind of thing get legs under it.

So, if I understand this correctly, I had one copy of my carry pistol before, and now I have added a second. This leaves me with one, which is much better than before, when I had none.

But seriously, folks, I'm pretty happy about this. I plan to vet the G19 and start carrying it daily, while the G17 will wear the yellow 5.11 training barrel most of the time so I can dry fire whenever I want. That should make it a lot easier to dry fire daily for awhile, which should make it easier to do more serious work in dry fire. After that disqualification at Lefthander's club match last week, I've been working on movement with the gun, and using the yellow barrel makes me feel like maybe I dare dry fire in the back yard. Not sure about that, but there should be a lot more dry fire when I don't have to unload my actual carry gun to manage it. The G17 will also become my "gamer gun" for now.

Next Glock question: what sights to put on the G19.  I've been pretty happy with Warren Tactical 3-dot night sights on the 17, especially after I bothered to sight them in at 25 yards and see what kind of sight picture I needed to see. On the one hand, that argues for the same sights on the 19. On the other hand, it's a chance to try something like the Trijicon HD's that Tamara and the rest of the internet like so much. It wouldn't concern me to have different-looking sights, necessarily, but I'd like to have similar sight pictures for both guns in terms of where the point of impact is compared to the front sight.. We'll see.

*It literally takes a weekend to trade handguns with someone in Illinois. Meet in the parking lot at Scheels on Friday, (they don't have to worry, I went in and bought much more profitable items than a used Glock) make a deal, then go home and wait to meet up again on Monday to exchange the guns. After all, if I'd handed over the XD and he'd handed over the Glock on Friday, why, we'd have had guns.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cullen L. Cullen is a real person, not a pseudonym used to write Twilight fanfiction. (Probably.)

I know nothing about Cullen L. Cullen except that he's the Superintendent of the Venice, IL school district, he looks like a stock photo named nerdy_dad_001.jpg, and he's running for the Illinois House of Representatives as a Democrat (he was unopposed in the primary, natch.)

And that's pretty much all I needed to know. If I were being greedy, though, a FAQ section that included the question, "So . . . what's the deal with your names?" would have been ideal. In its absence, I feel justified in imagining that Enrico Fellatini, a mild-mannered school administrator, never expected to be swept off his feet by a YA urban fantasy novel, but the Twilight series was just too much for him, and before he knew it, it had somehow become clear to him that he had to change his name--in a very real, and legally binding sense--to reflect the fact that he is, at heart, not only a Cullen, but the Cullen. The very most Cullen that there could ever be. 

Cullen Cullen.
I have not altered this photo of Cullen L. Cullen ( in any way.
(But of course that email address is fake . . . as far as I know.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

What are you training for? What can you do on demand?

When I talked about making my first 5K run in 18 years or so, I said it was a milestone for me. At first glance, maybe that doesn't make sense if you've been a runner for awhile. Maybe 5K isn't much of a challenge for you; in fact, if you look it up, you'll find that one of the main reasons 5K races are so popular as fund-raisers is that they're considered friendly to "non-runners."

But for me, being able to run 5K wasn't the whole story. What mattered more to me was that I was able to run it without a lot of specific training. It was the fact that my general fitness has reached the level where I can go out and run 5K on demand without getting hurt, without getting worn out--literally running that far for fun.

Training for life, not for an event:
That's the biggest change in my overall health and fitness goals in the last few years. I am not training for some single event anymore. I don't train to be a better football player, and I don't train to get a BJJ blue belt. I can switch that on temporarily any time I want (currently, I'm still working toward a weight goal that will allow me to go skydiving) but the real purpose is to build a body and mind that can be adapted and pressed into action for whatever athletic goal I come up with next. I looked at the people I truly envied for their athleticism, and what I noticed was that most of them were capable of doing whatever they wanted with their athletic skills. If they wanted to learn jiujitsu, they could start today. If they wanted to go skydiving or climb that tree over there, they didn't have to say, "Wouldn't it be great if I could get in shape to do that?" They were in shape . . . they were ready for their next interest to come along, even though they didn't know what it would be.

I mentioned that my fitness coach is on vacation this week. I'll be back in the gym with him tomorrow morning, first thing, but this week he was out of the office. What was he doing? He sent photos of himself riding a Flyboard in the ocean somewhere. This thing:

That is literally just a board with jets on the bottom to cause you to fly up into the air. Wikipedia says "physical strength is not important to perform the subtle control movements, but balance and coordination are important."  Translation: bench presses are not going to get you there without more well-rounded athletic training. And this thing didn't exist before 2011. I couldn't have known about it three years ago, but I also couldn't have ridden it three years ago. Today, I think I could.

What can you do on demand?
So that's where my fitness philosophy is today. Being able to get up in the morning and decide to run 5K on a whim without doing a "Couch to 5K" program or the like, that represents real fitness to me. Fitness, like shooting, is about what I can do on demand. A 5K run is not a high bar for a runner, but today, I can do it when it's time to do it, not "after I lose weight." That's a big first step for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fitness milestones: 5K run.

I answered a question for myself yesterday. See, I've never been much of a runner. Actually, I've hated running. In high school, I played football, a sport where if I ever had to run 100 yards at once, I'd be on a highlight reel. That was no accident. I did run track for my last two years of high school, but just about by accident. My favorite teacher coached the track team, and he pressured me into throwing shot put and discus by convincing me that all the running the team did would make me a better football player. Back then, I cared a bunch about that for some reason. Probably hormonal.

I never amounted to anything in the shot or the discus, 'cause it turns out those are more about skill than size, and I didn't have any. And of course, in a foot race, I was a 6'1", 260-pound ape, and nobody was worried that I'd catch anyone. But there was a race where I could contribute to a track team: the 3200 Meters, or as we called it, the Two Mile. See, even most of the real runners hated the Two Mile race, and often at a triangular track meet there would only be two or three contestants entered. If I entered, I could place--and earn points for my team--simply by grinding it out and refusing to quit until I finished the race. There was one meet at our home field where I had to move outward on the last straightaway because they'd begun setting out the hurdles for the 110 before I finished my two miles, but I did finish it. I recall running about 10-minute miles and finishing the race in 20 minutes and change most of the time. In those days, two miles just about killed me, and I often wanted to stop before the race was over. Then I went to college, did no distance running for football anymore, quit football and began gaining weight steadily. Of course, I got back into shape quickly when I got married, but having kids was what really pushed me to get jacked . . . 

No, wait. That's the opposite of what happened. I ballooned.

Anyway, present-day me has been weighing in at 259-260 again since the weekend, and I've also been thinking lately about trying to run a 5K. I've walked a few, but never really thought of myself as someone who can run a 5K. I wanted to attend one this weekend, but #3 Son has a soccer game at the same time. Still, the idea of running it was intriguing. My fitness work so far has not involved much distance running. I run laps around the gym, but that's not far; Wayne at HIPE is not a fan of long-distance running. Luckily, he's off on vacation somewhere this week, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him. I've also made the Fight for Air Climb three times, climbing the stairs at the Springfield Hilton hotel from the basement to the top floor, but that seemed like it might be too different. Could I run 5K, or about 3.1 miles, without stopping?

I started smaller. On Saturday, I took my car to have the oil changed about a mile from home and ran home. That seemed easy enough, so I waited until it was ready and ran back to pick it up. That made about 2.2 miles, but not all at once. Would I get a surprise if I pushed it further?

On Monday, I got up early and took off before the sun was up. My plan was to try to do two miles without stopping, but it felt good, so I extended my route a little and was well past two miles before I had to turn home to make it to work on time. Unfortunately, I hadn't gotten out of the house as early as I wanted to. I also hadn't paid attention to my feet, so I had the beginning of a nasty blister on one--but in terms of my lungs and heart and limbs, I felt like I could have kept the same pace indefinitely. I felt sure I could go out and do 5K when my feet were ready.

Yesterday, I got up, checked my feet, found them sound, and decided to go for it. It was raining a bit, but warm enough, and it felt great to run. I ended up putting 3.5 miles in without wearing out! I don't know what my time was, but I know I listened to an episode of "Welcome to Night Vale" (The Whispering Forest, to be exact.) I think I did 3.5 miles in less than 30 minutes, which would be a faster pace than I ever ran such a distance back in high school. I don't think that would be completely surprising, because I never really understood anything anyone tried to teach me about running form back then, and I think I run much more efficiently now.

This is a milestone for me, even if it may seem like no big deal to others. I think it's likely that by any objective measure other than maximum bench press, I'm healthier and more athletic now than I was when I graduated from high school. I "worked out" a lot back then, but I didn't know what I was doing. I was constantly injured and had little real core strength or cardiovascular endurance. Moreover, I feel like I'm on my way to lighter and leaner weight and greater and greater strength. I'm pretty confident that 36-year-old me could take 18-year-old me in just about any athletic contest, and I expect 40-year-old me to be capable of smoking 20-year-old me.

Monday, September 8, 2014

USPSA Lessons Learned

I learned six valuable things at my local USPSA club match yesterday:
  1.  In USPSA, I can leave the "shooting area" all I want without penalty; it'll only cost me if I fire a shot while out of bounds.
  2.  If a stage requires me to start with gun and "all magazines" on a barrel or table, it's probably worth it to put magazines into a pouch after the buzzer unless I want to hold 'em. I seriously considered firing the first two magazines strong - hand - only, and I did fire one that way, but I stuffed the third mag in my front left pocket as I went. Only afterward did I find out that retrieving that mag from a pocket forward of my centerline should bump me into Open with the raceguns. Oops.
  3.  My ability to call shots has improved,  and I shot all alphas faster than I've shot alpha - charlies and alpha - mikes in the past.  Dry fire and working with a timer are paying off. This is no time to stop.
  4.  Speaking of things that paid off, handguns are not magical. They have to be sighted in like any other missile launcher with sights. After I installed night sights from Warren Tactical, I continued to shoot Dot Torture at 5-7 yards like my life depended on it, but I didn't take the simple expedient of putting up a paper plate at 25 yards to figure out what sight picture I need to see to hit a plate at that distance. Of course, there was a classifier stage with plates at about 15 yards, and I shot over the top of several of them before I sort-of figured it out (I also shot into the morning sun without a hat, which is dumb.)*   To rectify the situation, I had to go back to my roots and shoot those paper plates. Sure enough, the Warren Tacticals hit precisely at the top of the front sight at 25 yards. If you try to center the front dot on the plate, and you accept a sight picture that puts it on the top half of the plate, you will miss high. If you use the sights as designed, this stock Glock 17 is pretty accurate at 25.
  5.  I need to train myself to move with the gun. I discovered this very important lesson by disqualifying myself on the second stage of the day. I needed to draw and move left, shoot four targets, then sprint right and shoot four more before dashing back to the center to move forward and take seven more targets hidden from view. Unfortunately, I was focused on getting a reload accomplished during each if those sprints, and when I ran left and brought the gun up for a reload in my right hand, I broke the 180. I was, of course, immediately stopped and disqualified. I took a break to bag up my gun and gear, then took over the scorekeeping for the rest of the morning.
  6.  DQ sucks (I don't even eat at Dairy Queen) but it's not the end of the world, particularly when you're trying to learn the sport. I picked up some ideas as I walked around watching everybody else shoot, and I still got to walk-through all the stages multiple times. It wasn't the way I would have chosen to spend my morning, but hey, at least I didn't throw a tantrum.

This actually didn't put me far off on my goals for the day. I wanted to call all my shots, and I did that until the disqualification. I wanted to look for alpha sight pictures and make up any shot worse than a charlie, and I did that (briefly.) I wanted to learn the sport and learn about this particular match, which I'd only shot once before. Done.
The failure was creating an unsafe condition. That's not acceptable, and tonight will be my first dry fire in the backyard where I'll run sprints from box to box keeping a SIRT safely downrange. Eventually I'll incorporate reloads into this kind of back-and-forth movement. I think being outdoors may create enough of a difference that I have to practice it that way at least some of the time; another shooter mentioned that training indoors with two big white walls makes it easy to miss the 180 when you go outside, and most of my USPSA experience is indoors in a single-bay range running one stage per week.

So, the real question: is this making me un-tactical and un-ready, as one weird knife maker used to say? Will I get killed on the streets? Well . . . maybe.
I think I know the basics of the differences between "tactical training" and "sporting competition." But I do think techniques you don't use under pressure are generally unlikely to be available under pressure. If you think you'll "just go crazy and gouge out his eyes" when some guy who fights every weekend decides to tie you up and smash your ribs, I'm skeptical. I feel the same way about my ability to run a pistol. When I can draw from concealment rapidly and securely and place accurate shots on demand, fix malfunctions on the go, reload quickly on demand and call shots under time and pride pressure, then it'll be time to worry about whether practicing the sport needs to take a back seat to practicing fighting. In the meantime, nothing I do for USPSA keeps me from practicing unarmed, learning more about OC spray, or working out how to be more aware and less likely to be caught behind the eight ball.
There really is a quantity of fun, simple enjoyment for enjoyment's sake, that makes it easier and better to train and practice. I predict that I'll get better at running a pistol by having fun in USPSA. If you don't need that, more power to you.

*Either practicing in hats and getting dependent on them will get you killed in the street, or failing to wear a hat in the street will get you killed in the street, but the hell of it is that I can never remember which one. It's a damned nuisance.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Counting Calories? Sure, why not?

Too Long, Didn't Read Version:

  • Old fitness plan: No sugar, low-carb diet, eat only when hungry, daily walking, HIPE Fitness 3x/week.
  • New fitness plan: No sugar, low-carb diet, 2,000 kcal/day, eat only when hungry, 10,000 steps/day, HIPE Fitness 3x/week.

If you've followed my fitness posts (hint: you haven't) then you know that I lost a lot of weight about a year ago. I still get asked about it, and I still tell people I've lost about 100 pounds in two years. But that's not the whole story. See, I lost almost a hundred pounds in about 12-14 months, and then I've essentially held my weight steady for about a year (bouncing between 265 and 275, depending on the day.) There was a surgery last fall, followed by a fairly long recovery, and I'm just now getting to the point in time when the doctors told me to expect my abdominal wall to be back at full strength, though I've been able to work out pretty hard since January.

Although I've added some muscle, I haven't been losing fat fast enough to affect my weight much for nearly a year now, and it's time to shake things up. My basic strategy for the last couple of years has been to avoid most carbohydrates and strictly swear off sugar, starch, and alcohol--essentially, a low-carb, high-fat diet with lots of meat, cheese, butter, eggs, nuts, and dark/leafy vegetables. I've tried to get most of my carbohydrates from vegetables like broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. What I haven't done is count calories; the idea was that as long as I kept carbohydrates low, the portions would take care of themselves (some people figure some bodies simply don't stick to "a calorie is a calorie," while others figure you'll sate yourself on a low-carb diet and your portions will come down without conscious effort.)  That worked well for awhile, but I've noticed that I've been sneaking some carbohydrates back in. I noticed one day that a serving of peanut butter only had 8 net carbs, so I started having one every once in awhile. That was fine until the day I realized I'd just eaten my fifth serving of peanut butter in one day! I've also noticed lately that my snacking/grazing has become an unconscious habit again, and I'm eating when I'm not hungry. There's no way to overcome that except to stop doing it.

So, last week, I launched a new effort.  I'm keeping the low-carb diet in place, but going back to basics by cutting out some of the sugary carbs I'd been letting back in (like peanut butter) and deliberately cutting back artificial sweeteners, especially the saccharine I've been dumping into iced tea like it's going out of style. I'm also holding myself to the most basic of all: I will eat when I'm hungry and only when I'm hungry. I'm making one and only one real change to the plan, which is to count calories and hold myself to that target. I'm also trying to keep myself at 10,000 steps per day, and on days when I don't make that goal, I take a quick run around the block to complete it at the end of the night. So far, I've only needed to do that once.

This morning, I weighed 266 pounds. I'd like to weigh less than 250 before Halloween and less than 235 by New Year's Day. On February 8th, I'll run the Fight for Air Climb at the Springfield Hilton for the fourth time (32 floors, basement to rooftop restaurant, taking the stairs.) I intend to do it in less than five minutes' time this time at a bodyweight of less than 230 pounds. Right now, I weigh just about what I did last time, although I'm definitely stronger. I'm excited to see what taking 40 pounds off will do for me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where are they now? "The Magic TimeWaster."

Remember in that last post about The View from the Porch shutting down, when I mentioned that we've all been in this game for a long time, and burnout is normal? Well, there's good news and bad news.

Good news:
The View from the Porch is back up as an archive. Comments are closed for crazy-person-related reasons, but you can go back and read VFTP again now.

Bad news:
I checked, and that first website of mine, The Magic Timewaster, also still exists.

That's actually an image of the "Idiots of the Web" page. Some of them have gone on to greater fame, such as the Westboro Baptist Church. Others, like the Creator's Rights Party, sort of disappeared. Still others, like the "World Church of the Creator," still appear to be humming along (despite the WCOTC having suffered a small setback in their mission to spread love and truth when their dear Pontifex Maximus, Matt Hale, went to federal prison for soliciting the murder of a judge.)

Ah, to be young again. Oh, look! A page entitled "Bad Poetry!" That's a bold gambit.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yesterday was a dark day.

Yesterday, Tamara's readers checked in at The View From the Porch and found this:

It's not an error. Tamara is finally fed up, and at the moment there's no guarantee she's ever coming back. I don't like it, but I've personally quit blogging several times, deeply annoying both my readers, and so I don't have a stone handy to throw at her house. Besides, if you've been paying attention for the last few years, you've watched Tamara's personal baseline of frustration mount ever higher, with no end in sight. Derpes is constantly breaking out all over the internet, and it seems to be the only reliably viral thing on the networks, flashing from computer to phone to tablet.  It's easy to forget that Tamara's been doing this--fighting a desperate rear guard against people saying dumb things electronically--since the last century. 1996 feels like yesterday to me, but it was 16 goddamned years ago. Tam might go back further than that; that was the year I created my first Geocities website, "The Magic TimeWaster," and it quickly evolved into a naming-and-shaming site featuring neo-nazis, a guy who wanted to become Governor of Georgia so he could undo Roe v. Wade by seizing nuclear weapons to hold D.C. hostage. Even then, some of us just couldn't look at this giant communications network without finding ourselves transfixed by The Dumb-Dumbs. It can be exhausting.

I used to get death threats with that dumb little Geocities vanity site, but I've never had to spend years--literally, years--dealing with obsessive misfits who thought we would be best friends (or maybe more!) if only I would wake up and realize that we were meant to be. Tamara gets that kind of a lot.
Of course, there's one thing we can all hold for certain and true: that difference has nothing to do with any silly liberal-arts-major notions of "privilege" or any other made-up goofiness such as that. Right?

Anyway, that's the bad news. The good news is that Tamara is not going away. If you've been paying attention for the last few years, you've seen her evolving into more of a "gun writer" and less of a social commentator. I look for that to continue in better-paying venues even if the blog doesn't return, starting with her cool new "Good Guys Win" column in SWAT Magazine and a whole mess of articles on this gun or that ammunition--the kind of work with deadlines, editors, and paychecks. Eventually, I expect to see the Tamara Keel byline on one of those "back page" columns that gun magazines reserve for the people you just know you want to hear from in every issue. It may not be in a paper magazine by that time, but as long as the implanted hyper-node uplink can handle advertising, there should be a way to work it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why is everything on Thursday nights?

So, tonight, there are four things I'd like to do (besides go home and fall asleep in a chair.)

  • HIPE Fitness Level One class at 6:00 . . . 
  • Springfield Tactical Shooters USPSA anytime from 5:00 to 8:00 . . . 
  • Illinois State Museum is hosting a reception for area teachers at 6:00 . . .
  • Hoogland Center for the Arts is putting on a Casablanca movie night . . . eating Moroccan food and watching Casablanca in one of their theaters.
These are all things I'd like to do, but I'm only one man. I didn't find out about the Casablanca night until this morning, so it was obviously far too late. Married people with children do not go out to movie nights on weekdays on one day's notice. So, that's out.

The museum event happens every year, and every year I talk about how I really should go this year. My wife attended it last year and said it was a lot of fun, but apparently it's one of those wine-and-door-prizes events. Essentially, somebody thinks all school teachers are women (or, possibly, that only the women show up for these reception events . . . might have something there) so they put together an event that caters to a certain stereotype of mature ladies having a wild night on the town. Wine and door prizes.

That leaves the STS USPSA night and HIPE Fitness. This is as much as I can manage in one night, probably. If I'm lucky, I can probably get to the range and get signed up to shoot by 4:30-5:00, especially if I help with setup. Then I can shoot it a couple of times before the biggest crowds come in and be out the door by 5:30. That leaves me enough time to get to the gym and get changed for the 6:00 class if everything works. My wife is going to the museum event, and she arranged babysitting for Number Three Son, so I don't have to rush home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On Signaling and Subtext in Married-People Texting

"En route to get Sean. The expensive pistol class is full, but I'm first in line if someone cancels. We got this Cub Scout thing. Hope you're resting!" 
"Don't forget to take food coloring to the meeting with you." 
"Thanks! :D"

Now let's look at that in detail, shall we?

"En route to get Sean." 
Translation:   Don't worry, I remembered that I'm supposed to pick up our son. (This time.) As long as I continue to remember it all the way home, I will probably get him before the babysitter closes, as far as you know.
"The expensive pistol class is full, but I'm first in line if someone cancels.
Translation:   Remember yesterday, when I brought up an Ernest Langdon pistol class in October, and I really wanted to go, and I suggested that maybe I'd take your van and sleep in the back, and you asked why not just get a motel? And I allowed as how the class is a little expensive, and you got me to admit how expensive, and then you sort of grudgingly accepted it, but you were fully on board with the van-camping concept, even though I'd started to think maybe a motel was more reasonable?
Well, by the time I contacted the class host, they were waiting on someone to confirm the last spot, and he did. So now there's no slot for me, which means you don't have to worry about how expensive it is! It's a clear win. However, I'm the first one on the alternate list and it would be unusual if no one canceled in the next two months, so . . . it's probably still going to happen. I'm considering stopping by the plasma donation place on the way home to see what the fund-raising potential really is.
"We got this Cub Scout thing.
Translation:   I'm on such a roll, I also remembered to cancel gym night and will take the little Wolf to his cub scout meeting. Have you ever wanted me more feverishly than you do right now?
"Hope you're resting!
Translation:  I'm also sensitive and caring, so I remember that you didn't feel good this morning. I just hope you feel better and you're getting some rest before your work obligation tonight. Seriously, I am maxing this husband thing out today.
"Don't forget to take food coloring to the meeting with you."
Translation:  That's all very impressive and all, honey, but we both know you completely forgot about this. You should probably thank whatever is out there that you have me to remind you.
"Thanks! :D"
Translation:  Shit. I did completely forget about that. It's not a great feeling, but I'm buoyed by the certain knowledge that in five minutes I won't remember feeling bad about not remembering food coloring. I'll just wonder why I have "SEAN FOOD COLORING" written on my hand.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hey, you like cheese? How about biplanes? Sure ya do!

I have made an important discovery: if you go to Osh Kosh Wisconsin and then go to the EAA Museum of Aviation, and then go out to the Pioneer airfield next door (listen for the tram announcement every 20 minutes) you can then, most of the time, pay someone $75 to take you up for a flight in an open-cockpit biplane.

No, really.

Sadly, they weren't flying yesterday, but I'll be back. It's only a six-hour drive (if you don't stop to eat.)
Or perhaps Madam would prefer the Ford Tri-Motor? Or Sir would care to view Lake Winnebago through the iconic bubble canopy of a Bell 47 while humming the theme song to "M.A.S.H."?
Notice the "Glastar"--a low-wing, bubble-canopy side-by-side two-seater--is "FREE" for kids between the ages of eight and 17 years? And I haven't even gotten into a couple hundred photos I took in the museum.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I can post cool cars, too . . .

The older I get, the more summer time makes me look wistfully at little red convertibles. Probably a mid-life crisis coming on.
Doesn't that look like fun? (In the summer . . . . )

Possible USPSA Production Pistol Technique Breakthrough!?

I got off my butt and went to the weekly Springfield Tactical Shooters USPSA club shoot, which is one stage, indoors, every Thursday night. It was a simple run n' gun stage, with eight silhouettes, nothing blocked, nothing hidden, but arranged with two in the open, one through a port, then five more through two ports. In Production, there wasn't much to think about; there were no long or difficult shots, and there was a longer movement between shots after the sixth shot--the obvious place to reload.

I had fun running it and shot 15 alphas with one charlie in each run, but at my usual slow pace. First run was about sixteen seconds, the second run was about 15. This was my first attempt with the new Warren Tactical night sights on my Glock 17 in place of the stock plastic pieces. I may not be fast yet, but the sight picture was a revelation. I have actually not shot a dot torture with these sights yet, so that'll be the next thing to check out before I make the drive to Memphis to try out Rangemaster next month.

That wasn't the breakthrough. The breakthrough was getting lost in conversation with one of the regulars who invited me to join a practice group that sets up a stage and runs it repeatedly with coaching every week. There's no way I can do both every week after school starts, but lack of a place and time to practice shooting with movement and decision-making has held me back, not only in the sport but in developing as a shooter. I listen to podcasts and talk about improving, but I don't own a timer, nor do I practice live fire outside of these little one-stage club matches. That can't go on.

So! Things to look forward to because I should get better:

  • As I learn these Warren sights, I expect them to make my job easier than the stock pieces ever did.
  • Rangemaster's Level II handgun course on August 15th, to get the rust off and learn Rangemaster's way of doing the basics. If I like it as much as I think I will, Rangemaster Level III will follow.
  • Practice outside USPSA matches, with coaching from A/Master/Grandmaster shooters.
  • Beginning with August 3rd, competing in full-length club matches the first Sunday of every month locally.
  • I haven't written about this, but my wife gave me Laserlyte's Laser Target for our anniversary. I've been drawing at it across the kitchen with the SIRT laser trainer for awhile, but now I think I'm going to find a place to set it up at 25 yards or so and practice at that distance daily. I need it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

#BanTheBox: What could go wrong?

From The Governor's Twitter:

Everyone in Illinois deserves a second chance when it comes to getting a job . . . and employers have no right to know (well, to ask, really) whether a job applicant has ever been convicted of a crime.
Look, I'm sympathetic to people who would like to turn things around after they've paid their debt, especially in a society where we've felonized so many things that most of us can't go more than a few days without committing one felony or other. But as Matt said the other day, the most reliable indicator of future criminal behavior is past criminal behavior. I can't see solving the problem of too few jobs for ex-cons by trying to force employers to hire more of them against their wills . . . . and I question whether this will do anything except lead more employers to be quicker to listen to "gut feelings" about applicants. How accurate will those gut feelings, as influenced by personal attitudes about race, sex, and appearance, be? Are we setting ex-cons up to get more opportunities at the expense of employers, or are we setting up law-abiding people to be judged too risky by employers who aren't allowed to ask about their histories?

I think you meant "ELL ee dee," buddy.

The Light Angel Store is spamming me with ever-more-threatening offers of outdoor lighting.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes: Highway Gunplay

Poor Matt Sinclair.

A judge here in Illinois recently ruled that Sinclair can't have his charge of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon thrown out on the basis that his (apparently allegedly loaded) firearm would have been legal to possess in Illinois, if only he had waited three months, paid a $150 fee, undergone 16 hours of mandatory training, and made application to the Illinois State Police for a concealed carry license (CCL) before waiting another two to three months for his license to arrive. Sinclair's argument was that, since there was a delay between the date that the old statute went away (by court order) and the implementation of the CCL program, he had the right to carry his firearm in the meantime without the permit.

I'm actually kind of inclined to agree with that argument in the abstract, but that isn't how our legal system works in any other case, so there was never much hope for these kinds of desperate moves from defense lawyers. As the judge pointed out in her decision, the law was in place and clearly stated that firearms couldn't be carried loaded in Illinois except with a CCL, and the fact that there was a delay before the CCL could be acquired didn't undo that, especially since everyone knew how long the delay was supposed to be.

I'm sure the judge would claim not to be biased against Sinclair's motion by the other facts of the case, but I freely admit that I'm not rootin' for him. See, Sinclair probably wouldn't have (allegedly) gotten caught with his firearm, except that Sinclair, who played linebacker for the University of Illinois Fightin' Illini and now coaches or administrates or something, got a little worked up on the way home from a game against Purdue in Indiana. There's a very nice lady who alleges that she called the cops because Sinclair "pointed a handgun out of his truck's window" at someone right in front of her on the interstate. For some reason, she panicked and called the cops, who stopped Sinclair at the next exit and (allegedly) found his gun and a set of brass knuckles, which are still verboten in Illinois to this day. It turns out that it was all just a bit of grab-ass hijinks on the highway--you know how boys can be. Sinclair was only pointing the pistol at another U of I staff member, and he was only kidding. The lady behind them somehow misinterpreted a guy pointing a gun at another guy on the interstate as some kind of dangerous and/or criminal situation, though, and here we are.

I'm peppering this with allegedlies mostly for the fun of it; Sinclair, his head coach, and lawyers on both sides seem like they've gotten past the point of trying to argue about whether Sinclair actually pointed a (loaded?) handgun at a dude's noggin in public while driving. The head coach was so outraged that he actually publicly declared that Sinclair had "clearly had a lapse in judgment after returning to Champaign-Urbana on Saturday," language usually reserved for actual rape or attempted murder in NCAA Division I.

Yup, that sucked (Thing One's first hour of independence, Version 1.2)

When last we left our young protagonist, he was still stuck on Version 1.1 of his story.

Version 1.2 maintains all the main elements of Version 1 (he was innocently driving someone else's car at 0130 when he was struck by a drunk driver turning left at a red light into his path, no one was badly hurt even though he and his half-sister weren't wearing seat belts, probably because he successfully applied the Jesus Take The Wheel Gambit, but both vehicles were totaled, and to add insult to injury, the cops not only refused to believe his story, but they also had the temerity to administer breathalyzer on the scene, so they ticketed him for running the red light in addition to failure to carry insurance and even denied that the other driver was DUI, since she blew 0.04 BAC.)

The biggest change in version 1.2 is a slight tweaking of a detail that was changed in Version 1.1; in 1.1, we learned that Thing One had taken over ownership of SugarDaddy's pickup after the crash. After Version 1.2, Thing One claims that "I owned the truck before the crash, but I didn't know it. Sugardaddy had actually signed it over to me already, but he didn't tell me about it."

To be clear, Thing One thought, or claimed to think, that he had taken ownership of this truck without finding out about it. He thinks, or claims to think, that Sugardaddy can sign the title in such a way that legal ownership is transferred to whoever he chooses--and the recipient doesn't have to take any action.
"Now you see, Daniel-san? Smashed-up pickup truck come from within. You have inside you all along! Same-same sake inside Miyagi."

If I'd ever believed that was possible, I know what I'd have done with the power to force someone to own a car without their consent or knowledge: I'd have "signed over" our much-hated 1994 Camaro to, like, Mike Bloomberg or that lady that runs his Moms Demand Things group.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rolling Stone's 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America List is Just a List of All the Guns

So, hey, Rolling Stone . . . how many kinds of guns you gonna put on your list of the 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America?

But not literally every kind of gun, right? Because that would be pointless, except as a transparent cry for clicks. Let's see what you've got so far:
  1. "Pistols." Like . . . all pistols? Well . . . OK. I see you've singled out Glocks and copy/pasted some weirdly irrelevant details from Wikipedia or something. Maybe Glocks are the most dangerous pistols? No? Well, good effort, champ.
  2. "Revolvers."  Would you care to elaborate? Oh, you meant the handgun kind of revolvers and not grenade launchers? You're right, that does really clear things up. I'm sure that's what everyone was wondering. Is there, maybe, somebody else there who could--nope, moving on? OK then.
  3. "Rifles." Created to address the inaccuracy of smoothbore muskets. I mean, the thing about that kind of statement is that it's true. It's not technically wrong. It's the idea that you thought it was relevant to your point that reveals your lunacy. It's like describing a sports car as an enclosed space in which one can listen to music using magnets. It's not false, it's just . . . . balmy.
  4. "Shotguns." Well, I'm not going to pretend I didn't see that coming. So we've got pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns so far. Next pretty much has to be machine guns or replica miniature field artillery, right? Remember that one episode of Magnum, P.I. where Higgins was making Magnum and the boys pretend to be the French at Waterloo while he fired his little cannon at them? Good times. Also, I can't tell what you were trying to say about shotgun shells by calling them "fixed" in comparison to rifle cartridges, which were described as "metallic." Please advise.
  5. Derringers. Ding-damned Derringers, y'all. I can't even. I don't know. All my feelings are . . . you know what, Rolling Stone? You're all right. All is forgiven, you goofy sonsabitches. Just don't ever start making sense. You're beautiful, just the way you are.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yup, that sucked. (Thing One's first hour of independence, Version 1.1)

Before I give you this update, I want to give a more important one. This past weekend, Thing One called and asked to talk. He said that he'd been doing a lot of drinking over the weekend in the hope that he could forget his problems, but it hadn't worked, and he was sober and worried that night. We talked for awhile. He says he's applying for jobs and has a lead on a fast-food job that would allow him to pay his tickets and get insurance and licensing sorted out. He says he's resolved not to drive again until he has a valid license and insurance. And he says he's going to take things one thing at a time and not panic at the prospect of being sued for money he doesn't have. I waited for the pitch, the appeal for money, or the excuses to start, but they didn't come. He seemed to be very serious, and I want to give him credit. I'm sure there will be setbacks again, probably soon, but to me, this young man who wants to help people but has some growing up to do first is the real Thing One. This is why I'm on his side, even when I have to try to find the humor in his actions to keep from despair. Keep this in mind as you read Version 1.1 of his story of events--later on, he will begin to take genuine responsibility. It's just going to take a couple of weeks first.

If you missed the last installment, Thing One has turned 18 years of age (along with Thing Two.) Being 18 years old and thus a mature adult, he has moved out to seek his fortune. Unfortunately, not having prepared to take that step by holding jobs, saving money or securing his own transportation, he didn't have the means to go out on his own . . . so he arranged to have his biological mom, BM, pick him up and take him to her home in Wisconsin. If you want this post to make any sense at all, you're going to want to read "Yup, that sucked (Thing One's first hour of independence)" first.

Life with Thing One has taught us that, when he's in trouble, there's always another version of the story in the works. Don't like the version he told you? Ask someone else; he told them something different. Don't like either one? Tell him so and give him a day; there'll be a new version. Basically, if he were a fiction writer, mid-level management would love him; he's very responsive to notes and suggestions. When he was telling these versions to us, My Bride and I were in different states and I was hard to reach; the temptation to give us at least two different versions must have been too much to resist.

So what changed in Version 1.1?

  • He told his mom (My Bride) that the occupants of the other car actually jumped out and switched places immediately after the accident, rather than staying put to be examined by him as he told me. This is a key detail because it allows him to continue to claim that the other driver must have been drunk. If you recall, the police tested the other driver at 0.04 BAC, but Thing One claimed that the passengers were more intoxicated. Note that I'm not claiming to know that the other drivers didn't pull a switch; I'm just pointing out that it's the second version of the story, not the first.
  • He further explained to her, the next day after the accident, that he was greatly relieved to find that he would not be held responsible for the "totaled" vehicles . . . because the other party wasn't insured, either. His "theory of the case" holds that only insurance companies can sue drivers for damages, so he's in the clear. When I got the chance to talk to him, I explained that liability doesn't work that way, but Version 1.1 wasn't ready to hear that yet.
  • Perhaps most intriguingly, Version 1.1 included a teaser/trailer for Version 1.2: Thing One told My Bride that "everything is going to be ok" because "SugarDaddy signed the truck over to me, so it's in my name now." When she asked what had been done and why, he refused to spoil the surprise, saying only that he was now the proud owner of the (totaled) truck and that this was somehow better for "SugarDaddy and his wife." Pressed for details, he blurted out, "I'm not going to do anything to mess up Bio-Mom's relationship with SugarDaddy!" and left it at that. How he came to believe that it would be his fault if Bio-Mom and SugarDaddy somehow failed to make their extra-marital affair work out was not clear, but personally, my guess is that someone in the household explained it to him.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yup, that sucked. (Thing One's first hour of independence)

Not my circus . . . not my monkeys . . . not my circus . . . not my monkeys . . .

It's been over two weeks since Thing One left home.

Thing Two is doing better for the moment; he's spending his time doing a job search and just asked about purchasing auto insurance this morning. He's still quiet and withdrawn, still obviously working things out slowly, but he's trying.

#3 Son is making the most of summer, playing outside, going to the zoo, baseball games, museums, classes, and camp-outs.

My Bride is beginning to enjoy the peace of the household.

Thing One . . . well, he's having some trouble. It took them six days to make an eight-hour drive back to Bio-Mom's house, so they left at noon on Thursday and arrived in the early hours of the following Wednesday. It took him about another hour or so after arriving in his new home to crash a borrowed truck into an SUV with four occupants.
Luckily, no serious injuries. He's lying about "the drunk," but what else is Facebook for?

I know this because he called me at 3:00 AM to tell me that he really needed my help, and I rolled out of bed and left a cabin of snoring campers to go stand out by the bathrooms in the woods and listen to this story for half an hour.

Thing One's Version (1.0):
They "had car trouble," which was what obliged them to spend nearly a week about an hour from home before heading up to Wisconsin. When they finally went, they arrived in the middle of the night, and after they'd unloaded, somebody had to go for food. It is implied that Thing One is the only driver sober enough to go out, and it "just doesn't make sense to go to a restaurant." Everyone at the house knows he doesn't have insurance, but they all figure it's OK, because it's only a few miles. BM's (Bio-Mom's) married sugar-daddy, "SD," has foolishly left his truck at her home, so for some reason they send Thing One and his 13-year-old half-sister, HS13, in his truck instead of BM's vehicle. He gets about a mile down the street and comes to an intersection with a red light, but it turns green before he reaches it, so he heads on through. There's a "drunk driver" coming from the other way, though, and that dastardly character turns right into Thing One. Thing One sees that he's about to hit the drunk driver's car, so he lets go of the wheel and grabs HS13 so she won't hit the windshield. 
After the crash, Thing One jumps out and checks on everyone. No one is badly hurt, though he and HS 13 have bumps and bruises. Neither was wearing a seat belt. There are four people in the other car, all drunk, all underage, none injured. But when the police arrive, they insist that the other driver doesn't count as a "drunk driver" just because she blew a 0.04 BAC on a breathalyzer. Apparently, you're not considered DUI unless you meet the legal standard of intoxication. Thing One is not drunk, either, but his mind is somewhat blown at this news. The police officers also ticket him for failure to carry insurance and for failing to stop for a red light. For reasons he does not specify, the police on the scene don't seem to buy version 1.0 of his story. They also have a conversation about the value of the other party's vehicle, the value of the vehicle he crashed (since it's not his) and his potential liability. At this point, Thing One does not seem to be aware that he is "judgment proof" because he doesn't own anything, and I keep that to myself for two reasons: first, because it's not an absolute guarantee that he won't be sued, and second, because I have a feeling that the next step is going to be to throw everyone as far as possible off the scent of SD's assets (and Bio-Mom's, if she has any.) Seems to me the obvious strategy would be to put as much liability as they can on Thing One as fast as they can. This is about to happen anyway, but why should I be the one to suggest the idea to him? The only regret I do have about keeping that to myself is that I could have warned him . . . but I didn't know specifically what they were going to pull, and they can do no wrong in his eyes anyway.

Version 1.0 of his story ends with him talking things over with Bio-Mom. She has a lawyer, you see, and she's going to sic him on that drunk driver and those cops, and they'll fight and win! Well, they'll challenge the red-light ticket, anyway, but apparently nothing else, because it's pretty hard to dispute that he canceled his auto insurance the day before he left home. In this version of the story, it's not a coincidence that Bio-Mom has a lawyer; he's been fighting to get her driver's license back ever since she lost it after her last DUI. That was news to me, too, especially after she drove here to pick him up.

He's out there learning on his own. Learning hurts sometimes, but it could have been a lot worse if someone had been badly hurt or killed.

In our next installment, we'll hear Thing One's Version (1.1) complete with retcons! As Heraclitus taught us in antiquity, "there is nothing constant in a bullshit story except change."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

SUMMER CAMP! Camp Quest Kansas City 2.0 is GO!

I am not here. I am at Camp Quest Kansas City at Knob Noster State Park in Missouri, helping run a summer camp. This particular summer camp is the one you go to if you don't want to pray over every meal or learn how your body is like an unwrapped candy bar, but you also don't want to pledge that you are a social justice atheist-humanist warrior for truth.

We're just gonna swim in the pool, do science in the woods, talk about big ideas, play soccer in the field and sing songs around the fire. It's not entirely my usual idea of camping, but there's no internet or air conditioning.

I'll be back at the end of June. Try not to let any of my friends throttle any of my other friends while I'm gone. I promise I'll write stuff about whatever the internet is upset about when I get back.

BTW, for those of you following Thing One and Thing Two, Thing One did get moved out this week and made it to his biological mom's house. His Facebook status this morning was:
"theres nothing like a shit to sober you up in da morning lolol"
So that's apparently going well so far.

Thing Two got his driver's license and registered as an organ donor and a voter, and he seems like he's doing pretty well at the moment.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This is going to hurt.

The twins, Thing One and Thing Two, turned 18 today.

This was turning into a long post in which I tried to explain what we've been through during these boys' adolescence. It's a long list of reasons I have to be angry, to be heartbroken. There's really no way to explain it all in one blog post, but more importantly, there's no way to write about it without putting it all out into public, even if it is on a small blog nobody reads, and I just can't quite bring myself to do that to them. I don't know what they'll be like in ten years, but I assume the things I write about them on the internet will still exist at that time. Suffice it to say that I know everybody talks about how trying their teenagers are, but I'm not talking about normal teenage rebellion.

What matters today is what they've decided to do going forward.

Thing One has decided to move out and live with his biological mother a state away. She continues to blame all the abuse and neglect he suffered before he was removed from her home by Illinois DCFS (47 counts of child endangerment, if I recall correctly) on an unnamed male babysitter she left the babies and toddlers with one day while she was looking for work. He doesn't have a car or insurance, doesn't have a job, and graduated from high school by the skin of his teeth. He has a few hundred dollars saved and a few boxes of stuff to take with him. There's not much we can do about this except keep making it clear to him that he can come back to us if he changes his mind or needs help (as long as he's willing to live by our house rules--no violence, no threats, no drugs, and full cooperation with medical professionals.) This means that I'm going to have to have biological mom at my house today at noon. I honestly don't know how that's going to go. It'll probably be anti-climactic, but My Bride is taking our youngest son elsewhere pretty soon anyway, just in case. She can pull up out front, load up, and go. Anything else is going to be considered trespassing and will be dealt with by some poor schmuck who's getting paid to deal with it. I don't expect violence from her, to be clear, just drama, lies and emotional manipulation. It's a personal strength she has learned to rely on over the years.

Thing Two has made a better choice, under the circumstances. He never bothered to get a driver's license or a job, but he has saved almost twice as much money as Thing One. He, too, graduated high school by narrow margins. Both boys have expressed an interest in joining the military; neither was accepted. But six months ago, Thing Two was unpredictably volcanic. He told us and his psychiatrist over and over that he would not take his medications, and he told us he would never speak to a therapist again, nor would he talk to us about anything that was bothering him. About three months ago, he relented and began visiting a great therapist, then softened a bit on his other treatment, but he still maintained that he was moving out of our house when today came; he had nowhere to go, no car, no license, no job or prospects, but he insisted over and over that he would simply leave and be homeless so that he would no longer have to follow rules or deal with his mental health. We were scared, if I'm honest.

Only a week ago, Thing Two relented again. He now plans to stay here with us and make a step-by-step plan to work toward independence. He and I will go to the DMV today so that he can get a driver's license. He's been applying for jobs, and he will sign up with a temp agency in the meantime so that he can save up some money while he lives here. While he lives here, at least, he will continue to take his prescribed medication and to see his therapist regularly. We will help him any way we can. We'll help them both in any way we can, actually, but I don't think it's been clear to Thing One that he may be putting himself outside our capacity to help, and that scares me to death. But the day had to come eventually, and I guess I knew that.

So, if you don't mind, wish us luck, or pray for us, or whatever you do when you can't do something, because there's not so much for any of us to do for Thing One for the next little while except try to be ready for whatever happens next.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Tried to Warn You People, But Does Anybody Listen to Me?

"Letting USPSA join FIFA is a mistake," I said. "Next thing you know, they'll be clearing the slums in Barry with machine guns and tripling the size of PASA Park using expendable slave labor from the Phillipines. says the refereeing changes are already being rolled out:

Better go RTWT if by some miracle you got here before you saw it there. Paul Hendrix, meanwhile, appears to be starting with denial, but it looks to me like this is one of those cases where someone's likely been getting away with something for a long time . . . so long that they get blindsided when circumstances or technology come along and make it much harder to get away with. It makes you wonder whether Hendrix ever considered that the shooters he was helping (and maybe hurting?) were posting match videos and someone might eventually notice? Or did he just figure it was such an obscure corner of the internet that nobody would bother to check? Anonymity on the internet is one of those things that seems permanent, unchanging and reliable until the day it disappears without warning.
Hendrix even mentioned that he's never heard of the Doodie Project forums (yes, that's a thing.) Well, that's the beauty and the pain of the internet, my friend. You have no idea who is watching this stuff.

Perhaps Trotsky said it best when he observed that, "You may not be interested in the Doodie Project, but the Doodie Project is interested in you." [Citation needed]

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


So I sent that last post to my wife in a Facebook private message, and I told her that I'd only link it to Facebook if she approved. She told me "You're a great writer, and you made me cry, but I'm not comfortable with you putting that on Facebook . . . you can leave it on the blog, though."

Which tells you all you need to know about the power and reach of this blog. :-D

14 Years

Today is the 14th time this day has come around since I married My Bride.

We did a lot of things wrong, but we did some important things right. We jumped into marriage, not by marrying too soon, but by deciding to engage too soon and then refusing to consider whether we should re-think marriage. But we got away with it.

We bought a tumbledown money-pit of a house that is now our only debt, and proceeded to demolish a bunch of it and then bog down when we tried to get it renovated. But we got away with it.

Instead of paying back our school loans immediately, we went into debt to buy that house and a car and some appliances. It took us years to pay all that off, but we got away with it.

Then we adopted twins with severe learning and emotional disabilities brought on by years of abuse and neglect followed by years of sliding out of one foster home and into the next--twins whose abusive biological mother is a member of our family and thus could never be completely escaped. We knew we were accepting that there would be a strain on our marriage, but I don't think we had any way to conceive of how bad it would get. I know I didn't. But those twins are turning 18 in a couple of days, and although there are still big problems, there's reason to believe we may have gotten away with it, even though, in a stunning display of hubris, we added a third child seven years ago, because why not?

We've gotten away with all those things so far because we did a few big things right. We reached a decision point a few years ago, and we recognized it for what it was. We knew that we either had to be willing to change or to accept that the marriage was over. We chose to change. We consulted with professionals. We learned to talk to each other in new ways. We learned to share with each other the way Seneca told Lucilius to behave with a real friend, holding nothing back:
“Why should I keep back anything when I’m with a friend? Why shouldn’t I imagine I’m alone when I’m in his company?”
We paid off our debt (except that mortgage that keeps hanging in there) and decided not to take any more on. We've stuck by that for years now. We're slowly starting the process of finishing the renovation of our money pit, with much-simplified, much-less-ambitious versions of our original plans. We'll be renovating with an eye toward simple livability in order to sell the house for a profit in a few years and move. And the twins are . . . . well, the jury's still out on that one, but we're entering a new phase. One is looking for a job today; he's put himself in a tough position, but he graduated from high school and he's decided not to run away and be homeless when he turns 18, and that's something. The other will be moving out on his birthday to live with his biological mother. That's terrifying to us, but . . . it's his decision in the truest sense. We can't stop him and we can't take the consequences for him. And that's really it. We've put in the work and time to create spaces in our life that are for the two of us alone. They aren't much, but they've kept us together. They've been enough to remind us, when we need it, that we love each other and neither of us is willing to let this experience end.

So, for today, I'm not going to worry about it. Today I'm going to celebrate this woman who loves me so much. We're going to enjoy each other. We're going to enjoy our children today. We're going to have fun together. I'm going to make her laugh! And she will know that she is loved and safe and appreciated.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Monday . . . Here, Have a Turtle.

I'm working on something about how my holster habits are changing, but I want to go to the gym this morning and also help my son build a fortress, so . . . lotta deadlines. 

Yesterday was Father's Day, so we hit the state park and came back with pictures of turtles and snakes. Enjoy!

This little lady was digging in the gravel at the edge of the pick-a-nick spot when we arrived. I hope she wasn't trying to lay eggs, because we disturbed her. Unless she's male and he was just digging out a worm . . . also likely.

Look how smug! And hey, if you've ever wanted to retire by working way too hard in a beautiful place, that little restaurant/boat shop across the way is looking for new management.

"Look out, Indy!"

"Bro, do you even bro?"

So many snakes . . . not sure what these were, to be honest, but I wasn't totally sure they weren't moccasins, so we left them alone. They wanted no part of us, either, so it worked out.

We caught one living thing that day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two of Ron Swanson's ex-wives are named Tammy. His mother's name is . . . Tamara. Every thirty days, he buys $140 worth of shotgun shells and cigarettes and sends them home to her.*
I'm not saying that's significant in any way, necessarily, it's just something I never knew until today.

Later in the same episode, the gang actually goes to Tamara's house.  Andy is enthralled to find that there is "a whole room of just guns!"  Leslie asks why there is a room full of just guns. Tamara replies:
"This is America we're in right now, isn't it?"
"Yes . . ."
"So that means I don't have to answer stupid questions while I'm standing on my own land."

So, I'm not saying, I'm just saying . . . there are aspects of the character that remind me of somebody.

*Parks and Recreation Episode #48, "Ron and Tammys."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Randomness/NSFW/Trigger Warning*: Race Bannon & Brock Samson

This week, over at Non-Original Rants, they had a moment of appreciation for the great "Race" Bannon, the wise-cracking bodyguard who kept Johnny Quest alive throughout my childhood. Sadly, in the real world, there's a guy named David "Race" Bannon. Race Bannon, in the real world, is a bullshidoka con artist who wrote a ridiculous book about assassinating child sex-traffickers for Interpol. Last I heard, he was finally being arrested for fraud after having charged law enforcement and other organizations hefty fees for "expert" presentations on human trafficking and child pornography.

But the Bannon name is covered in glory, too . . . because you can't make a loving parody of little Johnny Quest all grown up (and all messed up) without a Bannon analogue. To fill that void, we have been given Brock Fucking Samson.

*Trigger Warning: somebody posted something on another blog that triggered two separate wandering thoughts in my brain. This might trigger a couple in yours.