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."