Monday, March 31, 2008

Ladies, a Free Tip

You can reject a man, or you can tell him how attracted you are to him. But you can't do both; it's not fooling anybody, least of all him.

You certainly aren't going to be able to say anything that will keep him from feeling inadequate. He's not suffering some form of clinical depression that gives him irrational feelings of inadequacy; he is suffering utterly rational feelings of inadequacy stemming from the fact that you have told him he is inadequate, at least in your eyes. He didn't measure up, and that's what "inadequacy" means. If you'd thought he was such hot stuff, you'd have wanted him.

Rejection in any form sucks. Rejection from someone you love sucks more. Rejection coupled with well-meaning condescension is irritating as well.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Timing Is Everything

Joe Allen won the Guess the Book before I had decided what the prize should be. It worked out better than I'd expected, though. I sent him a hot new book from an up-and-coming author, a print-on-demand self-published work though you'd be hard-pressed to tell that from the picture, because the cover graphics and design are better than a lot of "professional" publications. Mr. Oleg Volk had a lot to do with that, although he had a lot of help from some good graphic artists.

When I sent it, though, I didn't know that it would be one of the last of that edition. Within days of my order, that up-and-coming author had been contacted by a major publishing house (I have a guess, but the name of the house is not public yet) and announced the end of production of the self-published edition.

This is not a review, but if you're thinking about getting Monster Hunter International, I recommend it thusly:
I find horror movies boring, I don't read books about monsters, but I love MHI.

I also note that the current version won't be out of print until next week sometime, and the next version may not be on shelves for quite awhile after that. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

But Joe doesn't have to worry about any of that, because he knew me better than I knew myself, which is a lot less creepy if you just don't think about it.

Birthday Announcement: Don Gwinn and the Model of 1911

Better And Better: 97 years ago today.

Turns out, I have the same birthday (well, of sorts) as the U.S. military's Model of 1911. Of course, I'm only a youthful and spritely 30, while the Model of 1911 has been in service with the U.S. military since . . . 1911, which makes 97 years. I'm not an expert, so I can't tell you whether that was continuous. There might have been a time, maybe the late '80's and early '90's, when the transition to the M9 had been made and there were no 1911's being issued to anyone. Nowadays, some of the high-speed special units have gone back to the 1911 model, however, so it's a moot point.

I just hope I last 97 years and Melissa makes it to 98. And now I'm off to a birthday surprise. I don't know where we're going except that Melissa says it's "something you'll like." Kane thinks we're going shooting, but she'd have to tell me to pack up guns and ammo and ears and stuff, so I'm in the dark. We'll see!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Plot Thickens: Pilot Blames TSA Rules for AD

AP Reports: Pilot Was Trying to Stow Gun That Fired

By MITCH WEISS - Associated Press Writer

Edition Date: 03/26/08

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A US Airways pilot whose gun fired inside a cockpit said he was trying to stow the weapon as the crew got ready to land, according to a police report released Wednesday. . . . . (Read the rest of the story)

The plot thickens. It doesn't seem to be getting very wide coverage, but according to the Associated Press, the pilot who accidentally fired a round of .40 S&W through an Airbus airliner (in flight) is apparently not content to take all the blame. He says he was trying to "stow the firearm" when it fired. The article doesn't mention exactly what he was trying to do, but unless he's just making stuff up at this point, I think it's probably safest to assume that Paul Huebl was right in the first place (I don't know Paul and have no reason to doubt him, I'm just paranoid) and this poor sod is getting pilloried in the press because he did something he knew was unsafe . . . . but was required by the people who had the power to take away his privilege of carrying that pistol and leave him defenseless again.
I'll just repeat here that I think that holster HAS to be intended to secure unloaded guns, and I think I'd have to unload the gun every time I tried to put the lock on, then load it when the lock came off. But I'm one of those guys who can't pick up a cordless drill or a bottle of 409 without a straight trigger finger. But Paul at Crimefiles says the requirement is that the gun be left loaded. Is it possible that the TSA "experts" think it's too dangerous to load and unload pistols in a crowded cockpit, so they fell back on the classic gun-safety protocol of poking at the trigger with metal objects and hoping for the best?

If all that's true, then the real question is this: are the powers that be at the TSA really that stupid, or do they just figure that this requirement effectively discourages pilots from becoming FFDO certified--and that every accidental discharge their policy charges is just one step closer to the end of the whole program?

Paul shows how the discharge probably happened. See if the "CLICK" of the hammer dropping doesn't send a chill down your spine!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dumb Pilot Error, or Dumb TSA Rules?

Maybe both.

So the news for the last couple of days has been full of the pilot who had a brain malfunction and fired a round of .40 Smith and Wesson through his Airbus the other day. That is a Bad Thing. Apparently the FDO's are either issued or required to buy Heckler & Koch USP pistols. These are not unreliable firearms as long as the right ammunition is used, and the wrong ammo is still not going to make the things go off by themselves. They're also not going to fire because someone bumps one or drops it on the floor or, for that matter, hits it with a hammer. If you have an ND, then you didn't mean to pull the trigger, but nevertheless you did and have no one else to blame.

But if Paul Huebl at Crimefiles is right, it's possible that the pilot didn't choose to fiddle with his pistol's trigger in the cockpit, but was required to do so by the TSA. Sound too stupid to be true? Do I need to remind you that this is the TSA we're dealing with here?
Go read it and see what you think. The miracle under those conditions is that it took this long to have Very Bad Things happen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Paging the IL State Police: Lawdog would like a word with you.

The LawDog Files: "She was doing everything she was supposed to do to stay alive"

Preach it, brother, tell it to them that got to hear the word.

Remember, everyone, people who tell you not to defend yourself are not looking out for you. They are looking out for them. The way they see it, your violent death is very, very unlikely, and even if you somehow beat the odds and are attacked, there's no actual penalty to them in the end.
But if you put your attacker in a wheelchair, or kill the son of a bitch who tried to kill you, because they advised you that it was the best way to survive a violent attack, then they're responsible--and if the wrong people get wind of it, they might be out real money.
The fact that, statistically speaking, armed resistance actually does beat out both unarmed resistance and capitulation does not enter into consideration for these people.
That's why the Illinois State Police is still telling women that guns are bad, but cutesy ploys like throwing up on your attacker are your best hope. Don't fall for it.

Paging Joe Allen: A Winner Is You!

(UPDATE: Joe contacted me last night and his prize is on its way. Maybe when he gets it, he'll tell you what it is.)

Boy, when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. You people blew my doors off! On the upside, Matt G. notes in the Comments to my little contest that I am the one and only Google result for "Gunshop or School." I don't care what Tyler Durden says; I really am a unique and special little snowflake.

In retrospect, I should have made you guess the title, which, incidentally, was BROWNING: World's Greatest Gunmaker by Gertrude Hecker Winders. I've been reading it at home, and it's pretty good stuff for an elementary/junior high/middle school library. It's copyrighted 1961 and stamped "Ball Junior High School," which means it has moved from building to building with the library at least three times. It has the feeling of old family stories, and indeed we find that Mrs. Winders profusely thanked members of the Browning family for their time. Oddly enough, rather than use photographs or professional illustration, all the illustrations are Mrs. Winders' own sketches. They resemble a child's simple line drawings of guns, the same sort of thing you'd have seen in my notebooks when I was in the 6th grade, and illustrations of people are not attempted, though a flower and a pair of moccasins snuck in there along the way.

What can I say? I was surprised. So, where were we?
Oh, yes: Joe Allen. If you want a prize, you have to send me your address! Blogger says it's none of my business. I'm not saying you have to send it--were I in your shoes, I wouldn't want some gun nut in a funny hat to know where I live, either--but in that case, I'm keeping your swag for myself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guess the Book

I saw something in the library at school today that caught my eye, and I had to check it out. I was giving a history test back in the biography section when it jumped out at me.
"I must have it!" I thought. "Neither of my readers will believe I found it in the library of a public middle school in Illinois."

I'm going to make you guess first, but I'm betting nobody will know it. Two hints:

1. You don't have to guess the title, just the name of the person. You've all heard of the person in question.

2. Chapter Three: Gunshop or School? (We all know the right answer, don't we?)

I'll send a little something--a very little something--to the winner, defined as the first person to post the correct first and last name of the person featured in this biography. This ain't The Price Is Right.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Overheard At A Chinese Restaurant

"Kane . . . . am I losing my mind or have you lost eyebrows?"
"I lost a bet."
"You what?"
"Well, I didn't really lose a bet. I said you had a shaver and I would shave my eyebrows and Christopher said I wouldn't so then I did."
"You what?"
"See? I did my eyelashes, too."

Monday, March 17, 2008

My House Made Me Bald

(Pictures later)

Well, technically it's not the house's fault that I'm incompetent, but I like the way it rolls off the tongue. From time to time, I get a wild hair and shave my head. The hotter it gets outside, the more often I do it. This winter I actually grew my hair out and left it for quite awhile. My general rule is that my hair can be any length as long as it doesn't cover my bald spot when I comb it. When it starts to look like a comb-over, there's an issue of self-respect involved.

So I've built a nice little header and columns to span the dining room where the former owners removed a load-bearing wall (I think--I can't be sure WHAT they did) and left the floor above supported by joists that only rested on a wall at one end (!!!). More on that later. With that done, I'm getting ready to install moulded tiles and drywall to finish the ceiling, and along the way, I'm sealing the last couple of openings into the cold, windy attic space above. To do that, I've pushed fiberglass insulation batts into the spaces between the joists, and now I'm sealing around the insulation using expanding foam insulation.

Have you used this stuff? It's awesome, especially in an ancient house like mine where there are more gaps than wall and you can't reach a lot of them very well. The original brand, I think, was "Great Stuff." Shake it up, point the tube where your gap is, and goopy, sticky foam flows out to fill it. As it cures, the stuff releases gas, which makes bubbles. That makes it expand to fill all available space (this sealing gaps and crevices you can't even see are there) and ends as a hard foam with excellent insulation properties. By volume, my house is about two-thirds wood and one-third foam. But let me tell you, it's only so sticky and it simply will not always adhere to a vertical surface, especially if there's too much air movement in the space before it cures.

Also, it is impossible to get it out of your hair once it falls on your head. The cans suggest rubbing alcohol and acetone before the stuff sets up, but I'm not sure the manufacturer contemplated someone dumb enough to squirt it overhead without even wearing a ball cap. I can tell you that solvents and combs do nothing. In the end, the clippers were the only honorable path left to me.

I'm just glad it didn't fall in Melissa's hair. I have to think it would be less funny if that happened.

Communication Is Key (Now With Photos)

It's OK to pre-heat your oven. It's a good idea, in fact.

It's OK to use the oven as an impromptu hiding place for things you don't want little hands to clutch or touch. I mean, who hasn't done this? It's done.

But if one person uses the oven to hide a large Tupperware cake pan full of iced sugar cookies from the kids before she leaves for work in the morning, and some other person pre-heats the oven to 450* Fahrenheit to make dinner in the evening, without checking the oven first, there will be smoke. And flame. Pools of flaming plastic will puddle up on the bottom of the oven. It helps if you had the foresight to place the cookie tub on the broiler pan to contain the plastic, and it's nice to have an 11-year-old to ask, "Should the oven be smoking like that?"

The cookies will be surprisingly well-preserved as long as you don't hit them with the fire extinguisher, but you should probably throw them out anyway, and the garlic bread will come out just fine on the grill.

I just thought you should all know.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Illinois State Police : Because You Suck, and They Hate You.

With apologies to Larry Correia, seriously, folks, who could make this stuff up?

I was reading some commentary on IGOLD on the excellent IllinoisCarry Forum when someone linked to a letter from last year, which mentioned the Illinois State Police and their famous advice to women to use combs, keys, vomit, but NEVER anything as nasty as a gun to defend themselves when "confronted with sexual assault." Wait, I thought to myself, was that really a year ago?

Well, it was--but that's not the weird part. The weird part is that the ISP has not changed that page at all. Not one word.

Before you fight

Fighting for your safety may be necessary. However, if you start out fighting you cancel any other options that might be open to you. Since many attacks on women are not sexually motivated, and are designed to degrade and humiliate, talking your way out of it may be easier.

* There is documentation of assailants that left a would-be-victim alone after she told him that she was pregnant and it would kill her baby. (Some case were women that were too old to even have a baby.)
* Telling an attacker that you have VD or AIDS can discourage him.
* It may sound disgusting, but putting your fingers into you throat and making yourself vomit usually gets results. (This method is not often used except as a last resort.)
* Use your imagination and you can think of others.

The above methods are particularly important if your assailant has a gun or knife, or there is more than one attacker. (Fighting would probably be futile.)

Oh, yes, I can see how it would be really important to tell the guy you have AIDS and then puke on him. That will quell his sexual desire and not make him angry. Of course, the ISP says sexual assault is often not sexually motivated. But they do say such attacks are designed to humiliate women, so humiliating themselves pre-emptively should totally work except when it doesn't.

Articles common to your handbag that make useful defense weapons.

* nail file
* rat tail comb
* teasing brush
* pens and pencils
* keys
* anything rigid

Don't get me wrong. I can f%#& you up with a nail file or an ink pen if that's what it takes to survive. But if you're a hundred pounds lighter and on the defensive, your odds of pulling off pen-fu just dropped precipitously. Either way, if you have the option of carrying a real weapon and you choose to hope your comb will work in a pinch, I accuse you of wishful thinking.
If you lobby against the right of a woman to carry a handgun, and then tell her that her comb is really a better way to fight off a rapist, I accuse you of cowardly collaboration in whatever happens to any woman dumb enough to take your advice. Thanks for nothing, Illinois State Police.

(I wrote to the ISP and called them when this page first came to light. They didn't answer either communication. But just in case, here's the phone number for the Public Information Office: (217)782-6637)

Congratulations John and Jordy!

No going back now!

We spent the day partying with family for Sean's first birthday, but I thought of you two. Art says you did great.

I hope you're happy forever.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Son.

Tam notes that today is a Special Day. Why is today special? Let me count the ways.

Today is the day that Albert Einstein was born. What would the world be like if he hadn't been? Well, we wouldn't have movies like The Absent-Minded Professor, and Back to the Future would be unrecognizable. One shudders to contemplate it.

Today is the day, as Tam also points out, that Karl Marx bought the farm (which was surprising, coming from him. I would have expected a revolutionary committee to seize the farm and entrust it to Comrade Marx's care for the good of all the people.) What would the world have been like if Karl Marx had never died? No one knows for sure, but I picture a heartless, collectivist dystopia ruled by an immortal God Emperor for thousands upon thousands of grinding, endless years. I can't help but think we dodged a bullet there.

Today is also Pi Day. It's the day we celebrate the strangest number there is--an infinite, non-repeating decimal! What won't they think of next?

But that's today's view. What I wonder is, what will future generations say about this momentous day? What will they remember? What will they celebrate with their families as they huddle together in their domes on Venus, trying to keep the cooling systems working and hoping desperately that the Abominable Venusian Tentacle-Beasts don't attack again until Terran warships arrive?

"Gather 'round, children!" they will call, "For it is time for Granny Lum to tell the story of the man born on this day. It's Sean Gwinn Day!"

Sean is one year old today. He's beautiful and happy and wonderful, and he's changed all of us for the better, even his big brothers. But I've been feverish for a couple of days and we were up late last night making cookies for his birthday party, so it's possible this post came out a little . . . . weird. Then again, that could just be me.

Happy birthday, son. Da-da loves you, but if you could say "mama" soon, that would be great. Da-da is getting tired of ma-ma's accusing looks every time you say da-da.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Libertarians vs. libertarians

I must apologize for the spotty content. Last week, I was literally too sick to blog. I was home from school for a week, but I was getting zero done, and this week has been spent trying to catch up. Let's hope there's more content as we go along.

Anyway, in our last installment, Oliver ( the old knives guy ) commented that he doesn't hate libertarians, only "Big L Libertarians." That was nice, except that he went on to point out that since I'm a school teacher, I'm probably one of those "Big L Libertarians" who just don't get it.

This puzzles me for a couple of reasons.

First, in what state in this fine union does one find that most public school teachers are libertarians, no matter what size any of the letters are? Not in Illinois, that's for sure. Here most teachers are old-school union-dues Democrats. A smaller but still large section of the school teacher population would call itself "progressive," which would have translated as "liberal" a few years ago and "pinko" before that. Now, here in the Heartland of America, there is a sizable minority of teachers who consider themselves "conservatives"--but their conservative streak is usually confined to wishing the schools did a better job of teaching children to love Jesus and stamp out The Gayness.

Second, what is a "Big L" libertarian? I learned about "Big R" and "Small R" republicans in school, but not libertarians. If a "Big L" libertarian, like a "Big R" republican, is a member of the Libertarian Party, then I'm not one of those. If a "Small L" libertarian is a person who basically thinks libertarian thought is a good idea, then that's me. I wanna be that one. I also consider myself a "Small R" republican, by the way, which means that I believe a republic is the most desirable form of government. A "Big R" republican would either be a member of the Republican Party or a political philosopher who bases his theory of politics on the concept of buying candy, ammunition, blue jeans and fence posts in the same store.

I believe that libertarian thought is the way to go as far as it's practical. I believe in non-aggression. I believe that the maximum possible individual liberty is desirable. I realize that I live in a nation and a world where that point of view is marginal at best and "wacky fringe" at worst, so I don't get my hopes up too much. But in general, yes, more freedom is better than less freedom, and the individual deserves his liberty. It's just too bad that most of the country has no interest in individual freedom, particularly if there are consequences attached to it.