D.C. Tea Party 2009

March 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm (Politics)

Friday at noon, I attended the New American Tea Party in front of the White House.

One thing that anyone who has been to rallies knows is that conservative rallies tend to be much less well attended than liberal ones.  From what I’ve seen, especially at the World Bank protests, this is because conservatives have jobs, while the attendees at liberal protests are unemployed kids being financed by their parents.

Even so, and with the short notice given for scheduling this protest, it was quite well attended.  I would estimate between three and four hundred people, counting the ones that arrived late or left early.

Here are some pictures that I took of it:

There were a few Gadsden flags, including a home-made one in attendance:

And since it was at the White House, there were the perpetual orange-clad AbuGhraib/Gitmo protesters (who outnumbered anyone watching them).

And no picture of gatherings in front of the white house would be complete without a picture of the grizzled (and probably smelly, nobody gets very close to him) No Nukes protester, who has been there since the 70s.

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Range Report – Taurus PT1911

February 28, 2009 at 1:58 am (Guns)

I got my wife a new Taurus PT1911 as a belated Valentines day present, and we took it to the range the following day.

I’ve always liked the 1911 model .45s, and this is one of the best I’ve seen straight out of the box.  And that doesn’t include the gold-plated hammer, grip safety, ambidextrous safety, magazine release, trigger, and barrell bushing.  Not that the bling was the deciding factor.  We were also looking at a new Rock Island and a used Thompson in about the same price range.  Neither were stainless, so it was an easy choice.

This gun had, from the factory, a match grade trigger which is slightly lighter and just as crisp as the one on my gun – and I paid a master-armorer to do my trigger job.  The slide to frame mating was at least as good as mine, as was the ‘fluff and buff’.  The feed ramp and throat were smooth and mirror polished.

At the range, I was expecting a few malfunctions (failure to feed, failure to extract, etc) as is typically common with the 1911s until they are broken in.  This is usually more noticeable with lighter loads, so the first box fired was FMJ.  After that, we (read my wife) went through three boxes of relatively light SWCs.  There were a few stovepipes with this, but they occurred when my wife’s was not providing a sufficiently stable base for the recoil to do it’s job.  The only other malfunction was caused by one of the magazines that didn’t always lock the slide back on empty.  Some of the earlier models seem to have had some problems with the extractor tension being too tight, but that seems to have been resolved – or at least not a problem with this gun.

Other than the questionable magazine, the Taurus is an excellent gun.  With it, you get more than you pay for.

The only disappointing thing was that the CrimsonTrace laser grips that we bought for it don’t fit with the ambidextrous safety.  My wife’s just going to have to live with the simulated pearl ones that it came with.

P.S.

I’ve been asked about the selection process, etc. so here goes.

My wife fired a few other guns, and liked the heavy 1911 the best.  The aluminum framed ones were uncomfortable for her to deal with the recoil, so a polymer frame was definately out.  “Ol Slab Sides” also has a slightly narrower grip than the double-stack 9’s, and the recoil impulse of the 9 is sharper than that of the .45.

She picked out the gun herself, including filling out the forms.  Ownership is more than just paperwork, but the entire process focused on what she wanted.  There’s a significant emotional difference between ‘mine’ and ‘one of yours’.  This gun is hers.

Read that last sentence again.  It’s important.  An entire post might be in order about the difference ownership makes.

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Chocolate Holiday

February 14, 2009 at 11:00 pm (Family Life)

Many who know me, know that I like chocolate.  Really like chocolate, especially the dark stuff.

Many also know that I’m a ‘frugalskate’.  Those two things combine quite nicely four times a year, the day after Haloween, Christmas, Valentines day, and Easter.  That’s when chocolate goes on sale.  Usually %50 off the day after, and %75 or more by the end of the week – if they have any left.

After last haloween, we had 50+ pounds of chocolate.  And I’ve been conservative in doling it out, too.

Just so that you can also participate in these chocolate holidays (or more precisely the days after), here’s some information that you might find useful.

Candy, and especially chocolate, will go bad or stale after a while.  Details can be found at CandyFavorites and CandyDishBlog.

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Bad Moon Rising, part 2 – Disjointed thoughts on the Economy

January 31, 2009 at 12:10 am (Family Life, Politics, Uncategorized)

To me, the superbowl has really never been important.  This year, as we approach the precipice of a depression, I see irony in it.  The U.S. steel industry was once the model of efficiency and quality for the world.  Now, it takes serious thought to remember why Pittsburgh’s team is called the ‘steelers’, or where the logo on their helmets came from.

Nobody seemed to be concerned that a ‘service economy’ just can’t exist stably.  It translates to ‘consumer based’ economy.  If all we do is consume goods created elsewhere, eventually the ‘elsewhere’  has collected all of our capital.  That leaves us with broke, but with lots of stuff.  It’s a bit like the star-bellied sneeches from Dr. Seus.  Except that they didn’t have jobs, apparently.  Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

Knowing what lies just around the corner for our country, I can’t help but think of Rome.  They continued to enjoy their circuses and gladiatorial holidays while their empire crumbled out from underneath them.  Our beloved government is going to try to borrow their way out of debt, which will only give us double-digit inflation for years.

And for a comparison between this depression and it’s place in U.S. history, here’s a video from itulip.

Update:

From the International Herald Tribune:

He now estimates that $2.2 trillion in new government debt will be issued this year, assuming the stimulus plan is approved.

“You either crowd out other borrowers or you print money,” Ferguson added. “There is no way you can have $2.2 trillion in borrowing without influencing interest rates or inflation in the long term.”

“This is a crisis of excessive debt, which reached 355 percent of American gross domestic product,” he said. “It cannot be solved with more debt.”

“People are not stupid,” Zedillo said. “They see the huge deficit, the huge spending, and wonder what comes next.”

To that last I would add that he is referring to economists that are NOT in the U.S.  Nobody around here seems to have gotten that far … yet.

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There’s A Bad Moon On The Rise…

January 27, 2009 at 9:04 pm (Family Life, Guns, Religion)

I’ve had this feeling that things are going to get bad. I’m not sure how bad here, but elsewhere I would expect really bad.

And it has nothing to do with our new president. The economic problems that we are running full-steam into are beyond government’s ability to fix now. They’ve been coming for quite a while, and we have been pushing the problems off into the future.   Paying one credit card bill with another, so to speak.  Well, the future is here now.

The Federal reserve is basically printing money, as the interest rate it charges is now at or nearly zero. This will have the effect of ‘flooding’ the market with money, making inflation rise sharply.  To give you an idea, here is the Federal Reserve’s own chart.  That vertical line on the right is NOW.

Combine that with China no longer buying US Treasury debt, and that sets up quite a problem. An insufficient number of treasury bills will be sold, so to sell more, we will have to promise a higher interest rate, which means that the debt of the government will increase faster. And it’s not just in the U.S. either. The Bank of England recently lowered their interest rate to the lowest it has ever been.   The value of anything drops when supplies are drastically increased, and the U.S. dollar is no different.  So, while the governments flood the economy with money, some companies realize that the value of money in the future will be much lower than it is now. If we’re lucky, we won’t have to take a wheelbarrow full of money to go grocery shopping.

The economic mess is truly a global problem, causing the government of Iceland to fail, just weeks after the state bank failed.  They’re the first.  I doubt they will be the last.  Argentina’s solution to their financial problems was to steal all the retirement savings.  We’re at least a few years away from having all our IRAs and 401Ks ‘reinvested’ in the social security ponzi scheme.

Add to that a record pace for unemployment growth, and you get a really bad scene. Tons of excess inventory will idle production worldwide as people finally realize that their spending sprees of the last ten years are over.

Food prices will rise drastically, partially due to the lowered value of the dollar. If we have another bad year for food production, prices will rise drastically.  Last year also saw the spread of more virulent forms of wheat rust, which is expected to hit the entire middle East and Asia this year.  Fresh foods, especially those grown in California, will be scarce and expensive.  Food banks, which were strained last year will fail miserably. And I’m not the only one concerned about it. Hopefully rat-farming will remain an exclusively overseas thing.

Last year also saw dramatic shortages of fertilizer. Not so much in the U.S., but overseas. And since we’re in a global market, a shortage elsewhere increases prices here, but at least the materials are still available.  But only for those that can afford them.  People will have to choose between keeping the heat on and eating.  And it has already started.

There is a general sense of unease running through people.  Munchkinwrangler and Crankyprof are two good examples.

Now, I’m not predicting a Mad-Max type scenario, but I’m not entirely ruling it out, either.  I doubt it will be a drastic crash, I expect more like a steep downward spiral.

What I will guarantee is crime, and lots of it.  The last time the economy was this bad was in the 70’s.  I wasn’t old enough to realize just how bad the economy and crime were then, but what I do remember were the movies.  Movies like ‘Mad Max’, ‘Death Wish’, and ‘Dirty Harry’.  If art imitates life (or makes it a caricature) then things don’t bode well for our immediate future.  Again, I am not alone in this thinking.

And if you have the same feeling, now would be a good time to prepare.  Non perishable food & water for a week or so would be a good start.  And since you don’t really posess anything you are unable to keep, get a gun.  A shotgun for home is a good choice, but probably not the best one.  A better choice would be a handgun with training.  You shold find a comfortable holster and wear the handgun all the time.   Most robbers won’t call and warn you, and unauthorized people or children will find it difficult to misuse if it is attached to your body.  A concealed carry permit should be next, to allow you to protect yourself and your family while away from home.  The most important thing is to practice with it, and carry it everywhere you are allowed.  It should be as comfortable as a pair of broken-in shoes.

And to any believers out there who expect to be raptured (as I do), we are promised that we will avoid GOD’s wrath poured out on the world.  We are NOT guaranteed to escape tragedies and hardships caused by man.  How much will God allow us to go through?  Look no further than the unrest after Katrina, or the Janjaweed militias.

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Two Incidents, Different Results

January 18, 2009 at 1:03 am (Uncategorized)

Locally, there were two break-ins recently that have made the news.  The first was in a gated and guarded community.  Men forced entry through a rear door, and killed the couple who were there.   The second was a daylight robbery where men again forced entry through a rear door of a home where the woman had stayed home from work sick.

The difference?  The people in the first were relying on someone else to protect them.  The woman in the second took it upon herself to be ready to defend herself if the need arose.

When seconds count, police are only minutes away.

If you are unwilling to use appropriate force to defend yourself, why do you expect overworked and underpaid government employees to do it for you.

The after-effects of both are quite different, too.  The first set of criminals have learned that robbery and murder can be done and gotten away with – at least for a time.  So did everyone else that heard about it.   Everyone else also learned that the security in that neighborhood is probably not as good as it is advertised to be.

The second set of criminals, as well as anyone who watched the news or heard about the incident, learned that breaking into an occupied house can be quite dangerous.

Any guess what the crime rate in the two different areas is?

It is a citizen’s DUTY to resist all crime.  It shifts the balance of the cost/benefit equasion against it.  If every crime were effectively resisted by the victim, criminals would stick to stealing unattended stuff.  Some might even get a (gasp) JOB.

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Stupid Dog

January 3, 2009 at 2:00 am (Family Life)

Completely unintentionally, I have the ‘last word’ on the recent incident with the annoying little drop-kick dog that lives in our house.  My Wife, my Daughter, and even my Son have already had their say about it, so now it’s my turn.

The facts are quite simple.  The Pomeranian walked over to my wife and peed on her foot. I watched him do it, and didn’t realize what he was doing until it was too late.  I then asked my wife if she wanted the big gun (.45) or the little gun (.38).  Unfortunately, she chose the camera instead.  Apparently  illustrating the story was worth leaving the pee on her foot until pictures were taken.

So, why did he do it?

The simple answer is because he is stupid.  He’s so stupid that calling him stupid is an insult to stupid.  He’s stupid enough that him peeing on my wife’s foot is really no surprise to anyone that knows him.  He’s just stupid, stupid, stupid… well, you get the idea.

He’s stupid and useless.  He might make an acceptable alarm, if he would only bark at people or animals in or near our yard, but no.  He barks when someone comes to the door, but he also barks at us when we walk upstairs.  He even barks at people walking OUT the door.  Frequently (read multiple times an hour) he barks at… nothing.  Nobody walking on the street, no critters in the yard, just – nothing.

And he’s not house broken, and never will be.  Before you try to tell me that any dog is trainable, remember that this dog is STUPID.  To house break a dog, you typically scold him when he piddles in the house, and take him outside.  Most dogs figure it out fairly quickly.  Sometimes you even have to crate the dog, and only allow him in the house after he’s gone.  But not with Dudley, because he’s stupid.   The crate trick works, because dogs won’t soil a confined area like a crate.  Most dogs, but not Dudley.  Leave him in a crate for more than an hour, and you have to take the crate outside to hose it down.

Is he unique for a Pomeranian?  I don’t know.  I’ve never seen a completely housebroken Pomeranian.  But I think it has something to do with the ‘toy’ dogs.  Their heads just aren’t big enough to hold a brain, so they run entirely on their spinal cord.

In summary, the bigger the dog, the bigger the brain; the bigger the brain, the better the dog.  Oh, and Dudley is STUPID.

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So where do I fit in?

December 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm (Family Life, Politics, Science)

I’m an efficiency nut.  Not nutty, just really interested in getting the most ‘bang for the buck’ so to speak.  As such, we’ve replaced all the lightbulbs in the house with compact fluorescent ones.  My wife can tell you how much that saved on our electric bill, but it was significant.

The next major breakthrough for lights will be LEDs.  Currently they’re very expensive, but use roughly half the power of the compact fluorescent ones.  EarthLED does make a socket compatible series of lights, and once the prices come down, they will be a very viable choice.  They also don’t suffer the warm-up time or strobe-effect that some fluorescent bulbs do.

I’m always looking at new stuff relating to efficiency.  Most things I find are only simple and inexpensive if you are building a new house.   If our energy prices go up much more, I’ll probably consider retrofitting the house with a GFX heat exchanger.   It’s a really slick device that uses the hot wastewater from the shower drain to preheat the water going to the water heater, or cold water to the shower.  Many studies have shown a significant savings of energy with it.

Now, where do I fit in?

Most people who are interested in efficiency seem to be zealots about it.   I’m not.  I drive a truck, eat meat, refuse to pay more for organic food, and think that the poor children of Southeast Asia are better off making cheap clothes that I buy at Wally-World than they would be if everyone wore only hemp clothes made locally by hand.  It’s really hard to talk to off-the-grid types who think that you should use a composting toilet and grow plants with your own urine about anything.

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Just when you thought it was safe to sit back at the keyboard…

December 1, 2008 at 8:27 pm (Writing)

I heard about NaNoFiMo, the Novel Finishing Month challenge.  After just having completed NaNoWriMo, and having the novel incomplete (let’s not even talk about last year’s novel), it seems like a good idea.

Maybe I’ll be able to feel my fingers again in January.

Thanks to Natnie for the participant badge

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NaNoWriMo ends (sigh)

November 30, 2008 at 8:04 pm (Writing)

I finally finished my 50,000 words on Saturday night, a whole day early. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish this year, because I had fallen quite far behind. I did, however, exert an heroic effort, and won. (yay me.) This effort started Friday evening, when I wrote two thousand words before going to bed. It was so bad, that towards the end, I was writing with my eyes closed. On more than one occasion, I wrote the same sentence multiple times, and had to erase it. I did much better on Saturday. I wrote 9217 words, with several breaks. While writing, I averaged over a thousand words an hour. I’m happy to say that I can now feel the last three fingers of my left hand once again.

Two things significantly hampered my writing this year. The first, fallout from ENRON. Sarbaines-Oxley. We have been implementing new internal controls, and I have had a part of getting it running to the satisfaction of the auditors. Definitely non-trivial and time consuming. Hence, I have been completely unable to write at work at all. If I stayed at my desk during lunch to try, someone would find me.

The second cost an entire Saturday of writing. I had already fallen behind by a bit, and had been counting on catching up. It was not to be. A friend of a friend needed a broken car hauled to their house, and I voluntold to do it. After that, things started going wrong. The first contact I had for a car dolly fell through the morning I was to pick it up, costing a few hours of scrambling. The alternate contact was for a full trailer, but an hour off my preferred route. Two hours total for the side trip. The car was obnoxiously parked, requiring me to putz around with the trailer, trying to get it lined up. The winch wouldn’t work properly while hooked to an undercharged battery (go figure). Then, when I was ready to unload the car, it wouldn’t go into neutral. Half an hour on the phone, and I found that it had a manual override for the electronic interlock – the battery was dead, so the shifter wouldn’t release. A little prying on the console, and we engaged the override, dropping the car at the shop. Finally finished, I drove home, picked up my Wife, drove the truck back (full tank of gas, of course), and then returned home. Total time – fourteen hours. And that’s fourteen hours, after getting a two hour delayed start. Needless to say, I didn’t write much that day.

But it’s over, the frantic part, anyway. And I’m enjoying the story.

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